The Aftermath Part 1
The Aftermath Part 1
“Mom?” I repeated, in disbelief. This had to be the twilight zone, nothing is real about this. I stared back into the face of the woman I saw everyday for fifteen years, looking back at me. My head was so dizzy. I heard a small scream-like a cry erupt from Kennedey. My heart thumped against the walls of my chest. My breaths started to come in short rapid pants; my forehead perspired.
Apollonia stood there with an air of confidence. There was a questioning look in her eyes as they searched my face. Mom didn’t say anything and she didn’t blink. All of a sudden she glanced over my shoulder. “Hello, Kennedey,” came the words from her mouth in the same near monotone voice she used to greet me, only moments earlier. That’s when I heard it, before I couldn’t be too sure. My mother’s accent, the one we heard time and time again calling our names. Put me in a room with hundreds of West Indians and I can always pick out the Trinis.
My stomach lurched all of a sudden into my throat; I’m scared. Not scared like the night I was abused, not even like when I heard of my father’s heart attack; I’m scared out of fear of the unknown. I couldn’t comprehend anything; I didn’t know anything. Is this all a bad dream? Would I wake up? Is Apollonia really in front of me? Am I losing it?
I took a few steps backward and fell down hard. I tried pushing myself away using my legs and feet. My heels and nails dug into the hardwood, while I desperately scratched and pushed myself away from her.
Somewhere in my head I heard Jaylen rushing over to me. “Whoa,” he gasped, helping me up from the floor. I balanced myself against him from falling again. Jaylen’s grip around my arm was tight as he tried to process what’s going on in front of us.
The silence in the room was deafening. Finally, Apollonia spoke. “May I come in?” she asked. Again, silence. Briefly hesitating, my mother stepped inside my house. My house, my mother is in my house, I repeated in my head. This is crazy. I balled my fists so tight, until my fingernails were stabbing into my flesh. This isn’t a dream. I couldn’t click my heels three times and wake up in my bed.
The next few moments seemed to by in slow motion. I didn’t get the sense I ‘m standing here. I looked over my shoulder at Kennedey, she was visibly shaking; small rumbles came from her half opened mouth; truly terrified. She reminded me of the times we’d watched a scary movie and she sat up half the night tucked under the covers, unable to fall asleep, scared of the Boogie Man and creatures that lurked just outside our door. Now, Kennedey had a real reason to be afraid.
Mom appeared oddly calm, but her face looked sympathetic and her eyes seemed to be pleading as they switched back and forth between my sister and I. She opened her mouth, closed it, then opened it back up again. “I, I know this is a shock. I wanted to see you. I came because I needed to see you” stammered Mom, speaking directly to us.
Somewhere inside of me, I knew this day would come. I knew I would see my mother again. After playing several scenarios of meeting her again throughout my time in college, I never knew for sure what I’d say to her. All I could guarantee was that our reunion wouldn’t be any joyous occasion. This woman nearly screwed me up beyond repair. I don’t even think I’d be alive, if it weren’t for my father ringing me in. Oh my God, my father. Mom is in Isla Paradiso and Daddy doesn’t know…
Every part of me began to tingle, but not in a good way. My blood boiled, I was hot all over. Twenty-eight words, twenty-eight words have come from her mouth since she showed up on my doorstep. How dare she? I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t find my voice. I demanded to know what right she had to come to my home and speak to me and my sister? For the fifteen years I lived with my mother, she never once wanted to talk to me or go out of her way to see me.
Finally, out of nowhere, my voice came back. But the first sounds out of my mouth weren’t words, but a scream. A very loud scream that came from beyond the deepest part of my soul. I can’t quite describe every emotion I felt flush through my body. I broke free from Jaylen’s grasp. I couldn’t control myself; there’s another force controlling my senses as images from my life quickly flooded my mind.
So many different bad memories, thoughts, feelings, and emotions from my cradle until now took over. It isn’t just the present Reagan speaking. It’s two year old Reagan, who begged for attention from her mama; eight year old Reagan, who purposely got dirty playing outside, just so her mama could bathe and wash her hair. It’s twelve year old Reagan, who came on her first period in school. She had to walk around with a jacket tied around her waist, so people wouldn’t notice the huge blood stain on her jeans. The girl who had to go to the nurse’s office whenever she menstruated to get those cheap pads without the wings. Forever afraid to go to her own mother to ask her to buy the good kind by Always. It’s the girl that, when she ran out of the cheap school pads, she snuck her mom’s tampons, but it hurt too bad when she tried to use them, because she was still a virgin. She rolled up toilet paper and put it in between her legs, until she got to school. Maybe one of her friends had a pad in their locker, if not, it was back to using the school’s.
