I Am My Mom’s Dead Soulmate (Essay)

Art by Sam Liacos.

Being a 20-year-old with no plan and a baby on the way wasn’t easy for her. She had many concerns in her head and for the following nine months, she didn’t think much of Vanessa. Half the family turned on her, and though later every single one of them came around, she couldn’t count on anyone. She had to think of what she was going to do with her life. She had to think of how to make things work. She had to be the responsible one. She had a lot on her plate, and she didn’t have time for the dead girl she loved.

If you don’t have health insurance, and you rely on public healthcare (SUS) to have a baby, you’re not allowed to have anyone in the room with you at any moment. This meant that for a dreadful twelve hours of labor, mom was completely alone. My father was there—waiting, pacing around, along with grandparents that seemed too panicked and too young to be grandparents—but that didn’t matter. In the green-tiled old surgery room, it was just her.

Well, not just her. I was there. I’d been there for nine months. She wasn’t alone.
I was born a big healthy baby, ready to never leave my mom’s side. I have no conscious memory of my first years, but what everyone tells me is that even as a baby I hated being away from her. I wanted to be at her side at all times; no comfort was as good as the one that came from her. I had grandparents that were then lovely, I had my father, I had support from everywhere, and yet I didn’t want any of it. I just wanted her.

I was, from the start, a mommy’s girl.

After I started speaking, I’d sometimes say weird things that would get my mom thinking, but the one thing that made her shiver and make up her mind was that, when we went to the bathroom together, I’d climb onto the basket of dirty laundry, turn on the faucet, and make a shell with my hands so I could hold the water. And then I’d stare at it, like it was telling me secrets.

Many years later, mom told me that Vanessa and her would always go to the bathroom together, and Vanessa would do the exact same thing. She’d make the damn shell with her hands and stare at the water, enamored.

When I was a little older and my parents broke up, mom and I moved back into my grandparents’ house. That meant we were neighbors again, the two families. I met her little sister, one that was my age and had never met Vanessa. I barely knew that her dead sister and my mother had been friends, but I knew I wanted to be friends with that girl. In no time, I was in their house, getting inside locked rooms with my friend, staring at old pictures of Vanessa with a weird taste in my mouth. All her family treated me well, but I still couldn’t look her father in the eye. Nobody had ever told me anything, but I felt this remorse from him; I instinctively knew I couldn’t trust him, like children sometimes know when an adult is lying. Only with him, it was vibrating pulsing distrust and disgust, even though he was always kind and offered me all kinds of sweets.

Even though the house is still beautiful, richer, and bigger than ours ever was, and my friend had far more toys, I still preferred it when she came over instead of the other way around. I hated that house and its secrets. It was like you could hear the quiet whispering of pain in every corridor.

My mom thinks I’m her.

In the spiritism doctrine, this is, of course, possible–the soul that inhabited Vanessa’s mortal body, after spending three earthly years in another place, where time passes differently anyway, studying her life and getting ready for her next incarnation, she’d choose to incarnate as mom’s first child.

In that way, Vanessa was my yesterday and Gabriela is my present.

You see, much like Vanessa, I want to be a good girl. Even through the most difficult things that’ve happened to me, I always try to seek forgiveness instead of revenge. I ground my mother in kindness, and she teaches me to be more assertive. She’s always been my best friend, ever since I can remember this life, and transitioning into adulthood didn’t make me feel like she was any less of my best friend than she was through childhood or my teenage years.

When she first told me all of this, I must’ve been around 18. I cried a lot, we hugged, and it rang true to me immediately. After a while, I started questioning it, like I do with everything. I didn’t know what I felt. I was never as good with having faith as my mom or my grandma.

I didn’t want to be a continuation of Vanessa. I wanted to be myself. Plus, a dead girl’s shoes are hard to fill.

I don’t know which is the case: if mom decided to change soulmates, or if I’ve followed her into this life again. But, I do know we’re soulmates. I do know that if I have any control over my life or lives, we’ll be orbiting around each other until the end of times.

I don’t know if Vanessa and I were the same soul in different bodies, but I do know that ultimately, it doesn’t matter. My mom’s soulmate was a girl named Vanessa once, but now it’s a girl named Gabriela. I’m her soulmate, and she’s mine.