Monday, October 26, 2009

Yesterday's Child

My name is Michael. Yesterday I was part of a family of four, but today there goes my dad.

There goes my dad. There goes his big TV. There goes his laugh. There goes his car that took me to basketball practice every Tuesday night. There goes our computer. There goes the after work hugs that I stood by the door and waited for when he came home from work. There goes our sofa. There goes his grill that made steaks every Friday night. There goes my dad.

I got my dad when I turned five years old. He met my mom at a baseball game. They fell in love and got married. When I turned seven I got a sister. She made our family a family of four.

Every Sunday after church we went to Nanny and Nana’s house to eat Sunday dinner. I’m still not sure why they call it Sunday dinner when it is really lunch, but I enjoyed it whatever it was called.

Nanny and Nana are my dad’s mom and grandma. They both lost their husbands early so they live together and my sister and I sometimes spend the night over there. They both cook and read us books. Sophie and I love their old house. It has heat that comes up from the floor, and in the winter we stand really close and warm up our cold toes. The smell of hot soup fills the house and hot chocolate comes right after lunch.

Now that my mom and dad are getting a divorce, will I still go to Nanny and Nana’s house?

Will we still go to church with them? What about my cousins in Iowa? Will I see them again?

Will my dad stop loving me? My heart is beating so fast. I don’t want to lose my family. I want to yell really loud, but he can’t hear me. He has already driven away from our house. I can’t see his blue car anymore. I can’t see my dad.

Will we still live here? Will my sister still live here? Will my mom leave too?

My mom sees me crying at our front door watching him drive away. I don’t want her to feel like she is not enough, but what if she isn’t?

Her hug feels good. I know she loves me. She can do this. I know she is tough. We still have her family. They love me and they can’t say that I am not family anymore.

My aunt pulls into the driveway. All of her kids are with her. I have never been so excited to see my cousin, Cole. He hits my left arm and I hit him back. It feels good.

The next few months my mom’s family keeps stopping by our house at least once a week.

We started going to another church, and I met some really cool new friends. My mom and my aunt started spending a lot of time together which meant I got to hang out with Cole. We are only a few years apart, so we are a lot alike.

I am still at the same school, so I got to keep my real friends.

I quit basketball. My dad used to be my coach. It hurt too much to play without him. My mom didn’t want me to quit, but I think she understood why.

It was a year ago today that my dad drove away, so my Papa stopped by to see me.

Papa and I throw the ball around outside in the front yard. He thinks I have a good arm and should go out for football next year. If we keep practicing on Sundays, I might just do that.

My mom is standing at the front door holding the phone.

“Michael.” My mom sounds sad.

“What is it mom?” I yell from the front yard, now walking toward her.

“Nanny died this morning,” my mom tries to give me a hug.

I run to my room crying. I haven’t seen her in over a year. Sophie still got to see her after the divorce, but I didn’t. I am so angry and sad all at the same time.

The next few days are really weird. My dad remarried right after he left, and his new wife is going to have a baby soon.

My mom and I sit on the back row. The funeral is at our old church.

I can see my dad and his new wife sitting with my sister on the front row. The casket is in front of them. His face looks longer than I remember. My sister sits on his lap. I am jealous. I wish I could just run up there and sit on his lap and get a big hug. I wish I was still his son. I wish he still loved me.

Our old church looks the same. Nothing has really changed. I wonder if anyone notices how much I have changed. My hair is longer and I have grown a lot, and I am not the same on the inside either.

My mom whispers to me that she has a surprise for me when we leave. I can’t wait.

As soon as they sing the last song, we leave. My sister stays with her dad.

She took me to her friend Tim’s house. He knows a guy that works at the Talon’s indoor football stadium. I got to go to a real indoor football stadium and throw the football to Tim. I run to catch the pass. We play ball all afternoon.

Mom brings us both some water and a sandwich. Tim likes PB & J just like me.

I like Tim, but he isn’t my dad. He is my friend.

As we drive away from the stadium, I look at my mom.

“You’re doing a good job, Mom.”

Yesterday feels like a long time ago.

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