I almost

I see men who resemble you often. Like really close. Sometimes their wives resemble your wife. Sometimes the kids are even close.

Last weekend the impatient fruit seller was a dead ringer for H. H, who is also impatient with me.

I am afraid.

I almost call mom a few times. Just to say

I love you.

Ironically, even if I shouted it in German she would probably still understand.

Ich liebe dich!!!

What stops me is this terrible memory–a night in late summer, an infant and a toddler both held in my arms as I face an unknown accuser.

We now know it was mom. But then all I can think is–

what if they make me stay away from my babies?

I am jittery with an irrational fear. Because mom reported me when M kept running away.

M abused me, mom reported me as the abuser.

And she taught me that all the money in the world was not worth the risk. The labyrinth of her mind.

So I tell my kids about my fear. I tell them about my year in China and the million ways God took care of me.

Then I think of you. You standing on the bus, towering over the Chinese men, like you were their oversized parent or some strange incarnation of Snow White among the post-Maoist dwarves.

Overshadowing them.

Or how stingy and mean I was to you–making you climb the Great Wall with me but refusing you soda for water.

I should have got you the coke.

And while I can see us there together like an old woman watching a perfect movie about her own life…

The truth is I have lost you. Lost you so long ago I wonder if you were ever real.

When did you stop being real?