Mending and Acceptance
Leah’s POV :
I roll out of my bed with a smile on my face this morning. Well, not so morning anymore seeing as it’s twenty minutes past eleven. But I feel good.
Last night, Mom and I spend almost five hours together and for a moment, everything was like it used to be before. It was like the old Leah, Mom’s favorite daughter Leah was back again. I was laughing freely at the jokes Mom told and even I made some of mine. We didn’t even pay attention to the time, we were so engrossed with each other. I’m sure would have have spend the whole night like that if Grant wouldn’t have come back home followed by Dad who came an hour after him.
Dad and I again, after the Christmas breakfast, joined forces in the kitchen for the second time and had fun cooking together while Mom and Grant talked about his college and Mom’s work. During dinner, we all engaged in our usual conversation like the old times and again, I felt as if everything back to the normal and everything was fine.
Except it wasn’t. Somehow, one thing or the other led back to either Sean or Ronnie in form of memories and childhood stories but topics were swiftly changed before I could freeze and reminisce. But overlooking that part of last night, everything else made me happy.
After dinner when Mom and Dad retired to their room, Grant and I stayed up taking some more. We both thought it was a good idea to spend a whole day together as a family like we used to do when we were kids. And that day was today. On my request, Grant had postponed his journey back to college to tomorrow. While all his friends including Dave and Pete leave today, he’ll be with us at home the whole day. Mom and Dad don’t know about this and we plan on surprising them.
When I remember about the surprise part of the plan, I jump from my bed and rush into the shower, doing a quick body cleaning and change into leggings and a shirt dress before running downstairs. Dad usually leaves for the restaurant around noon and I need to get to him before he leaves.
“What’s the rush?” Mom laughs when she sees me stumbling into the kitchen.
“Please tell me Dad didn’t leave already.” I say as my eyes search for him. He’s not in the kitchen.
“Not yet.” His voice sounds from behind me and I turn around and sigh when I see him, still in his sweats and hoodie. “Why, you need anything?” He asks.
I shake my head. “I was just thinking -” I am cut off my a fully dressed Grant entering the dining room and grinning at me.
“- Of stealing Grant’s amazing idea.” He puts and arm around my shoulder and ruffles my hair.
I scowl and punch him, causing him to bend over. “It was my idea, asshat.” I say, annoyed.
He rolls his eyes and goes to sit beside Mom. “Whatever.”
“So?” Dad asks, “What were you thinking?”
Mom looks at me curiously too and suddenly, I’m nervous and unable to say what I said. Grants sees this and reckons me, making me sit beside him. Dad follows and sits across from me too. “She was just thinking that it would be a cool idea to spend a together before I leave for college. You know, like we used to as kids?”
Mom’s eyes shine with excitement and she claps her hands. “Like a picnic?”
Grants shrugs. “Picnic, BBQ, staying and movies - whatever but just us. No work, no friends.”
Dad shifts his attention towards me and asks, his voice curious. “Is that what you want, Princess?”
I gulp and nod. “I thought we could catch up.” I squeak in a small voice.
Dad’s lips twitch in a small smile before turning into a full blown grin. “Yeah? I think it’s an amazing idea too. What do you day, Roma?” He asks Mom.
“I’m always in when it’s family!” She says, more excited than any of us and since it’s infectious, we all grin widely.
“So what do we do?” Dad asks.
Grants turns to look at me and raises a brow. I shrug in response. “You kind going out?” He asks.
I shake my head. “I am up for a picnic like old times. I could use some some in this cold weather.” I say. They all seem to agree with me and almost immediately, we are all rushing with Dad and me preparing snacks to bring and Mom and Grant grabbing blankets, games we could play and other such things and stuffing them in a bag.
In two hours, we are all ready and already heading out towards the Central Park of our city. It’s the largest one I have ever seen, with it’s own lake where you can boat, picnic, a small are of woods, children’s park and walk-way for Morning walkers. We pile up in Dad’s car and reach our destination and soon, we’re making our way towards the soft green patch of grass near the lake - the place to have a picnic in my view.
The blanket is spread and we sit down, talking about random things, cracking jokes, playing card and board games. Grant makes sure to tape every second of our family outing and I realize that I’m having a really good time in a long time. It’s then that I realize how much I miss my family and how distant I’ve grown. My thoughts try to escape back to the bad place but I shake my head and indulge myself in the palm wrestling Grant and Dad are involved in at the moment.
Many people pass by us and we get a lot of weird and curious looks and a whole lot of whispers but we aren’t really paying attention on that. Sure it might be strange to see two grown up children having a picnic with their parents though I don’t think it is, nor should it be but what matters is that we don’t let the stranger’s opinion of us bother us. We laugh genuinely and we enjoy each other’s company and we’re happy.
