Our house was once a sanctuary of peace, comfort, and joy. After everything that happened, I couldn't go back there. Just the thought of being there made me anxious and overwhelmed. So, I was relieved when Avery told me that we were going to stay in New York for a while. Leaving Atlanta wasn't easy for me. I knew I would miss my family and their support, but I hoped some time away would help me heal.
Healing and moving in seemed to be out of reach. I carried so many emotions with me, the guilt, pain, and memories of that night. I've been all over the place with my emotions. It's been over a week since Henry attacked me and I killed him in self-defense. I lost another baby. It's been extremely hard and I just wanted to be okay. I tried to sleep away the guilt. I thought some time alone would give me some clarity but it didn't. I continued to feel down no matter what I did.
All I could think about was Adam and Tariq, the men that died trying to save me. I found out that Tariq had a daughter. I felt guilty that my problems affected them so tragically. Though Avery gave them money to pay for their funerals and any other final expenses, I felt that it wasn't enough. I wanted to do more, but I didn't really know what to do.
Avery tried his best to pick me back up. At moments it worked, like when he gave me the beautiful pendant honoring our twins. I don't know how he knew, but I needed that. It feels like I have a part of them with me. It's crazy how a picture and precious metal seemed to help me cope more than anything else, but I had a lot of work to do. Things still weren't completely right, but it was better than before.
As I sat on the balcony of our penthouse, I took in the sight and the busy and loud sounds of Manhattan, a huge contrast from the green and quiet suburbs of Atlanta. I heard the sliding door open. I glanced back and saw my handsome husband. He was dressed casually in dark jeans and a navy hoodie. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders, causing my lips to part and cheeks to rise.
"You've been out here for a while. Are you okay?" he asked.
"Yes. I was just thinking... Actually, thinking about the twins. We never talked about what we would have named them," I said.
He held me a little tighter. I grabbed his hands and guided them around my waist. I always felt comfortable and safe when he wrapped his strong arms around me.
"I've been thinking about it ever since I found out you were pregnant. If they were boys, Alex and Micah. If they were girls, Ava and Marlee... I know right now you don't want to think about having more, but I want to try again later," he said just above a whisper.
I didn't want anymore. I knew at 34 my chances were becoming slim to none. I could not deal with having another miscarriage. So, I decided to avoid that topic entirely.
"I love the names you picked. I think I want to add their initials to this pendant," I said, holding the necklace up.
"Sure, Bee. That would be nice. I think we should head inside. It's getting cold. I don't want you to get sick... Oh, and my mom is here. She's going to watch our kids for a while. Give us some time alone."
"That's nice, but I'm fine. I like it out here. I have a lot on my mind. I just need a little bit more time to myself."
"You know you can talk to me. What's on your mind?"
He sat down on one of the chairs. Then he pulled me onto his lap. I was thinking about going back to Atlanta since last night. I didn't feel right about missing the funerals. I also didn't want Aiden to miss out on his first birthday party. He'll be one next week. We had it all planned and I've been going through so much that I haven't even addressed it or canceled it. I wasn't sure how he would react, but I knew I had to more transparent and honest with him.
"Ave, I want to go back to Atlanta."
"Why? You don't like it here?" he asked anxiously.
I saw the tension in his face and his grip became tighter. I softly kissed his cheek to calm him down.
"I like it. It's just I've been thinking about Adam and Tariq. We owe it to their families to be there. I need to support them. They made the ultimate sacrifice for me. It would kill me inside if I wasn't there. Tariq's daughter is the same age as Maddie. Maddie could have been without me. I want to do more for his little girl. I want to help with her education and anything else she needs."
He looked a bit relieved but sad at the same time. He kissed my forehead.
"Okay, Bee. I'll make some calls. After the funerals, we are coming right back here. I want you to talk to someone, okay?"
"Okay, but we can't forget Aiden's party. I don't think he should miss out because of everything that happened."
"I know, but I didn't think you would be ready to be around... people yet."
"I'll be alright. I just want to feel normal again. I think the party will help. I miss my family and friends. I know the kids miss them too. I think it will be a good way to end the visit. So, can we leave tomorrow?"
"You know I can't say no to your sexy ass." He grinned.
"I know, Mr. Rowland," I smirked.
