The Pane of Glass

by Michelle Gilmour

I was always so level-headed. I could think about a situation from all points of view. Write lists of pros and cons. But now I’ve just lost it. I’m completely lost. I’ve become a dark horrifying shadow of myself. I try to stay calm, but I can’t. I shout. I swear. I punch the hard jagged wall. The deep cuts on my knuckles, from previous tantrums, tear back open. A bruise displayed across my forehead begs to be bashed again.


Broken china surrounds my feet. I surrender to the floor. I don’t care if I get cut. Perhaps I want to feel the sharp edge of the broken plate pierce my despairing skin. I want to feel pain in order to take the pain in my mind away. How ironic. A pain that is impossible to bear and impossible to eradicate. It follows me around like an unwanted toothache. A second of relief, brings a tsunami of darkness.


I failed her, as a daughter, but most importantly as a friend. I caged her up when the selfish cow inside of me gave up. Passing her over like a used toy. The toy that had been there to hold my hand throughout childhood, soothe me from the monster that lived under my bed. Not once had she given up on me. Soiled nappies, wetting of beds, nonstop spoon-feeding and tantrums. But most importantly, she guided me when the world was against me, when all I could feel was fear. She kept me by her side. She kept me safe.

Photo: Michelle Gilmour

She is now that innocent little child I once was, and I have let her down. I gave up. The burden of doing for her, all that she had done for me, turned into a rigorous timetable. I pencilled her in like an unwanted smear. Eventually passing her over to strangers.


An unfamiliar room with no memories. An all-day chair with no comfort.


And now she waits. She waits by the window but with no light in her eyes. A face so gaunt, her eye sockets haunt me. Not even a whisper can escape her silent lips. Hands that used to carry me find no strength.  


Regret tears at my insides, ravishing my heart like a wild lion. I stare at her. A simple pane of glass the ruler of both our sanity and mental wellbeing. I let my mind imagine her smell, but the wind and sweet smell of the grass cruelly remind me I can’t.


Our time is up. The handles of her wheelchair grasped. No! I’m not ready to say goodbye. I’m never ready. ‘Just five more minutes!’ I beg at the window. I’m banging on the glass. They reject my pleas, clicking lose the wheelchair brakes, increasing the distance between us. Judgemental stares. Curtains drawn to block me out. I’m screaming. I’m out of control. There’s only one person who can calm me down, make me feel safe, but she’s been torn from me.


I’m jealous. I’m jealous that they spend time with her. It’s my time. They are stealing my time. Will I even get to see her again? Who will hold her hand and tell her it’s okay? A stranger? But they don’t know the stories of her past, her family, her life. They don’t know her.


But it’s my fault. I decided her cruel fate a year and a half ago and then the pandemic struck. The guilt of that choice like a constant kick in the gut. I no longer sleep. I don’t deserve to sleep. My friends have slowly vanished. I don’t blame them. The cold floor of the kitchen is now my only companion. I spend many nights here. Tonight, I may make it my last.

I’m broken. And I don’t mean physically, even though my body is run down and is failing me. I’m broken because I stare at my daughter and I know she is weak. I know that she is struggling with her decision to put me in here, but she had to because I was difficult to look after. I don’t blame her. I want her to know this, but I can’t get to her.


I feel angry. Angry at myself. She needs me more now than ever. Embraces that find her mind peace and clarity are all that her deteriorating body and soul require. A simple whisper in her ear will stop the despair running amok through her body. Just a touch of my hand will bring her comfort. I know this. I know my daughter. But I can’t get to her. A pane of glass the decider of her fate.


To watch my child in such agony destroys my soul by the minute. I see her as the one-day-old that I cradled in my arms, the five-year-old I held hands with on her first day of school, the twelve-year-old crying over a deceitful friend. The child that needed guidance and love. One hug from her mother is all that she needs, but I cannot get to her.


I’ve failed her as a parent, but most importantly as a friend. I never gave her siblings, nor a father, and now she is alone and begs to be saved. She has no support. No one to talk to about her fears. I beg and pray that she will find peace within herself and not give up. I hope that today was not our last visit, but I feel extremely weak, I fear that tonight is my last.

Author Bio:

A girl with a passion for writing.

Seeking to find writer friends.
Twitter: @MichelleGilmou8