Here we sit, you and I, across from a table at the bookstore. I am struck at how quiet and peaceful we both are. I peek over my newspaper and see you engrossed in your new book, “Don’t Know Much About the Presidents” (funny, since clearly you do). “Hey Mom, John Tyler had a lot of children,” you say. “Did you know that? FIFTEEN children! The most of ANY president EVER! Isn’t that amazing?”
I agree that’s pretty phenomenal, not to mention excessive. “What’s excessive?” you ask and I tell you it means an awful lot, a real lot, like he had his own basketball team of kids. You like that and laugh.
Then later, in the car, “Mommy, will you and Dad ever be together again?” I take a breath because it’s time and you are smart and you deserve more than half-truths. No, I say, your dad and I will never be together again. Your eyes fill and you bite your lip. In a flash I see a glimpse of the young man you’ll become — sensitive and strong and so much your own person. I pull the car over and climb in the back seat with you. I tell you it’s okay to cry and you do, holding me tight. I do too because I was you, six not seven, and I know how much this hurts, will always hurt. If I could make this hurt go away, if I could I would, but I can’t I can’t and it’s not fair, so not fair.
You look up at me and say, “But I know there’s something I know. The love. There’s a lot of love. You love me and Daddy loves me.” And I rumple your hair and tell you Absolutely. No question. Yes, always. And then you’re done and you ask if we can get to the library already.
We need more books on presidents, you see.