As I sit and watch Dad chasing Mom, catching her and twirling her around as Grant laughs, recording it all, I realize that these are my people - the people who should matter to me. Sure school’s social life seems important but in a few years, I won’t even know the kids I’m studying with, let alone see them regularly. Their opinion of me shouldn’t matter or bother me as much as it does. Their thoughts of me shouldn’t hurt.
The people who know me, the real me love me for who I am and that should be enough. Mom, Dad, Grant, Tracy, Maggie and Kevin will always be by my side and will always love me, no matter what. They have proved this and shown me that in the past months. And they are the only people who should matter.
Sure my heart was broken by a guy I loved the most but if he broke my heart, then I sure loved the wrong. Instead of wasting what love I have left grieving on him, I have a beautiful family and friends to spend it on.
And I know and I can already feel them filling the hollowness, the void Sean left just by their presence and love. And I realize that Axel and Emilia have made place in my short list of people who matter even though they not know me, not really. A sudden thought passes my head and I begin to wonder what would they do when they come to know about everything? Will they begin to hate me as does the rest of the school?
That thoughts constricts my chest and I shake my head, not wanting to thing about things like that.
When Grant pulls me up and towards where Mom and Dad are standing to take family pictures, I smile wide and follow him. Squished between my parents, I let myself accept that I’m broke, But that don’t mean that I can be mended. After all, mending and acceptance go hand in hand.
Thinking about the days when I hurt my family who I love so much by distancing me from everyone, even myself, I promise myself to allow my heart to heal. If not for me, then for the family who loves me so much. For the friends who stayed by my side through the worst and were subjected to the same hate I was. For Axel and Emilia - the two new editions in my life who have come to be a permanent part of my life and I have a feeling we have a long way to go.
“Say cheese!” Grant cheers and we all obey him like the dorks we are. Horrible poses and facial expressions will soon make their place in the albums of memories and remind me of the time when I was happy even when I was hurting. When I stood tall and strong even when I was crumbling from the inside. When I was loved when I thought I didn’t deserve it. And when I loved when I think I couldn’t do it.
We get back home after eating out at Dad’s restaurant and after reminiscing the day together, we decided to call it a day. Tiredness was dripping from everyone so no one protested, except me, that is.
“Mom, can I go to Kevin’s for a little while?” I ask in hopes that she’s allow seeing he lives just next door.
Mom nodded and gave me a tired smile. “Okay, honey. But get back before midnight.”
“And don’t run off anywhere.” Dad warns.
I nod and run out, excited to see a friend. Kevin’s mom opens the door after I knock and smiles wide seeing me. “Leah, it’s so good to see you. Are you here to see Kevin?”
I nod eagerly. “Yeah, do you mind calling him down?”
She chuckles and lets me in. “You can go up to his room, sweetie. I’m sure he won’t mind.”
I thank her and run upstairs, familiar to the way to Kevin’s room seeing as I’ve been here more times in last few months.
“Kevin!” I sing as I barge into his room without knocking.
He’s in his bed reading the Stephen Hawking book he borrowed from em. He smiles when he sees me. “Hey.” He closes the book and sits up, patting the space beside him. I jump and bounce on his bed. “What brings you here?” He asks.
I narrow my eyes at him. “Can’t I visit a friend?”
He laughs. “You can but I know you aren’t just ‘visiting’ me.” He says with air quotes on the word visiting.
I try to stay impassive but a grin breaks out of me and I begin telling him everything that happened since I got back home after New Year’s till I got to his place. He listens patiently and sighs when I’m done. “Woah. So much progress. I’m so proud of you, my child.”
I stick my tongue out at him. “Thanks, dad.”
He laughs. “I’m really happy you’re not moping around, Lee. I think Cafe Holden has done you good.”
I smile softly and nod. “It has.”
“I’ll have to try it sometimes. See if it’s above Busy Beans.” He says and lies down, his legs dangling from the bed.
I roll my eyes. “Enough about me. What’s going on between you and Tracy?” I ask. I have been curious about it for a long time.
He looks at me shocked and opens and closes his mouth like a fish. “Wh-what do you mean?”
I scoff. “Don’t what do you mean me. Spill.”
He sighs and sits back up. “I’m guessing Tracy didn’t tell you.”
I smile sarcastically at him. “Why do you think I’m asking you, doofus?”
He rolls his eyes. “I just thought she would have. You guys are close and you’re practically her best friend.” He reminds.
I sigh at the best friend part. “Well, she didn’t.” I meet his eyes. “So you’re my only hope.”
He opens his mouth do deny everything again but when he sees my ‘you better not make me pull the truth out of you glare’ he sighs. “Where do I start?”
“The starting would be a good point.” I suggest. He rolls his eyes but begins the story nonetheless. After a few hours of intense discussion between us, I go back to my place and retire to my room.
I sigh and get ready to sleep, meanwhile thinking how long I have come and how long I still have to go. And not only that but I also have to make sure I don’t go distant again or lose the people who matter among everything else.
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