Yes, it took six months before her mom found out about her cycle. She hid her stained panties from you because she washed them out herself, just like those sex ed/reproduction videos taught her. The ones you left to be her only education on puberty and sex two years prior as a fifth grader. Twelve year old Reagan’s daddy tried to tell her in so many ways to not let boys touch her and why sex was bad at too early of an age. Unfortunately, it wasn’t like he could tell her anything about the hormonal changes she went through or what growing up into a woman felt like. You finally found out your oldest daughter had the capability to make babies of her own, when she unknowingly bled on her bed sheets. You were doing laundry and saw the stain. You didn’t talk to her about her period. Your only form of acknowledgment, was buying her generic pads. They weren’t Always, but at least they had wings, I’ll give you that much. They weren’t as bad as the dollar store brand or the crappy bulky ones in the nurse’s office, but they did the job for four days every month.
Do you remember me, Mom? The fifteen year old, Reagan who woke up to witness her father, completely broken on a Sunday morning, telling us you’d left and weren’t coming back? What about me, college girl, Reagan? Sure I got into a good enough school, but I didn’t take anything from my education. I spent a good four years, getting drunk, partying, and sexing my football player boyfriend (guess I’m just like you, Mom). The other part of my college experience, you know the academic part, I spent getting the long string of guys who wanted to date me and girls eager to be my friend, going to class for me or slipping me their notes from exams. Don’t me wrong, I went to class on occasion; I only did enough to get by. Why make the effort when I could be just like you and have other people do everything for me? The bitch apple doesn’t fall far from the bitch tree.
How about post college model, Reagan? The one who pursued every kind of luxury that evaded her in the past. That brand new celebrity Reagan was probably the most fucked up of all. She sold her soul to a man simply because of his fame and bank account. She relied on her looks to get what she wanted and allowed some fuck boy to control her and degrade her for a year. Even though that Reagan knew her boyfriend treated her like crap and constantly mentally and verbally abused her, she took him back after he cheated on her. That lifestyle became a drug and she was a fiend. She ignored the signs of an abuser and didn’t see the light until one night he hit her. Given the chance, had that Reagan not escaped, he surely would’ve beat the shit out of her, maybe even worse.
How about the empty shell of a person Reagan became after getting abused and nearly losing her father? The one who hated herself even more because she took the blame for that. What about me, Mom? The woman I am now, but not so long ago, I nearly destroyed this possibility. Me, when I had the chance at real love, I was so screwed up and closed off, I nearly lost the man of my dreams. Fortunately, he loved me too much to give up on me. He became my strength and my rock until I could be strong enough for myself. Yes, Mom, it’s all of us. It’s every last part of me that never healed. It’s the part of me that occasionally doubts my abilities as a mother. Hoping and wishing I don’t screw my child up, the way you did yours. If you think it’s only the many faces of Reagan you must confront, no, you’re not off the hook yet, as I know there are different Kennedeys looking for answers too.
Kennedey and Jaylen were startled by the blood curdling, bone chilling eruption that came from within my bowels. Here I am, standing at the edge with nothing stopping me from plunging forth. “How dare you, come into my home? Why are you here? What do you want?” I screeched with such intense agony, I surprised myself. “Reagan, please…” Mom began to say, before I shut her down. I clenched my jaw and bit down on my tongue so hard, I tasted blood. Never had I looked upon anyone and felt such an emotional response. I’ve never felt this hurt, betrayed, and unloved then I did right now. Apollonia’s being here, didn’t tell me that she loved me, it only reminded me that she left. Every single day for fifteen years, she chipped away at my heart, until that Sunday morning she reached inside my chest and ripped it out and tossed it away like trash.
I took a few steps closer to her, my arms and hands wildly waving in front of my face. No, I’m not scared anymore. Now I had the chance to finally confront Apollonia. She’s not going to shut me up. Her ruthless mouth and cold clap back will not bring me down. She won’t win, no, not this time.
