There we all were, at Easter Sunday mass, a broken family. I cried through the blessing of the congregation with holy water because I thought it would be less noticeable. There was water flying everywhere. If I shook my head would have been blessing everyone, too.
I didn’t cry because I missed The Genius. No. Or still loved him. Not. I look at his burgeoning mullet and the tone-on-tone pants and shirt in a shade of excrement circa 1977 and breath a sigh of relief. The only thing missing were his flip-flops. Certainly, it’s not all about appearances. I’m far from being that shallow. But that outfit helped.
I look a little closer at him and see a man lost. A man who hurts because of what he has done. A man who has not fully grasped all that he has given up. A man who never thought one step ahead to see the potential repercussions of his actions.
He is no longer a man in my eyes. He is a boy lost.
When I look even closer and try to tap into how I feel about him while I am standing right behind him, I am struck by the emptiness I sense in my core. Not sadness, not bitterness. There is no pulsing anger (I still get angry when he tries to get me to shoulder the responsibility for his affair. That will never happen.), and my skin no longer crawls when he is near me. He just IS. He doesn’t move me one way or the other. So why am I crying?
Because I’m not over my broken family.
I didn’t plan for a broken family.
My oldest son sees my tears and wraps his arms around me, resting his head on my center. I stroke his beautiful blond curls as he looks into my eyes with his own magical blue saucers. Without taking his eyes off mine he reaches out to The Genius, finds his wrist and pulls him to us. He tries to join our hands. I can’t do it. I cry harder. I don’t know how to do this.
I didn’t get the play book.
I pull my son up into my arms and whisper in his ear.
“I’m okay, Sugar. The music moves me, that’s all.” He places a hand on either side of my face and gives me an Eskimo kiss.
Actually, the music sucked. On another day I might have found it entertaining. In a choir of 20 you are going to have that one voice that pierces and then shreds the melody of all the others. But when I found her, via her wide open mouth, closed eyes, and head tilted to the sky, I smiled. She was letting it rip and it felt so very good to her. I wanted to let it rip, too.
When it came time for the sign of peace, the shaking of hands with those around you, I attempted to forge a more perfect union with the wall at my back. Apparently, I have not yet learned how to access my super powers. I didn’t disappear. Instead, I cornered myself. The Genius turned to me, with our son in his arms, and reached for my hand. All eyes were on me. Will she shake? Will she rattle? Will she morph into one massive tear that floods the alcove we occupied during the standing-room only service?
You could have ordered a half-caf, double whip, mocha whatever, with a shot of tequila and a shiatsu, drank it, asked for seconds, and loosened those neck knots in the time it took me to send a signal to my hand that it wasn’t going to vaporize if I touched his.
He didn’t shake my hand. He took it in his as if he was assisting me out of a car, or readying to bring it to his lips and kiss it. And then he gave it a squeeze. A long squeeze. A squeeze that was intended to send a message. Don’t worry, everything will be alright. I know you’re hurting, I’m so sorry. Even though we are broken, look at how beautiful our family is.
You look so hot in that dress, what the hell was I thinking?
My face was that of a cat realizing the grass she munched on a few hours prior was about to come out for a curtain call.
There isn’t a message he could send that would mean anything to me at all. It scares me to look for the feelings I have inside for The Genius. Not because they’re dark or dangerous. But because they don’t exist. How could I have loved someone so much to then have every ounce of that love vanish like I dropped it from the belly of a plane over the Bermuda Triangle? I don’t like him. That much I know. But beyond that, there’s nothing. No recognizable feelings at all.
It makes me wonder if my heart is still there.
It makes me wonder if I’ll ever feel safe enough to love again.