Musical Selection: Post Malone featuring Doja Cat|I Like You (A Happier Song)
Part IV: A turn of events Cari had not envisioned
We stood in silence. Teardrops from her big, bold, and dark eyes fell onto my hands. I danced in a circle as I held her close to me. Our breaths pushed from our chests and forced us to stay in sync with one another. How will we deal with this? I don’t yet know, but what I know is this … we have a chance at a new beginning, and daughter or not, I will stand guard against Sabrina if I have to. I won’t watch her break her mother’s heart for a second time.
Once was enough.
After a few moments of standing, holding Cari in my arms, she finally speaks. I feel her body shake. As she breathes in and out, I feel the heaves of her chest. I don’t want to let her go. Her head lifts up and out of my embrace. She speaks …
“When Sabrina was a little girl, I was her everything. I couldn’t even move from room to room without her attached to my hip or tagging along, cuffing my lower legs. We were inseparable. After her daddy left, I hit that damn pipe harder than ever and lost my baby girl for a few years. I try to go back to those days — try to push my body to that time, and I ain’t moving, Rena. I ain’t moving.”
“Cari, you have done all that you can for Bree. I’ve seen you maneuver through various mood swings of hers and her violent attacks on you just a few years back. You have tried. You are trying, babe. You are. And when you have left these addictions behind, you are going to be so much better. Either she’ll see it or she won’t”
“How can she deny me the happiness I have in you? How can she not invite you? Have you not been around for her the last six years of her life?! Even when we weren’t speaking, the two of you were still connected. I don’t get it!”
I watched Cari as she searched for what would make this make sense. And there is nothing. There will be nothing to make this behavior from Sabrina make any of this fathomable. Sure, she has had to fight for her mom’s attention when Cari was strung out on crack cocaine and every label of liquor under the sun, but she has changed — she is changing.
You only get one mother.
I look at Cari. The tears fill up in her eyes and do not drop. My heart breaks into pieces. She is so much and so little and everything under the sun all at once.
“I am going to call her. I’m not going, Rena. If you can’t come … If she doesn’t want you there with me. I am not going. I’m just not!”
The room fills with intensity, and the silence between us is thick and long. Cari wails at the top of her lungs and I stand helplessly feeling all the years we have endured adding up right before my eyes.
“Cari, you need to be there for Bree. Her high school graduation? She needs to see her mother there. I’ll be okay.”
“NO! If she tells me when and where I can bring my partner now, Rena, it will never end. Do you want to be removed from all other aspects of my life with Bree? Do you?! Who does she think she is?!”
Cari has a point. If I cannot come to the graduation, what next? Her wedding, the birth of her first child, her first child’s christening, etc. It will never end. I wish we weren’t in this predicament. Something happened. Something shifted. Sabrina loves me.
“I’m calling right now, Rena!”
“Sabrina Melanie Janssen, just who do you think you are?! Telling me I can’t bring Rena to your graduation — what kind of shit is this, really?”
“Hi, Mom. I … it isn’t my idea. I … Daddy’s paying for the extra tickets cuz the school only gives me ten and he said he’s not paying for Rena to come.”
“I see. Why didn’t you just say that?! Why would you tell me she couldn’t come?”
“Daddy was standing right next to me. Mom … I don’t know what to do or what to say around him. I love Rena. You know that. He hates it when I talk about her or when I say how happy she makes you. I didn’t want the stress of it all. As soon as I said she couldn’t come, though, he smiled.”
“Okay. I’ll fix your daddy. Don’t worry about him. How much are the tickets, because I’ll just buy one for Rena and that’ll solve that.”
“$15.00. I have three left. I’ll put one to the side for Rena. Mom, tell Rena it wasn’t me, please. Please.”
“We will handle all of this. I’ll send the money to your CashApp for Rena’s ticket, and I’ll come and pick both of them up tomorrow. I’ll deal with your daddy at that time, too. I love you, baby girl.”
A turn of events Cari had not envisioned greets us. The look on her face is enough to turn a frown upside down. I hear the joy in her voice as she tells me what happened — why Bree had said I could not come to the graduation. And I guess some bridges do need burning even if we still have to cross them.
“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.
Part I, Part II, and Part III
Originally published in Prism & Pen via Medium.