Sunday, April 15, 2018

Keep It Movin'

"As far as him - maybe I care, maybe I don't. Maybe it was forever, maybe it was fun while it lasted." - a message sent from the other woman

I pray her little bit of "fun" was worth it, because it came at the expense of both my own heart and my daughter's. I hope they sat together and laughed about what they did to two, yes you guessed it, innocent people. That's not true love. That's not love at first sight. That's not a fairy-tale. Relationships, blessed marriages, a solid foundation, and trust do not begin the way their story together did. 

But her words, "maybe it was fun while it lasted," are nauseating because it lasted through a fellow woman's grief over her beloved big brother, over her incredible father, and heartbreak over her man.

It's important to note that those incidents did not happen over a long period of time either. Instead, it was all at once. All of the major, important men in my life were ripped from me and my daughter at same time. I apologize to her that I could not just "keep it moving" as she so humbly suggested I do. I apologize for bursting her "fun" bubble. No, I did not "win" the man because that is not a prize to be won. I do have my dignity and a hoard of people that have my back to remind me that I am not the waste that they both treated me like.

I was at the cemetery talking to my dad, asking him to go tap my boyfriend on the head and enlighten him a little while they were having fun. I was at the cemetery asking my dad for advice. I was at the cemetery asking my dad to fix one last thing for me before he was gone forever:

"Daddy, if there's one more thing you can fix, don't even do it for me, do it for Claire. She loves him just as much as I do." 

His mom was right all along, he was getting bad advice from someone who didn't have his best intentions.

...


January 27th, 2018

The day was nearing on perfection. We got to watch her eyes bulge out of her head on Test Track, I watched the two of them share a giant, chocolate sprinkle donut for breakfast, and we explored every one of the countries around the World Showcase. I realized that we worked together nicely, the three of us were like a well-oiled machine. It felt like home. 

Since we had extra time to spare, we figured we'd hop in line to ride Frozen over at the Norway pavilion. The time was checking out at 40 minutes which was incredible for a line that's usually at 120+ minutes. 

We read the stories on the walls and teased each other. Eventually, Claire wanted me to hold her. She was tired of standing, and was trying to nudge her way into mine and his conversation. 

"Who you love Mommy," she asked me.

I giggled, "You baby."

"I love you," she pointed at me and then took her finger in his direction, " and you." 

I gave her a tight squeeze and then she looked at him and asked, "Who you love?"

His smile grew wide and he used his two fingers to point at his two girls, "Both of you's." 

It was one of the many indirect ways that he told me he loved me before his official, "I love you," on February 5th. 
...


March 19th, 2018

I was anxious, and the only thing I could think to do was to call Jennifer and ask her if she knew where he was. There was a slight possibility that he had been in touch with Ian, or even hanging out at their house and if he was, I'd at least know he was safe.

"Hello," she answered.

My voice was shaky as I asked her if they had heard from him. 

She knew something was wrong, "No, we haven't. What's up?"

"Can you come over to my mom's," I asked. 

There was no question or hesitation. They piled their boys in the car and were over within ten minutes. We all took a seat in the living room as I retold the events from the last two days. 

Ian was sitting on Claire's big, pink puffy chair on the floor and he looked perplexed. 

"So," I began, "do you think he's cheating?"

"No I don't," Ian quickly answered, "Because why would he?"

Then he went on to tell me that the last time he had heard from him was two mornings ago, which was the same day this all began. That morning he was texting Ian about his new job and even mentioned my name in his decision making. 

Jennifer said, "The first thing I said to Ian when he was done with that conversation was that he's getting ready to propose. He's getting all his ducks in a row." 

That put my mind at ease a little. Why would he cheat? We were incredibly happy and every day there was mention of our future together. 

I kept looking at Ian for hints though, he'd tell me if I really needed to worry.

"He just needs to come home. It's just cold feet," Ian explained.

I felt the pit in my stomach subside because I felt that way too. He was so confident all of the time. He never made me feel like his feelings had changed or he was straying. Instead, he was so good at making me feel secure, without questions. 

"Look Grace, ultimately your care for someone else changes your care for yourself. You see the best you and you want to be that. It's a selfish and selfless thing, but if you think giving that person the best you is what's best for them, that's what you do. And we all saw him do that for you, you change for the people you love," Ian reassured me. 

