Everything has changed since Luke died. Not actually, as in, we’re going to work, having dinner together, watching Netflix together on weekends like a normal family. Seen from outside, you can say we’re getting on track. It’s the little things which we usually don’t noticed have changed. I see it sometimes, when I’m talking to Dave and he’s not able to look me in the eye for longer than a few seconds. We talk but not actually. He talks about things like, “What should we do about dinner”, or, “How’s everything at work” and something similar but nothing remotely related to, “Hey! 6 months ago, we lost our 5-year-old son in an accident and both of us are still in shock but why don’t we ever talk about it?”.
Even Ryan has changed a lot. He has become this quiet kid. The other day, he was at his friend’s for a sleepover. Later, his friend’s mother called me to let me know how worried she was about him because all night he was sitting near the bedroom window. He hardly ate anything and she was sure she heard him cry near the staircase late night.
He has become this distant kid which is very annoying, especially for me. I cannot say if it is the same for Dave. It’s very frustrating even to think about how Ryan would be feeling right now. He has lost his younger brother and his parents are clearly not dealing with their grief properly.
I am a good mother. It is the one thing I knew from the day we had Ryan. Dave took a backseat when he saw how I took care of almost everything. He is a good father too, when he has to be. I didn’t mind it at all. I wanted my boys all to myself because I loved them to death. 2 years ago, when Ryan was 12, I decided to go back to work. Dave supported my decision and promised that he will put in extra efforts with the kids. I loved that he understood how he has mostly been an observer till then without me ever expressing that. But I realized I never needed any help even after I started working. I used to wake up early, make breakfast for them, clean up after them, pick them up from school. I was always early while picking them up from school.
Until that day.
Ryan was sick and had to stay at home. I was supposed to pick up Luke after school. I was 5 minutes late. Poor Luke, my innocent little Luke, who has never seen a time when his mother was not their standing at the sidewalk waiting for him with a smile, didn’t know what to do when I wasn’t there. Generally, the teacher stays with the kids at the door until the last of them is picked up by their parents. But Luke didn’t wait for a second. As soon as he got out and couldn’t find me, he ran towards the street to reach the turn to see if my car was coming from there. It wasn’t the teacher’s fault. He couldn’t leave 15 other kids to run towards Luke. Also, they told me it happened too fast for anyone to be able to do anything. No one saw the bus coming from the other side.
Tonight, I couldn’t take it anymore. When Ryan went upstairs after finishing dinner, tears came out of my eyes. Dave saw me crying at the dinner table and ask me what happened which turned my sorrow into anger. I threw the plates off the table and looked at his in the eye. This time he did not avert his.
I poured it all on him.
“What is going on between us! You haven’t said a word about Luke’s death since it happened. Tell me what is in your mind! I know you blame me! I know I’m not as smart as you but I can take a hint. You cannot even look me in the eyes anymore! I know how much you love to rub my mistakes in my face. You wait for the PERFERT TIME and then blast them all one by one to humiliate me during a fight. But it has been 6 months now! Lay it on me, Dave! But you know what?! I’m sick of you. I’m sick of you making me feel like I’m nothing and you’re holier than heaven, with your silence. It was like this even before all this! You let me do everything and thought as if you’re doing me a favour. I was here taking care of our kids all the time and you were doing whatever you like. Lending a hand here and there is not parenting, Dave! We still have a child and he has not talked about losing his brother! He is suffering and we’re not helping him! I was feeling empty like I had nothing else left in my life. You ever thought of that? How you never made me feel good? Like you never cared about how I’m feeling? But instead, you resent me for what happened to our child! Now go one, tell me how you blame me!”
It was a lot to take in for him. He sat down on the table with his head down. Finally, he spoke.
“I could never blame you for his death. It’s because I know for a fact that you’re the best mom these guys could have. I don’t resent you for that, I could never.”
This made me cry more. I sat on the chair and asked him slowly.
“Then what is it Dave? Because there is something that you’re not telling me. You need to tell me and solve this so that we can get on with our life and take care of the son we still have.”
Dave looked at me.
“I called you that day. In the afternoon to remind you to pick some medication for Ryan as he was sick. When you didn’t pick up, I called your office and they told me you left about an hour ago for lunch with your colleague Aaron. It wasn’t odd, I mean, I know Aaron and I know you guys have lunch together sometimes. I thought I would join you guys for lunch and pick up the medicine as well as I was done with work. I went to your usual place for lunch which is closer to Aaron’s house. You weren’t there. Later, I saw you come out of his building with him. He kissed you and you got in your car and left.”
Now, as I looked at Dave, I understood the look in his eyes. He continued.
“I know how much you love Ryan. And I understand that I can never replace you. That’s why I never mentioned it and kept on with our life. But I cannot hide it anymore, can I? You see resentment in my eyes? It’s not because you were late once while picking Luke, it’s because of your affair that made you late that day.”