I found this letter to mom when I was helping her pack her things to leave Dad’s house. I had no idea why this woman would write something like this – it didn’t make a lot of sense. Like she and Mom were friends passing a baton or something. It made me really nervous about when mom left. I guessed she didn’t really know where she was going. Looking back, I suppose that’s how it is for all of us. Do any of us ever know exactly where we’re going?
My first reaction was non-belief. I folded up the letter and stuck it back in its envelope. It was meaningless and held no power over me. Besides, I’d had a love spell done up, and I trusted that there absolutely would be a way for things to work out.
The thing about initial reactions is that they’re usually for self protection. I was no different. I wasn’t going to admit to myself that I might be wrong about the plan. There was no way some girl named Maggie could interfere with the connection between me and Harold.
So I ignored it. I tucked the letter away and continued with my plans. I focused on being a good mom and wife. If the Universe was going to set this up to test me, then so be it.
And then there were the days it crushed me. I spent those days in bed or in a hot bathtub. I lit candles and said prayers to my guardian angels, asking that they watch over me while I put one foot in front of the other. The sound of the clock ticking away in the background unnerved me and it usually ended up unplugged or in pieces in the trash bin.
But every morning on the following day, I felt that flower of hope pressing against my ribs. I would find a way to make it happen. Maybe not tomorrow, and maybe not even next month. I was convinced I was favored by the gods. I could do this.
The secret to getting through all of it was creation. Now, don’t go calling it a hokey mess, okay? I didn’t know exactly what I was doing or how it would work out, but something deep inside of me convinced me that it would turn up alright for me. I wasn’t the kind of person destined for misery her whole life. That was impossible.
Eventually I came to terms with the idea that my wife was a handful. She was both a hard worker and a passionate artist. She’d given our kids good genes, though, and she really put a lot of effort into being a good mom and wife for a lot of those last years we were together. And boy was she determined.
I think that’s where you got that part of your character, Seliah.
There wasn’t anything to complain about, really. ‘Course there wasn’t a whole lot of consistency from her, either. I never really knew which person I’d be coming home to: the wife who was totally together and putting forth huge amounts of effort, or the one who didn’t get out of bed that day. Most of the days were pretty good. Sometimes she’d make a killer meal and she loved hearing all of us ooh and ah over it. Some nights she’d show of an amazing pencil drawing or a painted canvas she had put together. It was spectacular – those times. Other times it seemed like everything I said or did was this close to pushing her over the edge into tears. I had no idea what was wrong with her, and I was pretty alright with that. I’d given up trying to figure that woman out years before. She was who she was, and we just made our terms together.
WAITRESS AT THE BREAKFAST DINER
Roy? Yeah, I knew him. He came in for breakfast a lot over the years. He was a very decent man and a nice tipper, by golly. He made sure I got a good tip, “To help take care of the boys,” especially around the holidays. What a sweet fella he was to me all those times!
He always asked about my kids as they were growin’ up. “Say, how’s that Bobby of yours,” he’d say, or, “Did Petey ever take up baseball like I recommended?” He’d tell me about his two kids, too. Boy, those kids must be all grown up by now.
Yeah, it was always Roy there in that booth over on the left wall, see? He had his spot and I made sure to save it for him. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He came in, lookin’ real nice in his jacket and tie. Handsome fella. I’m not sure why he didn’t ever bring the wife and kids in. Prob’ly he just liked a little quiet time before headin’ in to the office, I reckon.
Oooh, girl, but he did come in with a lady once. Not sure who it was, but I wasn’t thinkin’ she looked like she’d had any babies. Didn’t introduce myself to her. She was pretty, but her nose was pretty big. Long dark hair. Very polite. Didn’t talk a whole lot. When was that? I’d have to thinka ‘bout it.
Must’ve been 1961, I guess. Bobby’d just tried out for varsity baseball, and he did that his sophomore year. I remember because I was so excited to tell him and then there she was, and I didn’t want to interrupt anythin’. I’d say it must’ve been 1961. Yeah, ‘cause Bobby graduated in ’63 so there ya go. Why? You lookin’ in on Roy for some reason? He was just the nicest man! Here, ya want some more coffee?
As things, go life moves forward bit by bit. Every week that passed led me farther away from that letter and instead of feeling unsure about what the future held, I started thinking maybe things would turn out as a special surprise for me. I didn’t really have to know what the future held. Life has a way of turning all your expectations right upside down, and that was no different for me.
Of course, there were ways you could make things work out in your favor. I hadn’t spent all those last handful of years learning the craft for no reason. In fact, I kept finding every opportunity to get clear on exactly what made me happy, what made me tick, and trying to open up my mind to whatever I could take for the pickings.