...


April 15th, 2018

10:40 AM

I called my mom to ask her if she'd rather have a slice of pumpkin bread or a blackberry chocolate chip muffin. Sunny and I were checking out a coffee shop in town, named Please and Thank You, so I figured she'd want something to try when I got back later that day. 

"Hey you know what I'm doing," Mom said.

"What," I asked.

I could hear Claire chatting in the background before she replied, "I'm looking at cruises, just something to do real quick. They're going out of Mobile again."

I don't know what about that sentence triggered me. I started wiping the tears from under my lashes so my mascara wouldn't run. I walked to the corner so I didn't make a scene after making eye contact with Sunny from across the way, she knew I needed a few more minutes.

"Mom, all my last memories of Dad have him in it too. My last conversation was about us moving together. Dad was happy about it," I cried.

Mom began to get upset now, "I know Grace, I don't even know what to say because I'm having a hard time too." 

That was a realization that almost made me crack. The moment I learned that my brother was found dead in his apartment, I was staring at his face. The day I found out that Dad's cancer had spread, he listened to me cry. The last moments I have with my father have him in them too, every one of them. And that's painful. I, again, am so sorry that I could not "keep it moving'" like I was advised to do. 

8:30 PM

I was texting with Jennifer again. My biggest wonder is if any of it was real, which I was explaining to her. Did we all miss the red flags? Did I do all of this "prepping" with him for someone else to reap the benefits of the man he had been becoming with us?

Jennifer:"That's impossible. She brought him in the way he was and accepted the behavior. That's like feeding your toddler candy every morning and then suddenly asking for vegetables. It isn't going to happen. If you had been her there would have been no "prepping" because you wouldn't have even allowed him near you."

And she's right. I wouldn't have ever been in her position. If he was so willing to up and leave, if he was willing to be sneaky and conniving, I wouldn't have wanted a man like that no matter how many sweet nothings he was whispering into my ear. I would feel awful about myself too, for knowingly causing pain to another when it was never necessary. 

Jennifer's text continued: "I say this constantly to Ian..... it's human nature to try and get away with as much as you can. We are programmed to do the bare minimum until someone expects otherwise from you. Ian says all the time that I have "high expectations" for everyone in my life and it's true... and clearly laid out. My kids know exactly what I expect from the, Ian knows exactly what I expect from him.. and not in a dictatorship way, just in a "I know this is what you're capable of," way. She IN NO WAY would ever set an expectation remotely close to what you subliminally expected from him. And the fact that he ran from you and went to her.. automatically shows that he wants someone that wants LESS OF HIM ... not his best self."

I felt every one of those words because they were so true. What's ironic is a few weeks ago I had sent him a text myself reminding him of how wonderful I thought he was, and how he was everything I had wanted, there was no need to build some picture up in his head of what he thought I needed. He did not need to be the man my dad was. He just needed to be the man he was with us all along. 

My text included the words, "You are more than enough for everything in your life," and my God I meant it. I wanted to remind him that I was there and I believed in him. If this was truly a case of fear and cold feet, he didn't need to be because I wasn't going anywhere, I'd be supportive and by his side for the entire journey. But I guess, that man we all saw wasn't someone that he could keep playing the role of.

11:01 PM - present time

It's darker throughout the entire house than I would like it to be. Claire is asleep and I'm still warm from the bath. The television isn't on. Instead, the only sound I hear is coming from the laundry closet, washing the clothes I wore on my weekend away, along with the tapping of the keys under my fingers. And those fingers have developed slight tremors. 

I'm like a broken faucet of feelings. They're constantly pouring out. And despite the support I've received over the last few years, it's really hard juggling grief and heartbreak at the same time. It's really fucking hard because ...

The thing is I loved him. It was a completely real love for me. And it deserved for me to fight and put the pieces together. He may not have deserved it, but the love did. All of the time that we had spent together, that time deserved the fight. She didn't deserve for me to go without a fight either. She wanted her trophy and to feel special, I think it's safe to say that he made me feel pretty damn special and in his limelight long enough to fool an entire town. But her, he had to keep quiet. He won't mention her name. 

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