Though I went through the trouble of configuring when the best date and time for visiting my parents was (Sundays, between 1 and 4) and how long I should wait before bringing Abbey with me (March 7, mom’s birthday), I only made it until February 21st.
I didn’t lose interest. They didn’t insult me or scare me off. In fact, I looked forward to spending time with them every week.
Abbey was terrified, but thrilled, to meet them. “How will I ever live up to the nonsense you’ve been spewing about me to them?” She would say.
What happened was something unexpected, but entirely my fault. I became too comfortable with them. I threw down my defenses, and let myself into their lives, and them into mine, as though nothing had ever happened – as though nothing awful could ever happen again.
My paranoia got the better of me, and so, naturally, I did what I was best at, and ran away.
It was months before Abbey said anything to me about it. I could tell that she was upset; for awhile she kept herself at a great distance, particularly in early March, when she knew that she should be meeting my parents.
I appreciated her consideration more than she could have known, but even she could not hide the disappointment in her eyes every Sunday.
Abbey and I went through our traditions like we would have any other year. We took thousands of photographs, did obscure activities to celebrate, and dreamt of our lives together. This time, however, it was different.
She didn’t hold my hand as tightly on the church steps on Easter. She didn’t smile as widely when her family commented on how darling a couple we made over Fourth of July. She opted out of Halloween gourd carving and drank wine in the living room alone instead.
We had an enormous amount of problems that year, but she never made a fuss. She never yelled, she never accused, she never argued. She pushed me away, while I reveled in the miracle that she was still there at all.
It was on Thanksgiving that she snapped. Not snapped in the way that I probably would have, screaming and throwing dishes against the wall. Instead, she made dinner. She spent all morning making a glorious looking meal while I watched the football game on the tv, something I’d grown to appreciate slightly more in the short time I spent visiting my parents. As the game ended and I went into the kitchen to begin setting the table, I was greeted by two people I didn’t expect to see, and no Abbey in sight.
“Mom, Dad,” I said, looking at each one of them as though I’d seen ghosts.
“Charlie, we didn’t mean to surprise you like this… Abbey told us to come over.” My mom started to reach her hand toward me, but began to hesitate, and quickly pulled back.
“Where is she?” I asked forcibly.
“She left before we came in. She didn’t want us to see her before we worked whatever’s going on out.”
I inhaled and exhaled slowly, timing my breaths to distract my mind from the turmoil that was very rapidly brewing. I couldn’t believe that she took it upon herself to do something like this, without even mentioning it to me, no less.
My mother took careful steps toward me, one arm slightly outstretched, the other wrapped around her tiny torso.
“Mom,” I began, closing my eyes. I never knew what to say.
“Charlie. We love you,” she said softly, her hand pressing gingerly into my cheek. “We want you to be a part of our lives. Just tell us how to fix this and we’ll do whatever it takes.”
I wrapped my hand around her wrist and lowered her arm. “Mom, I’m not even sure what it is. I’m not sure I could explain it to you if I tried. I panicked and I ran. Life is just infinitely easier if we go back to the way things were. I can send you Polaroids again if you want. I’ll even write letters. I just can’t do this, I’m --,” I paused, feeling my body begin to collapse underneath the turmoil that brewed inside of it.
“Too what, Charlie?” Dad asked, stepping closer to for the first time.
I straightened myself up and ran my hands through my hair. “I’m too afraid.”
My dad let out a heavy sigh and walked past me to the dining room table, sitting in the seat that was usually reserved for Abbey.
“Charlie, sit down,” he ordered, as calmly as he could.
“Dad, I really need to talk to Abbey,” I responded.
“No, son, you don’t. We all need to talk, and as sweet as she may be, Abbey is not a member of this family yet. This is between the three of us. So you sit your ass down and listen to what your mother has to say.”
A nervous feeling grew in the pit of my stomach, but not the same kind I had been feeling before. This time, I felt like a child. A child who was afraid of his father. I sat down across from him, though not without noticing the smallest smile from my mother.