He grinned and kissed me on the lips. I love kissing him. It's the best thing in the world. Sometimes I wanted to do more, but I still had some hesitations. So I pulled away and got up. I went back inside to make some plans.
Tariq's funeral was scheduled for this upcoming Tuesday and Adam's on Thursday. Aiden's party was this Saturday. I needed to book a hotel, confirm with the party planner, and get a few outfits ready for the funeral. My stomach hasn't gone back down yet as expected. I didn't feel confident enough to wear any of my clothes. I didn't want the public to know I was pregnant. I didn't want to look pregnant and make people speculate on some of those ridiculous rumors. I also didn't want to burden any of my family with trying to accommodate my family last minute.
Avery came inside and grabbed my hand. He had that look again like he pitied me. I knew he was worried about me but sometimes I wish he didn't always treat me as if I was this fragile delicate piece of glass.
"You good?" he asked.
"Yeah. I was just thinking. Are we flying commercial or private?"
At this rate, I think it's time for us to buy a jet. We have been traveling a lot lately.
"Private. Drew and my family are coming with us. They don't want to miss Aiden's party."
"That's nice. I'm glad they can come. Well, I'm going to make some calls," I said, heading toward our bedroom.
After reserving our accommodations and confirming with the event planner, I packed two small bags for myself and my children. I was eager to get back.
The next morning, we were all ready to go. Drew drove us to the airport. Avery's parents, his aunt Sienna, and his favorite cousin Joe were all waiting for us. The rest of his family were going to fly out Friday to make the party. I greeted and hugged them all. Of course, they gave me sympathetic looks and told me how much they were praying for me. It was making me a bit uncomfortable. I was having doubts about going back. I was tired of the looks filled with pity and sadness from everyone.
We finally arrived in Atlanta. My in-laws decided to stay at our house, which was fine with me. According to Avery, my parents made sure that the house was all put back together. I just couldn't go there right now. After they left, we went to the hotel close to downtown. We checked in and got comfortable in the presidential suite. Maddie constantly complained and cried about not being at home. I called my mother-in-law and told her to come and get this kid before I threw the whole child away.
After Maddie left, I ordered lunch for Aiden, Avery, and myself. We ate lunch but Avery seemed distracted. I had a feeling that he was keeping something from me, but I just wasn't in the mood to try to drag it out of him with so much going on this week. I still had a few things that needed to be done the next day. I called my bestie Jade and asked her to go shopping for me since I wasn't ready to be out in the public just yet. I normally wasn't bothered too much by paparazzi or people in general. I felt that I was able to live a normal life, but the recent interest in every detail of my life made it difficult.
A few hours later, she bought me six options to try on. I went with the two most basic but flattering dresses. I didn't want to draw any extra attention to myself. I didn't do much after I got my outfit together but watch tv. Then I finished the night with my baby boy. I felt like we didn't get to spend any quality time together this past month. At times, I felt like a bad mother because I couldn't be there to for them. I tried my best to get back to our routine. I sang to him and played with him. I covered him with kisses, cuddles, and hugs. I gave him a bath and read him a bedtime story. He was the happiest I've seen him in a while. As he drifted off to sleep, I held on to him and admired my beautiful child, until Avery came to tell me I needed to get some rest. I went to bed with a heavy heart. I couldn't stop thinking about the funeral and how I would be received.
Would they hate me? Did they blame?
I blamed myself. How could I not? My mind kept thinking of the possible scenarios as I tossed and turned all night. By the time I finally fell asleep, it was time to get up.
We had breakfast and my sister-in-law Brooke came to get Aiden. I didn't want to take him to the funeral. I got dressed and patiently waited for my husband. There was a knock on the door. I checked the peephole and saw Drew. I opened the door and hugged him. Avery came to the living room. They greeted each other. Then we all headed to the SUV. I grabbed Avery's hand hoping it would calm me down. He grabbed my hand and kissed it.
"It's going to be fine," he said.
"I hope so," I whispered.
"I'm here with you, so it will."
I leaned over and kissed him. He put his arms around me and held the entire ride to the church. I saw a few news vans and photographers. I checked my makeup and took a deep breath. Avery helped me out of the car. I saw a few lights flashing. He placed his hands on my back and guided me inside. The church was full of mourners. We sat near the back.
