Teeth

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Chapter 22 - Happily Ever After

I arrived at the Dallas Ft. Worth International Airport at 5:00 pm November 3, 1992. My mom met me and gave me something she’d been making. It was a butterfly shaped frame, about one and a half by two inches. Embroidered in rainbow thread were the words:

If things never changed,

There’d be no butterflies.

I rubbed my finger lovingly across the thread and smiled at the sight of my mom holding Andrea for the first time. Andrea smiled at the attention and looked at her grandmother as though she was the best thing since breakfast and a fresh diaper.

“I didn’t bring as much home as I took,” I said to mama as we walked to the baggage claim. “I just brought whatever fit in Andrea’s diaper bag. I left everything else in for Chuck to sell, or throw away.”

“It’s all right. You don’t need anything,” Mama said as we passed the claim and walked out the sliding glass doors.

“Are you okay?” Mama asked as we begin the short drive to Arlington on 360.

“I will be,” I avoided the true answer.

“Well, I’ m glad you’re home.”

“I’m glad I’m home, and I know Andrea will be spoiled to death.”

“No question. Spoil ’em and send ’em home to mama. That’s the grandma creed.”

“And I know you will not fail to live up to the creed.”

“And be put on the grandparent hit list? I think not.”

A silence invaded the light conversation as we maneuvered through 5:30 traffic.

As she steered her dark blue Delta 88 to exit the highway, mom asked, “So when will Chuck be home?”

“He’ll come home for Christmas to see his parents and maybe Andrea.” I said.

“Not you?”

“Not me.”

“Are you getting divorced?”

“Probably.”

“Are you okay with that?”

“Well I’m not waving the flag of victory while standing on top of the ruins of my marriage, but I think it’ll be best for all of us.”

“What about Andrea?”

“If I can survive divorced parents, I know she can.”

Mama winced.

“I didn’t mean anything, Mama. I just meant that we’ll be okay.”

“I know.”

“Really, Mama.”

“I know. I know. I just wish you hadn’t had to go through it.”

“What? My marriage?”

“No, no. My divorce.”

“Ah mama, that’s spilled formula.”

Mama smiled. “I just wish you didn’t. That’s all.”

That’s not all. I wish I could tell her. I can’t. This is my reality, the only place I know, being a mom to my baby and swimming with sharks while trying not to become one of them. The surface is a painting. The world under the water is a painting. An artist uses oil to paint clear water, waves, spray, and whales frolicking. Oil can never be water. Paint can never be a true story. That is the reality.

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