I read every word of every letter of love before I burned them into a pile of carbon flakes ten miles high. There is no doubt in my mind that the old love burned up in those ashes was once deep, reciprocated and genuine. Up in smoke, drowned in tears, six feet under. I will save the photos for the children, but those letters of love were for us, from one to the other, before the time when babies were even to be conceived in the mind. There was love once. Miraculously, now there is none.
* * * * *
On Saturday I attended the Halloween party for Foo's kindergarten class. I watched as the children arrived flanked by two parents, some of the same gender, hand in hand in hand in hand. And then I watched as my broken family crossed the street to meet me. Words only exchanged from parent to child, never parent to parent.
I wandered into the hostess' home, which was straight out of any Pottery Barn catalog I could have written when I was a happily married woman. As I took in the comfortable spaces, the family units ebbing and flowing, and my deloved pretending not to know me from across the room, I realized that I am the black sheep among the matriarchs of these other families. I kept to myself, recognizing that somehow I have managed to be different even from them, the other mothers. As I inventoried the higher class, I wondered how these magnificent women managed to keep their families together while I watch mine metamorphose into something I never wanted.
It's the first time I've asked myself why couldn't I keep my family from falling apart?
Or keep my marriage alive? Or keep my children from divorce? Or keep my cafe open? Or keep my cookies baking? Or keep Granny from dying? Surely everything except the last fell with in my scope of savior. Did I let go too soon? Did I try hard enough? Did I try too hard? Am I inept? Do I not deserve this? Do I deserve all of this?
Kids and chaos swirling, I pretended to need to follow Bub around, when actually he didn't need me at all. He bounced from play zone to play zone, hardly noticing that I was in the room. A couple of times I spied Foo between milling parents, upstairs being the most popular kid in class, receiving hugs from any child who hadn't yet said hello. She's exactly the kind of girl any mother would order off a menu.
I felt trapped. Trapped in a house full of women who were better than me because they hadn't lost their husbands or compromised their young childrens happiness. Trapped around