He told them we were getting a divorce, without me around to pick up the pieces. It wasn’t that I wasn’t prepared to take action, it’s that I wasn’t there to protect them from the pain that comes from being betrayed by one parent, or another.
I wasn’t there the moment my 13 year old newly diagnosed Aspergian’s intricately structured world came crashing down on him. He called me to confirm the tragedy. My son was angry, frantic. His Dad told him I would not deny the news, although I know he wanted me to tell them that no, Dad had it wrong, that I’m not going to do this, that of course our thorny, aching little family would remain a seething unit that looks serene, even happy, from the outside. He was looking to hurt me, not them, or perhaps the pain inside him was just too much to hold in any longer. He handed the kids money like it was a sweepstakes they’d just won, wrote my son a check, tore up bills and let them flutter like snowflakes. Why? I don’t know, perhaps he thought he wouldn’t need it wherever he was going. I’m worried about him. I’m worried about them,the way my son looked lost, the way my daughter cocooned herself in my winter jacket and fell asleep, slept that night into the next morning, next day. But then, I’ve been worried about them all along, have come to see the damage clearly, in the spaces between bites of dinner, the smog of frustration that hangs around their heads, the hurt they carry on their backs as hard turtle shells, as they move slowly into the day.
My daughter says it’s about time we split up, that all we do is fight, that it’s been years now, that the “Girls Only Condo” a fantasy space I’d created for her, for us, when times were toughest, the one we’d shop for in catalogs, and decorate in our minds, might be coming closer to her reality.
We’d bring her brother with us, of course, and the dishes and drapes would be real. “Pack lightly,” I’d say. “It’s a small space, no room for pain, or excess baggage.” I’d stand at the threshold and unlock the door, let it swing open and bid them come inside. The light would be everywhere, natural, streaming through the windows, the air vanilla and sage. It wouldn’t be much, but it would be home. Safe. home. 3 months ago