I’ll get it for you but. . . just act surprised for your mother when youopen the card. Okay dad, I answered as we walked up to the counter.
My father paidfor the card and we left the store. It was a week before Valentines Day in 1987. I was nine years old andintensely anxious. Expectation for February 14 had overcome every other thoughtI previously had.
It might seem funny to some that I held that one day withsuch great esteem, but to me it was unlike any other holiday. On Valentines DayI felt loved by everyone. On that day, I would obtain the card that I hadpicked out from my father. Classmates would give everyone Valentine cards. Someextremely generous kids would even attach candy to the cards.
It didn’t matterif you hated each other, on Valentines Day everyone put aside their differencesand even presented cards to the children nobody liked. That one day of loveseemed to unify the worst of foes through love and forgiveness. I could hardlywait for that day to come. As the night before Valentines Day had rolled around, anticipation hadescalated to an all time peak.
Nevertheless, it was all set aside as my parentsonce again started to fight. My brother and I were sent to the car in the garageso that we would not witness them fighting. We knew the routine. I was scaredand I could still hear angry voices dueling back and forth. My brother was asenior in high school and even he seemed frightened when they fought.
Althoughhe tried to hide his fear, I knew he was afraid when my father would go on arampage. An hour passed by and my brother and I decided to go back inside. The house was still. A pin could have dropped and we would of heard it.
My father had gone to lay down in his bed. This action was suggested by themarriage counselor that my parents had been visiting. Whenever my father gotangry, he was supposed to rest until he calmed down. The problem was that hewould lay down after he had let out all his anger, verbally or physically.
My mother came downstairs. She had gathered some stuff together. Comeon, get your jackets and get in the car. After we went to our rooms to get our coats, we went outside and gotinto our old station wagon that my brother used to drive to school. My brotherput the car in neutral and coasted out of our driveway and down the hill.
Atthe bottom of the hill he turned the ignition and drove to a friend’s house tostay for the evening. My mother called my father from there. I was down in the basement with the two children of the family, talkingto them. I mentioned that my parents might get divorced, but in my stomach Iknew they wouldn’t. How could my parents even discuss such a thing onValentines Day? Besides, we were talking about my mother and my father.
Divorcing only happens to other kids parents. I felt comforted as I drifted offto sleep. The next morning when I woke up, I was sick to my stomach. My allergiesto the family’s two Siamese cats must have acted up. My mother told me we weregoing home so to get dressed.
We arrived home shortly. As we drove into the driveway I noticed all ofthe curtains were shut. We opened the door and stepped into the dark house. Ilooked around for my father but he wasn’t there.
I had learned that my fatherwent to stay with a coworker. Where did Valentines Day go? Had I missed it? The whole idea ofValentines Day is to celebrate love and togetherness. Yet the decision toseparate had come on this day of unity. I felt nauseous. My mother comforted me and told me my father’s move was temporary. However I now knew what was happening; this change was permanent.
It’s for thebetter, my mother told me. .