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Category Archives: LETTERS TO YOU

I found Jennifer sitting on Hunter’s bed starring absently as he played on the floor. Children are so resilient, they have some sort of built in defense mechanism that keeps them safe when everything around them is so horribly wrong. I don’t know at what age people lose that. I don’t know when consciousness sets in and we are no longer safe from the world. I wished that I had never left that place. I wished I still had the child like innocence like my son which kept him safe.

She didn’t look at me as I entered the room. I didn’t know what to say, yet I groped for something, anything. Jennifer had been my wife for three years. In that time, there had not been an uncomfortable moment between us. We had trusted each other. We had been comfortable with each other. We had built a life together, and as soon as Emily walked out of our bathroom wearing my bathrobe, I’d forgotten about that life. I didn’t love Jennifer the way that I had, and always would, love Emily, but there was still something to be said for the time we had spent together and the stability that came with that. As you get older, passion becomes less important. Somewhere along the way, passion just slips away. Part of me wanted that passion back. Part of me wanted to feel alive again, and Emily did that for me. It just couldn’t be though, and I regretted what I had done, regardless of my motivation.

“How was your day?” I finally asked.

She still didn’t look at me. Her face was pale, tears slid from the corners of her eyes. I watched as they traced a line down her cheek, reached her chin then caressed the curve of her neck. I knelt in front of her and took her face in my hands.

“I can’t tell you how sorry I am.”

“Not in front of our son Tom. Not now. Not here.” She pulled her face from my hands and stood. She stopped in the doorway and turned to me. “She can’t stay here. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know why she is here, but she has to go.” Jennifer turned and walked away. I listened to her footfalls as she headed down the hall until I couldn’t hear her anymore. I took her spot on our sons bed and starred at him as she had been starring.

The human mind is flawed. There is some part of our brains that is sadistic and torturous. There is this thing inside of us that hides somewhere in the darkness of our mind. Life presents us with a situation, and that torturous beast inside our mind sit and waits. It’s watches what is going on. It knows going into the situation what is right and what is wrong. It sees the consequences of all out actions, and it knows our wants. Still it hides. It lets you think that the want is all that matters, and you cling to that as you fumble your way into idiocy. Then, once you have done it, once you can’t take it back, that is when the beast comes out of hiding. It stands tall and lets you know that what you have done was horribly wrong. It laughs at you and tells you that you should have known better. After the act is complete, once it cannot be undone, that is when this beast presents you with all the other possibilities, and shows you that want is not all there is. This is life, want is just a tiny part of that. There is must dos and should dos, but when you want something so badly, the beast hides and lets you think that want is the end all and be all of all things.

Emily was a want for me. Seeing her that day was blinding. In the aftermath of what we had done, I sat on my sons bed and all that I could think about was everything else. All I could think about was the other possibilities had I been thinking clearly. I couldn’t take it back. I couldn’t undo what Emily and I had shared on the couch in the living room of the house that was part of a life that had moved far ahead of Emily. I did what all children would do in this situation. I called my mommy.

“Tom, it’s good to hear from you. You haven’t called in so long. How is Hunter?” Mom always had this way of being cheery. I don’t know how she did it, but her whole life she managed this chipper exterior, especially with her children. No parent wants to lose a child, yet mom never let me see her cry. She stood at your funeral as a pillar for the rest of us, yet I knew she had to be burning on the inside.

You and she had always been so close. Mom had always wanted a little girl, and you played right into that always accepting the comfort her acceptance and love gave you. The two of you always shared this secret little girl world that had always excluded dad and I. You were Mom’s partner in crime. You were her heart. You were her co-conspirator in girl world. I remember how Dad would always sit at the kitchen table, his reading glasses perched on his nose, the morning’s newspaper in front of him. He would sit there silently, me across from him, no words passing between us. Dad and I never had much to say to each other. I would hear your feet on the staircase. Our childhood home had been so old and creaky. You and Mom would flutter into the kitchen, always giggling and bright, a welcomed disruption to the silence that had been hovering.

You and Mom had always been so bright together. Wherever the two of you went everything would light up as the tiny world that the two of your shared would expand to encompass all the space around you. It was beautiful. I’d spent most of my life envying that relationship. I never shared that kind of cheeriness with either of our parents. I was the eldest, and a son. My duty was to be strong, to be stoic, to be responsible. I loved being a spectator though.

Everything changed between the two of you when you went off to college. You left the house a young girl who’s mother was her best friend. When you came back, everything was different. We all knew you were keeping things from us. I can’t imagine how that must have been for you.

