The day my dad told my mom that he got his assistant pregnant was unlike any other day I’d ever lived through. My sixteenth birthday had just passed and things were running smoothly in my life up until that point.
I was starting to find myself interested in playing piano because I’d signed up to be in a musical elective class. My friends were all on the same page as me in pretty much every area of life… we all wished we had boyfriends and we all wished we had bigger boobs. My parents seemed to be quite happy and if they weren’t, they were fooling everyone who looked their way. They certainly fooled me.
My sixteenth birthday dinner wasn’t anything too crazy. My parents took me to a restaurant and let me order whatever I wanted. They handed me my gifts and watched me unwrap them with smiles on their faces. I watched my mom reach across the table to squeeze my dad’s hand. Everything was fine… I thought.
A few days later, my dad sat my mother down and told her his assistant was six weeks pregnant with his child. Everything started to crumble and deteriorate from there.
His assistant was a 21-year-old college student named Trisha who started working for him three months prior. My dad was the manager of a technology repair company. He was always very passionate about his work and he was so vocally fulfilled by what he did for a living that it didn’t seem peculiar when he started coming home late from work all the time.
Instead of begging my mother for forgiveness after he admitted the truth, his confession actually worsened. Evidently he was “in love” with Trisha. He wanted to start a life with her. He wanted to divorce my mom and marry Trisha so that he could be there for her throughout her pregnancy and be a good father to his soon-to-be newborn.
My mother was so stunned that she didn’t put up a fight. Her reaction went from being shell shocked and stupefied to total and utter blankness. I never saw her get emotional about the situation the entire time that it was unfolding. I’m sure she kept that part hidden from me behind closed doors.
All I ever saw from my mother was numb and complete expressionlessness. Her eyes were glazed over as if she was dead… I never even saw her shed a tear.
My dad knocked on my bedroom door the night he was officially moving out.
“Can I come in, Daffodil?” he asked. Since my name is Daphne, my dad has always called me Daffodil. He started calling me that when I was a baby and he never stopped.
I always loved it when he would call me Daffodil.
“You can come in,” I responded.
“I’m sorry you’re hurting. I’m sorry about everything. Your mother knows how sorry I am too.”
That night, I silently nodded my head with a tight-lipped face because I was unable to openly express what I was thinking or feeling. I stared straight ahead at my bedroom wall, avoiding all eye contact with him.
He continued: “You’re sixteen now… you’re two years away from heading off to college. I’ve been here with you for your whole life and I know you know deep down that the right thing for me to do now is to be there for your little brother or sister once they’re born… the same exact way I’ve been here for you.”
I remained tight-lipped and didn’t move a single bone in my body as he spoke.
He went on: “I’m still your dad, Daffodil. I love you so much. I’m still always going to take care of you. I’m still going to spend as much time with you as I possibly can… I’m just not going to be living under the same roof as you anymore.”
I nodded my head once again.
Then I looked up at his face for the first time since he’d been standing there in my doorway. I saw tears rolling down his cheeks.
I jumped out of my bed and nearly collapsed into his arms, hugging him as tight as I possibly could. I realized at that moment that he was still my dad and that even though I was extraordinarily angry with him, I still loved him.
After he left that night, the house didn’t feel the same anymore. It felt empty.
Suddenly the house felt chilly all the time and its constant silence became unbearable. I would sit at the dinner table with my mother and watch her chew her food like a soulless robot.
A couple of months after the dust had settled from the whole ordeal and their divorce had been finalized, I remember sitting beside my mom on the sofa and asking her, “Are you okay?”
“I’m great,” she said to me with a weak smile. She leaned over and hugged me. I hugged her back even though the only thought that I could hear bouncing around in my head was about how incredibly fake she was being. She was not feeling great. She was lying to me.
I began to notice that she wasn’t sleeping in her own bedroom anymore either. She was always falling asleep in the living room by the fireplace with a glass of wine and a movie playing loudly on the TV. She barely ever entered her bedroom in general.
It seemed like she wanted to avoid the intimate spaces she shared with my father by any means necessary. It seemed like she didn’t want to be reminded of anything having to do with him.
Then one night my mom peeked her head into my bedroom and asked if I was busy.
“Not busy at all, mom,” I responded, “What’s up?”
“We’re moving!” she announced with a smile on her face.
“We are?” I asked. “Where?”
“Just a few cities away from here. To Fairview Hills.”
“That’s... almost about an hour away.”
“I know!” she quipped excitedly.
I didn’t say anything. Because I understood. My dad was able to get a fresh start when he left my mom. He was able to move somewhere new and start over in a fresh environment in a new house with a new woman. My mom was the one left stranded in the middle of all their memories.
I missed my old mom at that moment. The mom I had before my dad left her. The mom she used to be was fun and lighthearted. She was free-spirited and silly. After he left, she suddenly had no personality. Talking to her was like talking to a wall. Conversations with her were constantly dry and unengaging.
Her telling me that we were going to move was the first time I’d seen her get genuinely excited about something for a very long time.
So we moved to Fairview Hills.