“Shut up! You’re not allowed to say anything! How in the hell did you find me? Are you delusional enough to think it’s okay for you to be in my home? Where in the hell have you been for over ten years? Where did you come from? Answer me!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. I didn’t pay attention to Jaylen’s pleas for me to calm down or Kennedey hysterically screaming and crying.
I wanted to hit her, I actually wanted to connect the back of my hand to my own mother’s face. I continued lounging forth as my husband grabbed at my arm to keep me from reaching her.
Mom anxiously ran perfectly manicured fingers through her jet black locks. Nervously, she looked to me and Kennedey. The expression on her face, was unrecognizable. To a normal person, it would look like pleading, but my mother isn’t a normal person to me. Never had I found her in a moment of weakness or vulnerability. Never had I seen her look like she needed someone before. Her deep green eyes begged for mercy, but I couldn’t give it to her. At least, not in this moment.
“Just calm down, Reagan, please,” pleaded Mom. “No, I will not calm down! Do you have any idea what you’ve put me through? What you put all of us through? I’m sitting in my home on a Sunday evening with my husband and sister, the next thing I know, the deadbeat mother, I haven’t seen in over ten years shows up at my door. Ten years, you’ve been gone, ten years we didn’t know for sure if you were dead or alive. Maybe I wanted to believe you were alive all these years because at least there would be a possibility I’d see you again, but now as I look at you, I can’t fathom what kind of pathetic low excuse of human filth can leave her own kids. Now I’m thinking, maybe it’d be better for everyone if you were dead!” I screamed. “Reagan, baby, please, don’t. Relax, baby, relax,” urged Jaylen.
Apollonia’s shoulders shrank and she dropped her arms down at her sides. She briefly closed her eyes. Tears began to well in her eyes and her lips started to tremble. “R-Reagan, Kennedey, please, I only wanted to see you,” replied Mom, tripping over her words. I couldn’t believe what I saw next. An actual single tear drop cascaded down her cheek. If I had not witnessed it for myself, I would never think it could be true. Mom showing weakness and shedding a tear? Those were two things I didn’t know were humanly possible. I wasn’t buying it, though. I can’t be sympathetic, because I don’t believe her.
“Is that a tear? Do you have the nerve to stand there and cry? You don’t get to cry!” I shouted. Mom placed one hand over her so-called heart and feverishly scratched at her forehead. When she lifted her head back up, she looked over at Kennedey.
“Please, Kennedey. You and your sister, I just wanted to see my girls so bad,” she cried, breathing heavily.
“Don’t you talk to her! You don’t have the right! You see what you’ve done? Kennedey is like that because of you, Mom! You!” I shouted in anger. Kennedey backed away, unable to look upon our mother with her own two eyes. She’s completely broken and I didn’t know how to fix it. All I knew is that any bully that picked on my sister, I annihilated. Well, Mom was the biggest bully of all. Not just to Kennedey, but to me. How do I fight her? How do I make it so that she never hurts either one of us again?
“Listen to me! I came because, not one day in the last ten years, I haven’t thought of you girls. I look at your baby pictures all the time. I see you online, I read everything about you, and it killed me that I could never get to you. Trust me, I know I’m the last person you want to see right now, but I’ve gone through so much; I couldn’t continue living if I didn’t see you and Kennedey. I had to see you again. I saw pictures of the baby online and I just wanted to see my first grandbaby; I only wanted to see her. I wanted Marseille to know about me,” explained Mom. That was it.
“Unbelievable. Did you really think I would ever let you meet my baby? Are you that damn mental to ever believe my child would have a relationship with you? Get this clear, Mom, you are nothing to my child! And you are nothing to me! You treated me and Kennedey like shit and my father ten times worse. Now, you have the balls to come to my home and demand a relationship with my daughter, with me? I’ve had it. Get this woman the hell out of my house, Jay, now!” I demanded.
Throughout the midst of the chaos, I’d forgotten Marseille was near the back of the house in the den. I heard her screaming cries on the baby monitor. Oh my God, my baby. When I thought about what Mom may do my child, I panicked. She said she wanted the chance to meet Marseille. I will not take the chance of my mother screwing my daughter up too. Besides, I didn’t know what kind of life Mom lead now. For all I know, she might want to take my child. As far as I’m concerned, she’s just another stranger.