The service was nice. I learned more about Tariq. He was a good man. Then we went to give our condolences to his family. I was nervous, but Tariq's mother smiled at me and that put me at ease. She hugged me and thanked us for our help. His daughter, Talia hugged and thanked me too. Seeing her eyes full of confusion and sadness was devastating. I just broke down and cried. I sobbed uncontrollably. Avery took my hand and guided me back to the truck.
"You can't do this to yourself. Their deaths weren't your fault. Henry did it, not you... I'm not letting you go to the other funeral," he ordered.
I couldn't talk and express the turmoil deep inside. So, I just placed my head on his chest and cried. We went back to the hotel and I went straight to bed. I fell back into my slump. I realized that my husband was right, going to that funeral only set me back. I found myself in the bed crying or just sitting in silence. I turned off my phone and ignored the world. I had to get through this. I really needed help. So, I skipped Adam's funeral.
While Avery went to represent our family at Adam's memorial, I went to seek help. I went back to my grief counselor and therapist, Jackie Powell. She specializes in trauma and grief. I liked and related to her since she's experienced some of the things that I went through. I sat on her dark brown leather couch, ready to start the process.
"Blaire, let's start with guilt. You told me via email that guilt is your main concern. It seems that you feel like you can't fix mistakes or make amends. I understand that recent events are having a negative impact on you. I want to help you address these emotions and reframe your feelings about what happened... What do you feel guilty about? Do you feel guilty about Henry's death?" she said as she wrote down some notes.
"I don't regret or feel guilty about shooting Henry. I hate to say it, but I'm happy he's dead. He can't hurt anyone ever again... My guilt stems from not telling my husband and the FBI about what he did. I feel like my silence is the reason my babies, Adam, and Tariq are dead... My silence caused- is causing issues in my marriage," I explained.
"I want you to understand that you are not responsible for other people's actions. You are not responsible for their deaths. You made decisions based on protecting your family and yourself. You did nothing wrong."
I wish I could completely believe that I didn't have any responsibility in losing my twins, Tariq and Adam's death, and everything else that happened. I still struggled to accept that what happened wasn't my fault.
"A part of me believes that, but I still question myself. What if I said something or didn't do this or that? Would things be different?" I said, rubbing my hands together.
"We can not change the past." She reached forward and grabbed my hand.
"I know." I sighed.
"We can make amends, repair damage caused, forgive ourselves, learn to accept what happened, and consider how we can make a different choice in the future. I want you to work on accepting what happened and accept it wasn't your fault. Accept what you are feeling and that it's challenging. Then I want you to ask yourself how you can take care of yourself right now. I suggest writing a letter to yourself, offering acceptance, love, and compassion. Forgiveness and acceptance are two things I want you to focus on."
She let go of my hand and picked up her notepad and pen again.
"Okay. I can do that. I want to do that, " I said.
"That's great. I know you have done the work in the past and I'm glad that you are eager to work through this." She smiled.
"Thanks. I want to move forward. I want to be me again. I also want to improve my relationship with my husband. Things are better, but I hate how he views me as this fragile weak person... And I find it hard to be intimate with him," I admitted.
"Is sexual intimacy the issue or other forms of intimacy such as experiential, emotional, or intellectual?"
"Mainly sexual. I want to have sex with my husband, but I can't get... what Henry did out of my head. Every time we get close I freak out or I feel ashamed," I said, looking at the beige carpeted floors.
"I went through the same feelings with my partner. I experienced child abuse and later sexual assault as an adult. Open communication with my partner is key to getting back into intimacy. I had to accept that it happened and it had nothing to do with me, but with my abusers. As well as therapy."
"Yeah, that's true," I said nodding my head. Then I glanced at the clock and realized I've been here for over two hours. "I'm sorry we went over."
"It's okay. I'm here for you any time. I know you're in New York for a while. I still want to continue our sessions remotely. Is that okay with you?"
"Of course. Thank you so much. Well, I'll talk to you soon." I smiled.
We hugged and then I headed back to the lobby. Then Drew picked me up and took me back to the hotel. I got back to my room, feeling much better. Finally venting all my pent-up thoughts and feelings helped a lot. Counseling was the best choice I ever made. It was very effective at reducing the effects of adverse trauma that I've been dealing with for months. Sometimes I felt like was stuck in a room full of locked doors, suffocating and suffering. Therapy didn't automatically open the doors, but it showed me how to make the keys, and how to get out of the depths of trauma, guilt, and pain myself.