I Found My Late Mother’s Diary and It Made Me Regret My Whole Life

For most of her life, Cara has harbored a deep resentment toward her mother. When her father, her favorite person in the world, passes away in an accident. Their fragile relationship cannot handle anything else. But then, everything changes when Cara’s mother drains her college fund.

For as long as I could remember, my mother’s insatiable greed and frugality cast a long, dark shadow over my childhood.

It made no sense. We weren’t a poor family — in fact, we were far from that. Both my parents earned more than enough to provide a comfortable life. My father, Henry, was a regional manager for a popular retail store. And my mother, Lydia, was a nurse. We were fine.

And yet, my school years were marred by spending Saturday mornings at thrift stores, looking for hand-me-down clothes. My social life and birthday parties were basically non-existent, because attending these events meant buying gifts, and that was something my mother found utterly incomprehensible.

Pocket money?

That was a foreign concept to my mother.

But then, a diary entry changed everything.

Growing up, my father was my favorite.

“Oh, Cara,” he said, every night when he came to switch my bedroom light off. “You’re my little light, you know that?”

Throughout my childhood, my father littered my bleak existence with joy. He would sneak in little treats, secrets trips to the movies when mom was working, and sometimes, he would simply buy me cotton candy — my favorite sweet treat.

On the other side of it all, was my mother. She barely interacted with me, always lost in her own daydreams. But when it came to buying groceries, or switching off the lights, she was alert and strict.

“Come on, Cara,” she would hiss under her breath. “Do you think we’re made of money? Switch off the light when you leave the room.”

Once, when I was in high school, I got a part-time job at the local pet grooming salon. I just wanted to make some money for myself.

“Good, Cara,” Dad said. “This is a good thing for you.”

Mom rolled her eyes.

But when my first paycheck came in — Mom helped herself to more than half of it.

“I need it, Cara,” she said. “I’m sorry but you don’t understand how to run a household.”

“I’m sorry, honey,” Mom said, coming into my room with her socks and slippers. “Dad didn’t make it.”

The shock hit me from all directions, but more than that — I was shocked that Mom looked more stressed about the funeral preparations rather than the loss of my father.

Mom and I slipped through life in silence after that.

I didn’t know how to navigate life with her. All I knew was that my father had put money away for me — my college fund. And I was so close to getting out.