Eight friggin months it takes me to start to walk. I haven’t entirely recovered. My arms and legs do some freestyling sometimes, but I can move on my own.
And guess what the first thing I do is?
“Oh, my God, Jane.”
I’m meeting Rebecca.
Rebecca has haunted my thoughts, and if I’m walking again. I can almost give her credit for my desire to scream at her was more potent than anything else.
“You look good,” she says, wiping the tears from her face.
This woman is someone new. Mom never gives this type of compliment, but people change.
My mom seems to have undergone an extreme makeover; she’s very talkative. It’s scary to think she had to go to prison for us to have a healthy conversation.
“I made all these children’s clothes for Toby. Do you think Abby will like them?”
Travis told me the shock was so intense for Abby when she found out about Rebecca’s indictment and the whole story that she almost lost the baby. Abby hasn’t come to see mom; the thought makes me cry. My family was already dysfunctional; now, we are officially suitable for scraps.
“Yeah, you can give the clothes to me. I’ll pass them on.”
I said I wanted to scream at her, but here seeing my mom’s thinned face and hollow eyes, all I can do is cry.
“Jane, honey, don’t cry,” mom says, stretching out her hands. These hands, which always kept a reasonable distance from me, refusing me my mother’s affection, are waiting for me to grab them.
I hold them.
“Why, mom? Why did you do this?”
“Because you are my child, and if you strayed away, it’s because this mother of yours preferred to be drinking Dom Perignon in some gala filled with tray pickers instead of being a mother. It’s my fault, Jane.”
“You didn’t drive the car, youㅡ.”
“No, Jane, you were a minor who stayed out late, took illegal substances under the nose of someone supposed to watch over you. It’s my fault. Also, I’m the one who disguised the accident.”
I never thought my mother’s sense of justice was this high.
For the first time since my birth, I’m proud of being Rebecca Hoffman’s daughter.
“Don’t worry about me, Jane, I’m fine. I feel good, you know. Do you know what I thought when I first got here? You might find it contradictory, but I can breathe. For the first time in 30 years, I feel free, Jane.”
It’s weird, but I understand her, all these years, she played a role in a series she hated being in, and the show ran for thirty years with re-runs of my father’s humiliating infidelities.
Here she is smiling, a smile I’ve never seen on her face.
“Why don’t you ask to be sent to America?”
“No, Jane, I’m good here, and it wouldn’t be fair for the victim’s family to see me return to my country. Even though I would be in prison there too, it still doesn’t seem right.”
“Mom, you didn’t doㅡ.”
“Sssh, Jane, listen to me for once.”
The tone is firm; it’s what I would have desired to hear back then when I was younger. I would have wished a voice to tell me to stop. Otherwise, they would be consequences.
I realize now that I lived without seizing the notion of consequence.
Butterfly or domino effect, I didn’t know anything about what my actions would bring.
“Jane, listen to me, I thought I was living, but I wasn’t. I made mistakes because it was more comfortable to hide behind masks. Please don’t make the same errors as I did. Face the issues you have head-on. Don’t shy away from reality; a fault admitted is always the key to forgiveness. I didn’t understand; I thought that pretending it didn’t occur was the best thing to do. But we should have admitted our wrongdoing and paid our respects to Tae Won’s family. We disrespected these people until the end. Even at the hospital after Tae Won saved you, we mistreated and disrespected him.”
My mom looks at me with the same bewildered stare that I’m sending her.
“Jane, didn’t someone tell you? That boy, Kim Tae Won, dived into the water to save you.”
Someone kill me.
The room swerves around me, but I don’t want to faint and flee this reality. I hold onto the table, which fills up with more and more blotches of tears.
“Yes, Jane. That boy jumped in the water when you fell backward, and he didn’t point the finger in your direction when I turned myself in.”
I can’t believe he jumped, knowing who I was and what I did to his existence. I look at my mother, hoping to see the twitches of a lie, but I see none.
What I read on my mother’s face is gratitude, and I believe this is what pushed her to turn herself in and confess to the police. Mom felt grateful and obliged to return something, anything to Tae Won to thank him for having saved me.
I swore I would never appear before Tae Won till my dying day, but now in front of this revelation, I want to run to him.
My dilutions stop as I remind myself what we represent to one another.
He is the victim, and I am a murderer.
“Jane, don’t beat yourself up; as I said, don’t flee reality, face it. If ever you meetㅡ.”
“I won’t see him everㅡ.”
“I said if your paths cross again, don’t run, face Kim Tae Won, and thank him for saving your life.”
“Mom, it will never happen.”
My mom smiles, “Jane, haven’t you ever wondered how in this gigantic city of all people you met Kim Tae Won? My lawyer had his deposition; you two kept encountering without knowing who you were.”
“And you think it’s positive?”
Rebecca takes a deep breath and gets up.
“Mom, where are you going? The visit isn’t over?”
“Come back another day, I got sweaters to knit, and I think you have better things to do than hang out with your convict mother.”
That last sentence somehow manages to wring a smile out of me.
“Take care, mom.”
“You too, Jane,” she says, waving to me without turning back.
A mother’s love, I don’t know how it is like, but it must be something like this.