Written by Barbara Straus Lodge
It’s a September morning, a regular school day. Today we rise at 6 am from the king bed we now share, leaving behind a disheveled heap of blankets, comforters, pillows, and stuffed animals. Moving as a unit, we drag our groggy pajama-d selves out of the master bedroom and downstairs into the kitchen. Standing between the stove and center island, we look at one another in silence.
Darkness begins to dissipate as muted blues and violets lighten the grassy yard outside the window. Morning coastal fog lifts.
Our-10-year-old son searches, I think, for some direction yet I have none to offer. His bright red pajamas, bold against the pastel morning, remind me of Christmas. Our daughter’s pale yellow duckie nightgown harkens back to spring and laughter and family Easter egg hunts in the backyard. We were so happy then. I think we were, thought we were.
But this is fall and the world is upside down and it turns out my husband was lying to me, lying to me, lying to me. For ten years, maybe more he was lying to me until the day I decided I must be crazy but dead bolted the front door, watched him drive off, and started rummaging. One find led to another as the toppling dominos crashed into hidden fifths of whiskey, piles of cash, white powder, deceit and denial. It’s been two weeks since that morning. Only two weeks since I learned the whole truth, sent him to rehab, and changed the locks.
Today, his secrets no longer live here. The air we breathe feels soft and smooth, like velvet. His lies no longer hover above, below and around us, clouds of dirty smoke from his cigar. He isn’t upstairs sleeping off a whiskey drunk, or snorting cocaine behind closed doors of his walk-in closet. He isn’t in the bathroom masking heinous acts and omissions with a chipper “Goodmorning! What can I do for you today?” And he’s not half dazed in bed protesting “It can’t be 3 pm already. I didn’t even hear you guys leave for school.” He didn’t even hear us.
I pull my babies towards me. Gary is sandwiched between me and Angela. I rest my chin on Angela’s head, her soft blondish-brown hair smells like sweet apples and 8th grade adolescence. Before, she was my innocent little girl. Now, she lays her cheek on her little brother’s matted hair and gives him a quiet kiss, trying her 13 year old best to sweep up the million million shards of mess that her father left in his wake. Gary’s head snuggles up against my chest his arms wrapping around my waist.
We three fit together. The curves of our bodies fill each other’s empty spaces. My world contracts into this moment, a miniscule pinpoint of love at the center of the Universe where we hold on.
I understand this.
The rest of my life is unrecognizable.