the return

We returned from an epic 10-day road trip out to Los Angeles. The road had been good to us. Our guest house was a cache of LA history, and our desert adventures were even better than our beachside time. While it was brilliant, we had to return. I️ came home to laundry that needed to be done, groceries that had to be bought, a dog that needed to be pickup from the kennel, bills asking to be paid, preparations for the next day’s re-entry to school and work. Plus, we only had 18 days to prep & pack and do all the associated shit we needed to do to move out of our home of three years and into an apartment. I had bought the home with the idea that, “real estate is the best investment ever,” and while I still believed that, the responsibility of owning a home as a single mom was just too overwhelming. Apartment life was simple and compact and useful people were paid to be available when things go wrong. Apartment life would help me keep my sanity, which was then even more important because we had also returned home to a crime scene. Upon dropping our suitcases in the entry, I found a dried puddle of blood next to the television, a blood splattered trailed down the hallway, and random feathers scattered around the living room and between couch cushions. Ghost, our cat who disappeared about three months ago, was back. All of this stood before me and I felt completely overwhelmed, but took care of what had to be taken care of and held it together until we were almost finished grocery shopping.

When I slammed my hand in the back door the back home blues kicked in hard. I️ began bawling in the grocery store parking lot. My daughter ran to my side and hugged me. I told her I’d be ok, but I just couldn’t stop crying. I got into the car and through my tears and snot, I said, “Sometimes everything just gets overwhelming. It’s so hard to do it alone – to live such a full life with no one to help you through it.” She put her hand on my shoulder and with complete sweetness offered, “But mama, you have me,” which made me cry all over again.

She reminded me so much of myself at 9. Such an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. It killed me. I️ loved it, but I️ also hated it. I️ wanted her to be a kid and usually she was totally carefree and led a wild childhood, but then I️’d find us in a parking lot: me sobbing like a baby and her being a little adult. Then, as if the day hadn’t seen enough, there was more blood. My nose erupted and I️ held tissue against it as I️ told her there are some things a child shouldn’t have to help with – like crime scene cleanups and paying bills or simply being nearby to curl up against when it’s all over so you can have a good cry. All I could think was, children shouldn’t have to see so many tears.

That night, I️ fell asleep putting her to bed. I was too tired to cry anymore or make lunch for her, but nonetheless I dragged my ass out of bed and made her lunch. Then, as I watched the clock tick past 2am, I poured a glass of wine and a hot bubble bath, because the truth was I did have a terrible day, but it was for a beautiful result. I had the life I choose every morning and a daughter who was learning that tears are ok. More importantly, she was learning the importance of knowing your worth and handling your life even when everything feels too big.

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