Aspire Magazine: Inspiration for a Woman's Soul.(TM) Oct/Nov 2018 Aspire Mag Full Issue - Page 38

grandparents wonder where I was? Why had my brother said no? We flew to Miami. I leaned against the window and stared at the horizon for the entire flight. By the time we landed, I felt nauseated. My turtleneck and jeans, perfect for the northern winter, had me sweltering down south. I wanted to talk to my dad. Desperately. My mother’s tiny apartment was one block off Biscayne Bay, a fact she highlighted as if the water would entice me to love the squat concrete building. She invited me to look around. I opened a closet, intending to hang up my coat. It was full of men’s clothes. My brain couldn’t compute. Who lived here? Before I could ask, my mother appeared in the doorway. “I was going to tell you. I live here with my boyfriend. You met him once. At the commissary. He was the bread delivery man.” Her words swept over me like a flash flood. “Do you remember him?” I said, “I want to call my dad” and walked to the far side of the room where a telephone sat on the night table. Sinking onto the bed, I dialed the phone number to my grandparents’ house. My dad answered on the first ring. “Hello.” “Daddy,” I whispered. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I want to come home.” Tears streamed down my cheeks and fell onto my lap. “Where are you,” he asked, his voice gruff. After I answered, he said, “Put your mother on.” 38 I slipped out of the room while they spoke. I heard my mother’s voice grow strident as they argued. When she finally emerged, she said, her voice hard, “You’ll be on a flight tomorrow morning.” She brushed past me, the heat of her anger hotter than the Miami temperatures. When I landed in Philadelphia, my dad and grandmother were at the gate. I walked off the gangway to where they waited. Neither hugged or spoke to me. Once they clapped eyes on me, they turned and walked away. I shuffled behind them all the way to the car, my head down. For over thirty years, I based my self- worth on that single event. I told myself that I deserved my father’s ire. I was the family black sheep, undeserving of love. The tape inside my head reminded me of my poor decisionmaking, and it played on a loop. The litmus test I used was my nine-year-old brother’s superior judgment to stay behind. In 2001, when I recounted this story to my therapist, mentioning it as an aside months into our work, she laid down her notepad and pen. Removing her half-moon glasses, she asked, “Why didn’t your brother go with you that day?” “I don’t know.” It had never occurred to me to ask him. I felt foolish. “Debby, who were the adults here?” Her voice was kind and soft. “What would you tell your children in this situation?” I pondered for a moment. “This wasn’t my fault. I was just a kid.” Recognizing the burden I’d carried for what it was, I felt lighter just speaking the words. | October / November 2018