Nathan Tompkins

To Billie Stanton: Happy Mother’s Day

(Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash)

This short essay is not for the faint of heart on this Mother’s Day, but it does illustrate how moms are there for us in every way, including moments involving trauma.


To Billie Stanton,

As with most relationships, ours hasn’t always been easy, especially when dealing with the conditions of each other’s mental health. But, when it counted, you were there.

For instance, recently, I was struggling with depression and suicidal ideation, threatening to shut down and disappear. I was searching for reasons to not call it a day, and the ten milligrams of Lexapro weren’t nearly enough.

You’d check up on me each day, if I hadn’t talked to you first, and you would tell me how much I mean to everyone, and list those who would be devastated if I checked out, such as my nieces and nephews.

But that’s only one example of how you have been there for me. Here’s another.

One day, many years ago, I was running errands for you, going to the store and a few other stops. I was driving down a busy residential road, and I saw this young dog that was out playing with the kids he belonged to, and then he darted across the street right in front of my car.

Sometimes, I can still feel and hear the impact and thud as the front tire ran over him. I immediately pulled over, and one of the family members was already dragging him away from the middle of the road.

I stood there, watching, anxiously smoking a cigarette, feeling helpless and in shock, as the poor dog lay there, vomiting blood and spilling organs. I tried to act composed, to hold myself together, while he gasped, shuddered, and then the breaths came slower and slower, blood spreading across the pavement. It felt like an eternity watching him die like that, but it only spanned minutes … as if that matters.

I drove home, you were still in the bath. I called out to you, my words splintering before they left my mouth. You jumped out of the tub, wrapped yourself in a towel, and held me, a twenty-three-year-old man, my body rattling in your arms, tears began streaming from my eyes.

It may seem like a small thing to you, Mom, but it’s an act of your love that I will always remember.

Thank you.

Nathan Tompkins


Nathan Tompkins

Nathan Tompkins is a writer living in a small town just north of Portland, Oregon, though his heart will always be walking along the Kootenai River in his native North Idaho. His work has appeared in many publications including NonBinary Review. He is the author of four chapbooks, but his beautiful Australian daughter is his finest accomplishment.

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