“Is she pretty?”
“Huh?” Have you ever been asked why someone is pretty? Me neither. I needed to investigate the question further. “Why is she pretty?”
“I think she is pretty because I really like the way she looks..pretty.” I almost didn’t buy this answer when it awkwardly fell out of my brain into my mouth. I hope my young inquisitor does.
“What does she look like?”
If I could anticipate the questions of a five year old as they see the world, imagine the angst and concerns that would be removed from my life.
“She has curly, dark hair that comes down to her shoulders-“
“Unh!” He grunted.
“’Unh? What’s ‘Uhh’?” I didn’t think this was a debatable quality in hair.
“I like blonde hair better. Julie has blonde hair, and we’re going to get married.” As lovely as his classmate is, no invitations or ballrooms had been reserved yet for the lucky couple.
“Well, Julie is lovely, but she’s your girl. Hannah has dark, curly hair, and she isn’t even my girl…yet, but I sure like her hair. I like her eyes too. Green with brown speckles…I think.”
“If shes not your girl, why are you going to dinner, you two?” A fair question indeed. Half the week I had been asking myself the same thing. Why would she go out with me?
“Because I asked real nicely.”
“Did you say ‘please’?” Another fair question. Maybe I should take Isaac with me on the date.
“Well…no actually, but I-“
“You should always say please!” Isaac continued with chastising subtlety.
“Well,” I continued, “I did ask her like this,…<ahem> HEY LADY, WANNA DINNER WITH ME?”
This got Isaac giggling, which put him at ease, as well as me. I just needed him to be in a decent mood by the time the sitter arrived. He was often not so willing to let me leave, date or not.
“That’s not very nice!”
“But it worked. And now, we’re going to dinner together.”
“Can I come?” This pained me twice over. I hated his sadness of being without me for an evening because it made me sadder than him. I also imagined his type of questioning between the wine and the appetizers. “Is your hair always curly?” “Can you be blonde, like Julie?” “Did you dinner with a different guy before my daddy?”
“Sorry, Mr. Buddy. This is a grown-ups dinner. We’re going to be up late. Besides, Colleen is coming over and she’s your favorite sitter, right?”
“Not anymore. She doesn’t like video games like I do. She’s really bad at them.”
“Then you need to teach her how to be better at them. Anyway, this is my first dinner with Hannah and I need to be able to concentrate on what she has to say so I can get to know her. If I’m reading the kids menu to you and taking you to the potty forty-seven times, I’ll never get to know her.”
He thought about this for a second as I continued to get dressed. I thought maybe my shirt selection would distract him from being turned down as a third wheel. Instead, he made a sharp left turn into “I miss mommy.”
“I’m sorry bud. I miss her too. I really, really do.”
“Is Hannah going to be my new mommy?”
That did it. I was ready to forfeit right then and there, once I remove the shiv from my chest, compliments of my son’s broken heart. I leaned down to answer him face to face, and heart to heart.
“Mr. Bud, mommy will always be your mommy. I hope you never let go of that. She may not be here, but you have a mommy and she still loves you very much.”
“Even though shes not here anymore?” Please, God, no tears from me.
Leeza died when Isaac was just a year and a half old. Fastest breast cancer her doc has ever seen. Our seven year love story flushed away by some bad cells that were hungry and friggin’ evil.
“You still have good memories of her? Her face? Her smile? Her songs?”
“Yes”, he mumbled. As hard as it’s been to move on for me, its been exponentially harder for Mr. Bud. We’ve had mommy memory sessions at least once a week to keep her alive in his mind and his heart. Seems to be helping with the day-to-day activities. Totally sucks for me though.
“Sometimes, memories are the worst form of torture” I remember saying to the family therapist a month after her death. He thought Isaac needed the memories though more than me to fill the void of a parents death. It didn’t hurt as much anymore to play the games with him, but still sucked.
As Colleen entered the front door, announcing her arrival, I sent Isaac downstairs to greet her as I finished getting dressed. Once downstairs, I jumped into the sitter ritual – the usual spiel of “Heres my number, heres where I’ll be, I’ll be home by 11:00, two cookies only with milk during the movie, blah blah blah.” She’s heard it enough times, but it was good for Isaac to know that the rules haven’t changed in the last fifteen months.
“Ok, Mr. Bud. I’m off like a dirty sock.”
“That’s gross. You’re wearing a dirty sock to dinner?”
“You think Hannah won’t like it? It smells like last month.”
“No daddeeeeeee” Isaac rebuffed swinging his head around.
“OK then, clean socks it is for Miss Hannah. I love you little dude.”
“Love you big duuuuuuuude.”
Making my escape to the sounds of Isaac and Colleen singing something, I blew out a deep exhale as I walked to the car. When is it supposed to get easier?
© 2017, Jay Heltzer. All rights reserved.
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