I woke up early that Saturday morning afterwards. People always talk about those blissful moments after waking up before realization of something terrible dawns. It didn’t take me a few seconds to realize anything. I remembered upon waking. I was alone. He was gone and I was alone. Not that it was bad I guess but I was lost after 7 years of being at his beck and call. I had been a strong independent woman when I met him and now I was a hollowed out husk.
I dragged myself out of bed and looked around at everything in that massive 3 bedroom house and wondered how the hell I was going to get it all packed. I found some old jeans and a tshirt and put my hair up and went next door to get Harlow. I hugged her so hard and she just kept asking me what was wrong.
I thanked the neighbors and took her home and told her. We have to start packing. Now. Tucker is in jail and I’m not getting him out and we’re going to go and live with Uncle Wayne for a while. I was stunned when she threw her arms around me and said, “Good!”
I looked at her in amazement as she said, “What school will I have to go to?”
“Well that’s kind of the good part. You’ll have to go to Shay’s school. Uncle Wayne lives on the edge of the school district so you can ride the bus into Fredricks to go to school.”
Shay was Harlow’s best friend and had recently been taken to her dad’s after a horrible custody fight including a court battle where I’d been subpoenaed to testify against Shay’s mother. Harlow hadn’t been able to see her for months because we lived so far away.
Her 14 year old face lit up and she yelled, “WHERE’S MY PHONE?!?!” I laughed then. I laughed a lot. Guilt rushed in on me though as I thought about Tucker in a jail cell. I quashed it and told myself he deserved it and I wasn’t responsible for him or his feelings any longer.
“Well the bad news is that we have to start packing and get moved in three days.”
She didn’t care. She was ecstatic and the thought of going to the same school with her best friend made her giddy.
We drove to the store and got as many boxes as we could. Helena showed up with more and we began to furiously pack and sort and burn trash. I had to sort Tucker’s things out from mine. I had horses to get homed and sold and when I momentarily stopped to think about it, I felt overwhelmed. So I just didn’t stop. Phone calls to people saying this happened and that happened, not sugar coating any of it as I knew that Tucker would want me to do. I called and called…I have this horse and that horse, do you want this pony? All in between mad dashes through piles of shit packing and tossing things.
I called the crazy ass landlord and simply said, “I have to move. Tucker’s been arrested. I can’t afford this place on my own. Please add up what we owe and call me. I’ll be living with my brother in Horne and I’ll be able to make payments.”
I was expected to be met with yelling and screaming and protestations of his being fucked over and surprisingly he just said, “Okay.” I hung up the phone glad to have gotten that phone call over with.
After a few hours, Helena and I stopped packing long enough to sit across from one another in the kitchen at the island. We sat smoking cigarettes and talking of what was still left to do. Suddenly, Helena looked at me and then began to almost cry. Tears in her eyes as she told me how she and my brother were having problems. I felt a little overcome as she told me that he’d hacked her Facebook account and saw that she’d been chatting with an old friend that she’d been deployed with in Iraq. I asked if she had cheated on him and she said that she hadn’t but her friend constantly told her that he loved her and she hadn’t put a stop to it. She said that he’d told her he wanted her to move out before he got home from Iraq himself and she didn’t know what to do.
I sat there in my empty kitchen with my head about to explode. Okay, so I needed to be selfless and give her some sage advice in the middle of this current chaos. Fuck all, I could think of not one solid thing to say. I let her spew and then said, “Girl, I got nothing. If you love him, do whatever he needs you to do to make this better as long as you can live with yourself to do it. If not, then tell him you’ll be gone before he gets home.”
She sighed and said, “I guess I need to see if he can get over it or not and I guess I can’t do anything about it now.”
We called Harlow from the back of the house and began packing and loading trucks again. There we were, a 14 year old, a tired ass 41 year old and a teeny tiny little 30 something, packing trucks and moving furniture and driving back and forth the 60 mile trips one way. We did a fair job of clearing the house out the first day even so and by the time that day was over we’d made enough headway to sleep at Wayne and Helena’s the first night. They had a huge room in the back of the house with its own bathroom that had two full beds and a set of bunk beds and we still had room for dressers and clothes. Harlow and I showered and fell into our respective beds. The exhaustion was abject and almost tangible. I rolled over toward the wall and began to cry.
I couldn’t stop it. I pushed my face into the pillow to try and muffle the sobs. I was really really done and it hurt. My entire being felt utterly smashed. Ripped apart and fuh-rap-aaayed. A million thoughts raced through my mind. You’re free. Truly free. There’s no one now. Just you. You have to do this without anyone telling you what to do or what to think. Hollow affection is still affection. You’ll have none. You need none. You need some. You’ll be okay without it. No you won’t. Fuck him, fuck every person seeking to pull things from you that you can’t afford to give. Why are you crying? What have you lost? A man who sucked the life from you? Your whole being? No. You can do it. You can do it all. Alone. Aimless. Wandering. Lost. Weren’t you always alone anyway?
The bed sagged behind me and Harlow curled up to my back. She began to rub my arm and hugged me to her. “It’ll be fine, Mommy. It’s okay.”
I stopped crying a bit and hiccupped, “I know, baby. It’s just hard and he’s gone and I’m not sure how I can do any of this alone.”
She hugged me tighter, “You’re not alone, Mommy. You have me and Uncle Wayne and Aunt Helena and Grandma and Grandpa and Granny and Freddy and if you ever go back to him….” she paused and I felt like something huge was there waiting for her to spit it out.
She sucked in her breath “...I’ll run away.”
My sweet candy girl said what I knew she meant I rolled over and hugged her back and said, “It’s okay. I’m just getting it all out. I’ll be okay and he won’t come back. I promise.” I knew she was more important than him. I knew that I was more important than him…we were.
Teeming thoughts crushed my consciousness but under all of it I caught the thread of sanity and hope and clung to it. It felt rock solid under all the other bullshit for the first time in a very long time. I knew that I could do it.