Sitting on the edge of our bed, I’m looking at our room. It’s a mess, as it always is. It’s been difficult without you. But it always is. I’m thinking about you; wanting more time. I’m wishing I could go back and visit those moments when life was open to us. If I could go back to see the two of us happy together, I would carry that image in my mind. I would cup in my hands the little drops of hope that rain from the memory and I would sip on them when the world was too dark.
I can hear our kids playing in their room. Drake is looking more like you every day. His freckled nose and dark brown eyes always remind me of you. Cassandra may look more like me, but she is your daughter. She’s got your fearlessness. Even at five years old, I can already see her unbreakable spirit, that wildness that bound me to you. And she can play me just like you; I might as well be her puppet; my strings being pulled in her little hands.
I’m ashamed of so many decisions of mine. But those two are the best mistakes I have ever made. You know how unprepared we were to have them. When I got pregnant with Drake we were living in your mom’s basement. I remember how scared I was. I didn’t want to tell you because I couldn’t bear if you were upset. You wrapped your arms around me, protecting me from my own insecurity. I looked up into your dark eyes and tapped my fingers nervously on your chest. The words fell out, “I’m pregnant.”
My heart quickened at the sight of your wild smile as you said, “Now I’ve trapped you forever.”
That was when you had just gotten your construction job. We moved out when I was gigantically pregnant. I’d thought I might be one of those women, who glowed with new life and swelled with the beauty of renewal. Oh, and I swelled: with water retention. You had to move us all by yourself. Even though I was bloated and grumpy and almost no help at all, every time you walked by me you gave me that smile. And we settled into our one bedroom apartment.
Looking back, I’ve been trying to figure out what happened. You were advancing at work. We were both so proud of our little family. Miss Cassandra had just been born. We moved into this two bedroom apartment. You were always one to party, but the parties were getting longer. You were going out in the middle of the week. Money was getting harder to come by, so I got a job at the grocery store. Thank God my mom was willing to watch the kids. Then you started missing work. I remember when I came home from the store and the TV was gone. And you told me you had to sell it and that you only had a half day of work. There were warning signs. But I ignored them. The thought of us not being the couple we used to be was too depressing. Instead, I grasped every stitch of what we once were and tried to tie us back together.
More of our possessions went missing. I had to hide money from you, so you wouldn’t poison your veins with it. But like all addicts, you found a way. Then there was the day I called your work wondering when you would be home and your boss told me you had been fired. That day started the sharpest fall of the decline of our lives. The night I got a phone call from the police, telling me they had you at the hospital. They told me that our car had been totaled and that you were driving under the influence. I’ve never been more consumed by rage and tragedy as I was at that moment.
Then came the rehabs. There were four before the one you’re in now. I would drop you off and you would promise me that this time would be different. And I would see all the good in you and the things I love about our children in your earnest face. I would see myself through your eyes, the woman you loved who would always support you. Then I would pick you up after a couple of weeks and your skin looked healthy again. Your eyes would meet mine with unadulterated clarity. I would bring you to our home and you would wrap those protecting arms around our babies and smile with your sober face. And the man I love would be home. Then the pattern would start again.
Forsaking logic, I’ve gathered hope that my love would be what you needed. But it’s not. I’ve let you be my heroin. I’ve pursued you with as much recklessness as you have chased your addiction. If not for our children, I would never leave you. Love is blind. But a mother is strong. I’m bringing the last box of your stuff to your mother’s. This time she will pick you up.
I cannot give our children two healthy parents, but I can give them one.