I’m not on the roof.
I’m not ready to pack bags and walk out the door.
I’m making clam chowder- extra bacon, almost no potatoes- the way the boys like it. Not the way Jeanine likes it but she’s not going to be home. (Not going there today) I brewed a pot of coffee.
I know. Coffee in the afternoon is a big no no. When I post at 3AM, you’ll all understand. It smells so good, though. With the sky gray, promising snow, I couldn’t resist. Soup, hot coffee, warm bread. Does life get any better?
I have a lot to carry right now. I am. It’s not easy. My body aches a lot- I realize this is the physical manifestation of the work I am doing in therapy around the abuse. I have added Glucosamine to my drug of choice list, right after Advil.
Allan told me I need a weekly pillbox.
I am not that old, I said.
And a pill cutter.
I can bite the pill in half.
Pill cutter and pillbox. Christmas is coming!
Why don’t you get me some support hose while you’re at it?
He was not deterred in his excitement.
I guess I know what I’m getting for Christmas.
Ben was on cloud nine yesterday. He has been picked as a ‘student leader.’ This means he helps with the kindergarteners and first graders in their gym class. He was seriously proud.
Are you gonna help me? Jake asked. He is a first grader.
Ben shoved his brother aside. I don’t think so.
Ben is sweet with small children. That is, any small child but his little brother.
BEN YOU HAVE TO… Jake isn’t one to back down.
I don’t have your class. I’m sure. Anyway, I am a student leader…
I suggested Ben take his homework to his room, seeing that he is so much older now. Jake stood an inch outside his open door, carefully eyeing the threshold, keeping a hair’s width outside.
GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT OF MY ROOM!
I’m not in your room.
I made it to the bottom of the stairs in time to see the door slam on Jake’s nose.
MOM, BEN HIT ME!
No, honey, he didn’t. He slammed his door, which he shouldn’t…
You always listen to him! He howled, holding onto his barely touched nose.
No, Jake, I saw you…
Jake, why don’t you take your homework to your room, too?
The howling stopped immediately.
He ran downstairs to get his pencil and math worksheet. I ignored the reality there will be pencil drawings on the wall in his room. That’s why there is a gallon of Kilz in the basement, I reminded myself.
I opened Ben’s door. He turned, ready to shout but his face softened when he saw it was his mother, not his little brother.
When you want privacy? It’s probably good to close your door, okay? And not on Jake’s face.
Through the daily banter, the memories are always present. I sat yesterday afternoon and held a picture of my father. I know it’s from the camping trip. He looks out from the photo with a crooked, uneven moustache, haunted eyes and mouth half open. I am a little girl dressed in her brother’s hand me down sneakers and Baltimore Oriole baseball cap. My hair is stringy and unkempt. There is a forced smile on my face. I look scared. Uncomfortable in my body, my shoulders are pressed back.
Good posture was very important to my mother.
All of this swirls around me, every day, all day. It is not a simple weave but an enormous tapestry with different scenes stretched out- some finished, some waiting for more detail, some yet to be lived. I am happy in the moment of hearing Ben’s announcement. Slightly annoyed with the fight between the boys but pleased with my quick redirection of Jake.
And. And I know I have to go back into the tent with my father. I have to remember to let go. It is not one or the other. There are many things that must occur together. I am a mom. A wife. A sister. A friend. A little girl.
My life is full. There is much to be joyful about every day. I am not sad. I do not feel sorry for myself. I know what I have to do. The little girl in the picture has been running for a very long time.
I’ll go bring in wood for tonight. The boys and I will read after dinner in front of a warm fire. I have to remember to press the fire screen tight against the wall lest the cat crawls into the fireplace again.
She’s hell bent on catching a flame.
It’s bearable. I can sit. I can see it. I know what happened- maybe not all of it yet but I know. I can feel it. It’s okay. It’s not happening now. I have to catch a very quick little girl in a size too big baseball cap. Make her hear me. Get her to stop. Because I know I can now.
And there is laundry the boys have to put away. Walter called earlier, reminding me to look for the Celtics tickets. The soup needs to be turned down to a slow simmer. It’s time to go pick up the boys. Drop the mortgage payment in the mailbox on the way.
I’m not on the roof.
I’m not walking out the door.
Soup, coffee and warm bread. In this moment? Life doesn’t get any better.