Musical Selection: Patti Labelle & Michael McDonald|On My Own
Part V: Learning to leave anger in the past
“How dare that son of a bitch put our daughter in the middle like this?! I hated him before, but now?! Rena, I could gut that fool. I’m so angry right now!”
“I know you are. But we have bigger fish to fry now. Bree isn’t mad at you. She isn’t mad at me. She is still open to making amends and being a part of your life again. Cari, that’s big. That’s huge! The universe will deal with Marcus.”
The universe and everything good and beautiful will deal with Marcus.
The morning light peeks in and kisses Cari gently on her cheek. I look at her as she sleeps — so peaceful. So calm. Last night had been an interesting turn of events. It was Marcus the whole time, behind the crazy ploy of me not attending Bree’s graduation. Why would he even think that would work?
“Good morning, beautiful.”
Cari turns to me, looks at me sheepishly, and smiles. She is full of sunshine and elegance. All the years of drugs and pain and torture seem to disappear when I look at her. Her beauty is everlasting.
“Good morning, my love. Are you ready for today? You are coming with me to get our tickets to Bree’s graduation, yes?”
The thickness of her Dutch accent clutches me — reels me in and takes me hostage. I had been thinking about this, and it seems like something she and Marcus should approach as Bree’s parents. I don’t think I should be there for this.
“I’ve been thinking about this, Cari. Marcus has already shown us how he feels about me. This — this entire issue needs resolving and I think you should go at this one alone. While you’re away, I’ll clean up, pack us a couple of light bags, and after the graduation is done, we’ll take a short trip away from these last few days.”
Cari sits up in my bed, raises herself on her elbows, cups my chin in her hands, and steals my heart yet again with her words.
“I won’t let him make me . . . us uncomfortable. Marcus is a baby in a man’s body with plenty of unsettled issues. I will do this alone . . . this time. If he crosses us again, I won’t do it alone. Understood?”
“I hear you and I understand.”
I watch Cari, as she leaves my place. Everything in me feels like shifting — like maybe I made the wrong decision to let her do this alone, but I won’t waver. I’m sure there will be other times we’ll have to stand toe to toe with Marcus and his antics.
When we first started dating, we had some serious knock-down drag-outs with him, and since then, it has been a blessing — learning to leave anger in the past. Learning to live my life with a more Zen-like approach to things rather than raging through it uncontrollably.
Cari may be recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, but I used to be full of anger — that was my drug. That was my nemesis. I gave it up four years ago with the help of counseling, yoga, and taking on more clients.
Bodywork is where I release. Knowing that I can provide a peaceful and tension-free experience for my clients gives me an incredible sense of purpose — an understanding of how important my work is.
Cari will be okay. She’s got this.
I hate that Rena won’t come with me, but I understand her stance on this. Marcus has always been sly and cunning. It wasn’t until we brought a child into this world that I opened — truly opened my eyes to who he was and how he handled life.
And I hated it.
He was not the man I wanted to raise my child with. He could not be who I wanted — who I needed. He lacked the emotional wherewithal to sustain life with me. And after our divorce, the drugs took over, and he had a field day turning our child against me.
As I approach his home, Bree rushes out to greet me. I park the car, ease myself out of it, and walk over to my child. I cannot believe how much she has grown — how lively she looks — how beautiful she is.
Every inch of my body is shaking. She pulls me into the tightest hug I have had in years, and I step back to look at her once again.
“Bree . . . baby girl, you are so beautiful. I am looking at me!”
“Haha. Dad says that all the time, ‘You look just like your mother.’ I think sometimes it angers him — the fact that I look so much like you. Where’s Rena?!”
“She decided it was best for me to come and do this alone. So, I am here by myself to get the tickets and speak to your daddy.”
“He isn’t here. He’s been gone since I woke up this morning — not answering his text messages, either. I kind of figured he’d do that. I told him you were coming to get the tickets.”
I let out an exasperated sigh. He knows there is unsettled business — feelings that I need to get off my chest regarding how he’d been manipulating our child. What a coward!
“Okay, Bree. I will talk to him. He will know how I feel and also how Rena feels about his actions. Let me get these tickets and head back to Rena’s place so we can get ourselves together.”
I watch her skip off happily in front of me toward their home. We settle into their kitchen, and she retrieves the tickets from her purse. She confirms the money had been received via CashApp. I hug her tightly, tell her I’ll see her tomorrow, and I head back to Rena’s.
“You should have seen her, Rena — all bubbly and tall and gorgeous! God, the child is the spitting image of me!”
“Haha. You’re kidding, right?! Sabrina has always been the spitting image of you!”
“How have I not seen it before? Seriously, babe. She has my entire face!”
“She always had your entire face! She has your heart, too. I think and I fear, though — the more she’s around her dad, the more he’ll attempt to influence her.”
“And that is what I don’t want. I can’t wait to see her tomorrow in her cap and gown. She has been through a lot — I put her through a lot, but she still got good grades and is going to an exceptional university!”
“She’s a brilliant kid, and I can’t wait to see her continue to excel in life. I’m also looking forward to the two of you building a bond once again.”
We settle into the afternoon sun. The two of us sit peacefully on my balcony, sipping iced coffee, and eating danishes. I take one look at this woman — the woman I love — the woman I would lose myself for, and I feel tears escaping my eyes.
We have the rest of our lives ahead of us — working on who we were, who we need to be, and growing away from our past.
I love her without fail and I will always love her until I cannot.
“Cari,” I whisper lightly in her direction. “Will you move back in with me?”
And as I wait for the answer, the silence in the pause causes my heart to race. She pushes her body up from the chair, smiles slyly at me, and whispers right back . . .
“My love, I have always been here.”
This concludes the At 4 am, She Calls for Comfort series. Thank you for reading!