You told me once, before I knew the truth behind your aloofness, that everything was so much easier for me. At the time, I didn’t understand what you were saying. I didn’t understand what you meant. I’d spent my life admiring you, envying all the qualities that you possessed. I was jealous of the ease with which things came to you. You were smart. You were beautiful. You were exciting and beguiling. People always flocked to you. You were never alone. You never questioned yourself. From the time you were a little girl, you seemed to have everything together. You seemed more awake than most people would ever be. You had compassion and empathy. You had this remarkable understanding of justice, and this undying concern to live rightly and be proud of yourself regardless of the sacrifices you’d have to make. You would come home crying about the girl who was picking on you in the school yard, yet you never stooped to that level. You knew the importance of being able to live with yourself, so I didn’t understand when you said that I had it easy.

Mom was crushed when you started to drift away from all of us. She wanted to understand what had changed in you. I often wonder if things would have turned out different had you just told her the truth. You were just so certain that she would look at you differently the way you said I looked at you differently. What you did not know was that I didn’t think less of you. Your sexual orientation was of little consequence to me. The way I looked at you was entwined with the feelings of jealousy that had been a constant theme of my life growing up next to you. You should have just told Mom and Dad the truth. You wouldn’t have had to hide anymore. You wouldn’t have had top pretend, and you and Mom could have kept your little girl world intact.

 

* * *

 

“Hunter is fine mom.” I couldn’t keep the tears from coming.

“Tommy? What’s the matter?” She still sounded so cheerful. She never let herself be anything but cheerful with me.

“Emily called me today,” I began.

“Emily?” She stopped and thought for a moment. “Emily?” She repeated the name, her voice never losing it’s giddy edge. “Oh Emily!” She said brightly. “How is she? Your sister’s roommate right? Is she married yet? She always seemed like such a nice young lady, even after what happened between the two of you. It made me sad that she was always alone.”

I didn’t tell them the truth. I didn’t have the heart. After you died, I decided to keep your secret safe. “Well, I don’t really know the whole story,” I lied. “She isn’t doing very well though. She called me at work this afternoon and I guess she doesn’t really have a place to go, but Jennifer doesn’t want her here, and with Hunter and everything, we don’t really have the space.” Our parents were beautiful people. I don’t think the world has ever seen such calm, understanding, generous people.

“Oh no. Even after the two of you ended everything, she always felt like a daughter to me.”

“I know. She was a great girl. I kind of lost touch with her after the funeral. It was a surprise to hear from her today, but I guess she’s really not doing well. That’s what I was calling about. She has nowhere else to go,” I repeated trying to smooth over what I was about to ask. “I don’t really know what’s going on with her, but she’s always felt like family to me, so I can’t just leave her with nothing, and like I said, Jennifer and I just don’t have the space. So, I was wondering if maybe she could stay with you guys for a while?”

I knew Mom would say yes. She cared and mothered to a fault.

“I was hoping that Jennifer and I could bring her over tonight.”

“Of course. It would be lovely to have another woman in the house again. I’ll let your father know. I think he will be thrilled as well.”

With that, we exchanged pleasantries and ended our conversation. I returned the phone to is charger and leaned my forehead against the wall. Being grown up, you think you have experienced enough that you can handle adulthood. It’s a sham though. The position I had backed myself into was definitely heavier than anything I’d ever been through. The difference though, between immaturity and maturity, is that you know you have to continue on. There is no backing out or turning around, there is just a point in life when you begin to accept the fact that you have to face everything head on.

I stood up and headed into the living room. Jennifer sat next to Emily on the couch. She had given Emily a cup of tea and some of her clothing. They were whispering to each other, and I admired my wife’s strength.

“I talked to my mom,” I began, and both women looked up at me. “When you’re ready Emily, I’m going to take you over there. We just don’t have the space here.”

“Is that okay?” Jennifer asked your ex-girlfriend. Her voice was gentle, and she pushed Emily’s hair out of her face.

“Do they know?” Emily asked me. It was the voice that I had known, and it broke my heart to see her and to know what I had done.

“They don’t know,” I told her, and she began to cry.

Emily had been your dirty little secret. You never thought about the way your hiding things from our parents would affect her. You brought her to family dinners under the guise of being your roommate. She was always a dutiful girlfriend and played along, and all of your secret looks, and your secret touches went unnoticed. Mom and Dad had no idea who she was, or the magnitude of Emily’s presence in your life. It was always so easy for you to treat people like that, to pretend that you were clueless as to how that might make her feel. You didn’t deserve to abuse her like that. Mom and Dad would have understood. They would have been grateful for the opportunity to love something that you loved. They would have welcomed her back into the family in the capacity that she deserved. You couldn’t see any of that though. You never looked past yourself.

“Tom, why don’t you get Hunter. I’m going to make some dinner.” Jennifer turned to Emily. “It would be nice if you’d eat with us. Tom and I will take you over to Melissa and Jake’s house after we eat if that’s alright. Eating will help a little.”

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