“Charlie, we understand that you’re afraid,” my mom began. “We’re afraid too. When you first started visiting us, we were beyond terrified that you would stop wanting to see us. And it happened – you stopped coming over. You offered up no reason, one day you just stopped. The next week you weren’t there, and the next week. We took the hint, but we would have preferred some sort of explanation earlier than now – one from you, and not from your girlfriend. Being a family is filled with terrifying experiences, there is never a moment when you’re not scared. But you can’t avoid it, Charlie. You can’t run away from it. And even if you do, even if you successfully run away from us, the same thing will happen with Abbey. I’ll bet anything that it’s happening right now, already. You adore her more than anything, anyone can see that, but you know, perhaps more than anyone, that things can change in an instant. Isn’t that it? Aren’t you afraid that if you change your lives drastically by becoming part of our family again, something will happen between you and Abbey?”
I sat, very still, in stunned silence, staring at the wood grain pattern of the table. “Things are perfect the way they are.”
“No they’re not, son. You see that. I can tell you see it,” interjected dad. I opened my mouth to say something, but he stopped me. “Listen. It’s your choice whether you want to see us or not, but remember what your mother said. That fear is never going to go away. If it’s not with us, then it’ll be with Abbey. You were so happy when we were all together. Don’t you want that again? And just imagine what it would be like if you brought both of your families together. Me, your mother, Abbey, and you. You’ll always be afraid of what might happen, but don’t you want to be as happy as you possibly can in the meanwhile?”
I lowered my head in my hands, pressing my thumbs into my temples. The scratching of the chair legs against the linoleum sounded, once loudly and again quieter, indicating my parents were standing up. I didn’t move.
“Think about it, son. Let us know, either way. We want you to always be with us, but if you want to leave it at monthly pictures … we’d be alright with that too. Just don’t cut us out completely,” my mom said, as she leaned down and kissed my head.
The door opened and closed, an engine started, a car drove by, and the door opened again, Abbey’s shoes shuffled against the floor. I looked up and saw her coming from the living room, Tupperware containers filled with our perfectly planned Thanksgiving meals in her arms.
“Do you want to help me out?” She asked, setting them on the table in front of me. I shook my head and slid out of the chair, onto the floor. She kneeled down next to me, and wrapped her arms around my shoulders. She ran her fingers through my hair, and let me cry.
“They need you, Charlie,” she whispered into my ear. “They need you almost as much as you need them. But you do need them.”
I blinked the last of the tears away, and for a moment, ran my hand along her back, lost in the softness of her sweater. I inhaled strongly, and stood up, Abbey rising with me.
“You’re right,” I said. “Grab some food. Let’s go.”
I couldn’t bear spending Christmas away from my apartment, so the four of us decided that we would spend Christmas Eve at my parents’, leaving Christmas morning for Abbey and I to devour as we saw fit. One week after Thanksgiving, Abbey and I spent the day covering their house in lights, in the same way we’d been decorating my apartment for years. My dad wanted desperately to help, and my mom spent most of the time crying, as she usually did, but Abbey and I handled it all expertly.
They adored Abbey, just as much as I thought they would. My dad told me that, if anything good came out of what happened to me, it was Abbey being a part of my life.
I don’t get over there every week. Sometimes I miss several weeks in a row, for whatever reason. But it’s never because I don’t want to go, though, admittedly, it didn’t take too long for me to pick up on their more annoying quirks and habits that may have prompted me to not really want to see them every week.
I still have not remembered anything from my life before the accident, apart from the red scarf. But now, it’s not much of a big deal. My life was still, unfathomably grand. Everything is perfect. Everything is a miracle.
I've been turning ideas for this last part over in my head for weeks. And, even, I suppose, since I began the story. I like the way it ended. It's satisfactory to me. :]
Anyway, I figured I should post this, seeing as we're four hours into Christmas Eve! I'm not sure how relephant a Christmas story would be after Christmas ;]
Thank you everyone, for all of your love and support and patience. I know sometimes text RECords are difficult, but thank you so much for sticking with me til the very end.
I hope you all have a most AMAZING holiday.
Created: Dec 24, 2010phenomenaaa Document Media