Perhaps I should have prepared the girls more. Certainly they had experienced our disagreements, and through the years, our increasing family digressions, though we’d attempted to spare them of our devolving spiral toward divorce. I’m fairly certain they’d picked up certain cues. Bean commented about the chilly silences during dinner, attempted to embellish her school stories to fill the space. Ellie commented about the nights I’d slept on the sofa’s pullout bed, not buying that my insomnia was keeping Mommy awake.
Then New Year’s Day came, the day I was actually moving out. Martha had arranged for them to be with her, at her mothers. But, as if they’d anticipated the worst, Bean woke up that morning with a 103 degree fever. High enough for major concern. Martha’s pattern was to under-react to our children’s dilemma’s (Oh, she’ll be fine!) and medicate herself instead. But now this complication added a layer- could I actually leave with one of my own flesh and blood so ill? What was I doing anyway? All that went into defining who I am, what I’m about, the legacy, if you will, of my life seemed to be draining from my grasp. Each trip to the car became more difficult, harder to breathe.
“Don’t go, Daddy,” Ellie said. She’d followed me into the garage. I picked her up, her small frame collapsing against my beating heart.
“I’m not going anywhere sweetheart,” I said. I smelled her innocence, her pajamas designed with Winnie the Pooh and his buddies created lots of color against my drab gray jacket.
She picked at my buttons. “Then why are you loading all of those boxes in your car?”
I didn’t know where to start. So, I lied. I suppose to protect her, but the truth was that I didn’t have the balls to tell her what really happened. I’d fallen out of love with her mother. Long ago, possibly even before she was conceived.