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...over-educated and under-experienced, or so they say...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dinner With Hope

We sit down to a plate of steamed flounder, rice, and salad. We say a prayer and begin to eat.

Hope: Everything's gluten free?

Pandora: Yep.

Hope: We've been eating a lot of fish lately.

Pandora: It's good for you.

Hope: Good thing I like fish or you'd be in trouble.

Pandora: Hmm... I would be in trouble or you would be in trouble?

Hope: (smiles)

Pandora: How was school today?

Hope: Fine. Taylor cried a lot this morning when she got there.

Pandora: Did you ask her what was wrong?

Hope: Yes, but she wouldn't tell me. She just sat in the corner and cried for a while and there was nothing I could do to help her so I went out to the playground. She stopped crying by the time we went to class.

Pandora: And how was she the rest of the day?

Hope: She seemed okay. But she's been crying in the mornings a lot. I don't know what's wrong, but I know her mom has been sick a lot lately and I know that if you were sick a lot I would feel like crying too.

Pandora: Yes, I would cry a lot if my mama was sick too.

Hope: Yes, but you're an adult. It isn't the same. We still need our mama's and you take care of yourself now. But I need you to take care of me. And Taylor still has her dad around her and she's still crying alot. If you got sick like that, I would be scared because you are all I have. I don't have my dad here to help me, and even though I love my dad I don't want to be with him, I want to be with you. I think I would cry every day if you were sick. (her little mouth turns down)

Pandora: Well, don't get sad now, Honey. I'm not sick. I'm all good. I can't eat the fun things I used to, but I'm not sick. I'm actually very healthy right now.

Hope: (looks down at her plate) Do you ever wonder what life would be like if you had stayed with my dad?

Pandora: Not really, no.

Hope: No?

Pandora: Sweetheart, I know what life was like when I was with your dad, so no... I don't think about it.

Hope: (stares at Pandora as though she's waiting for more)

Pandora: (puts down her fork) Okay. If I were still with your dad we would have a bigger house. I probably wouldn't be working the way I do now. I wouldn't be up in the morning stressing out because I need to get you to daycare and get myself to work on time. I wouldn't be worried about bills and such because your dad was always good with money. I may not have graduated from college because he's military and we were always moving and I never had time to focus and finish, nor did he want to pay for it. The house would always be clean because I would be home cleaning all day. The laundry would always be done so you would never go digging through the basket for a pair of socks. There would always be a well prepared meal on the table when he came home at night, because that's what I did, and we'd probably be going to some Baptist church somewhere, just like he does now. We'd probably go camping alot, like he does with you now. We'd probably go on trips and vacations, like he takes you on now. We may have even been to Europe by now and I know we would've been to Japan because he lived there for a while. We'd go skiing every winter, like he does with you now. And who knows, you'd probably have a brother or a sister because I always thought we would've had more than one child.

Hope: (chews her food and stares at her plate) But you wouldn't be who you are right now, would you... You wouldn't be writing at night the way you do now, would you... You wouldn't be able to talk with me the way you do now because he would always be around and you wouldn't be free to do what makes you who you are. You wouldn't laugh with me and make the jokes that you do because you couldn't do that if he were here. You wouldn't be happy either because he would always argue with you the way he does with his wife now. (she takes another bite and swallows) We wouldn't have a quiet house like we do now because we would have a fighting house like he has in California. And I probably wouldn't be who I am either. (she looks up from her plate) And I wouldn't be free either. I might not even be as smart as I am right now because I wouldn't have you the way you are and you help me be who I am. I wouldn't know how to think the way I do now, because you taught me that. I might not be the soccer player I am because you let me choose the sports I want to play. I wouldn't even be allowed to play the games I play or listen to the music I listen to because you play with me and you listen to the music with me. Neither of us would be who we are right now if we still lived with dad because you've made a completely different life for us than what he would've made for us.

Pandora: (sits in silence for a moment, not sure what to say) I have done my best to make a calm and peaceful space for us. I have done my best to create an environment where we can both grow and develop our lives into something strong and positive. It isn't always easy and I make my own set of mistakes and bad choices at times. There is a lot that I can't give you because I am doing this alone, there's a lot that I wish I could do for you that I can't because of the circumstance, but I do my best to give all that I can where and when I can.

Hope: (smiles at Pandora) You have done good, Mama. Our house is small, but it's nice. You have put nice things in it and you have made it pretty and comfy. I like our little house. And I like that it's quiet here. I like that when we come home there is no fighting. I like that I can sit and talk with you. And I don't have as much as some of my friends, but they don't have a mom like you either. You always tell me how proud of me you are, but I'm proud of you too.

Pandora: (again, sits in silence for a moment, not sure what to say) You are a special little girl, Hope. I love you.

Hope: (smiles) I love you more.

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