Apollonia stepped closer. “I know you’re angry. You have the right to be. I know I screwed up. I’m so sorry to both of you, you must believe me! I’ve never been the kind of person to ask for anything, Reagan, please let me meet my grandbaby. Let me try to explain myself to you and your sister!” pleaded Mom. I shook my head very fast. “No, no, never! Jaylen, get her out. Leave now! Don’t you ever come back here to my house again, do you hear me? I never want to see you again, Mom! Don’t ever come back!” I screeched.
My tears finally spilled over, hot burning tears. I made a sharp turn on my heel and ran to see about my baby with Kennedey close on my heels. I didn’t care what Mom did or where she went. I heard Apollonia calling our names, asking us to wait. Jaylen wasn’t sure of what to do. He’s never faced a situation like this before.
Mom and Jaylen made eye contact for the first time since she arrived. For the first time in her life, Mom couldn’t manipulate someone into getting what she wanted. Jaylen remained quiet, perhaps waiting for Apollonia to say something, but didn’t. Defeated, Mom reluctantly turned around and walked through the door.
I scooped Marseille into my arms and tried comforting her. “Shhhh, it’s okay, Mommy’s here, Marsy, Mommy’s here,” I softly whispered. Kennedey paced back and forth, frantically crying. She’s never been this upset.
Kennedey needed to calm down and snap out of it. I’m worried about her, but I need to tend to Marseille right now. “Oh my God, oh my God! Reagan, what are we going to do?” asked Kennedey, nervously. Despite what she may think, even I didn’t know all the answers. All I want to do, is make sure my child is okay. It’s the most important duty I’ll ever have. By this time, Marseille was screaming at the top of her little lungs. I hurt me to see her this upset. She’s never heard yelling before, so this was definitely a shock to her.
“Did you hear me? Reagan, what are we going to do?” cried Kennedey. She seemed to have gained her senses back now that Mom was out of the house. She was unable to say or do anything, just moments earlier. I didn’t respond, I only kept thinking I had to calm my daughter. I manically paced back and forth, trying to soothe Marseille, but she only kept on crying. She’s freaking out because I’m freaking out.
Jaylen ran into the room, his face full of worry. “Damn, are you both alright?” he asked, anxiously. “Is she gone, Jay? Is that woman out of my house?” I questioned. “Yes, baby, she’s gone. Come here,” replied Jay. He came over to me, attempting to put his arms around me. I moved out of the way and shook my head.
“No, Jay. Look here, make sure all the doors and windows in the house are locked and the alarm is on,” I ordered. “They’re locked, why? What’s wrong?” asked Jaylen, confused. “What do you mean ‘what’s wrong’? The mother I haven’t seen in over ten years knows where I live and came to my house. Have you forgotten that fast?” I snapped. Getting mad at my husband, wasn’t my intention, but didn’t he know a mother showing up out of the blue demanding to see her children isn’t exactly normal? None of us knew Mom’s true intentions
Jaylen let out a heavy sigh. “Reagan, will you please talk to me? Why are you asking about the alarms and everything?” he asked. “Because, neither one of us know what that woman is capable of! I’m already damaged; I’ll be damned if she does that Marseille! Aren’t you concerned about your daughter? If she comes back, don’t ever let that woman in the house!” I shouted.
“Baby, you need to calm down, alright? None of us can be sure of what she really wanted. Here, give me the baby. You have to chill, Reagan; everything’s going to be fine. I called your dad and left him a message that he needed to get over here right away,” Jaylen informed us. I shook my head. I hadn’t even thought about what Daddy would do once he found out Mom paid us a visit. Jaylen motioned for me to give him the baby. I backed away from him. “No, she’s fine,” I said. Jaylen stood back, as if surrendering. He knew not to mess with a mama lioness and her cub. Yes, Jay is Marseille’s father, but he knew I wasn’t giving her up. She needed me, I had to protect her.
“Daddy didn’t answer his phone, Jay? What did your message say? Did you tell him our mom was here?” asked Kennedey, freaking all over again. Jaylen rubbed at his beard. “No, no. I didn’t want to say that in a message,” he replied. “Well, what then? Reagan, what are we going to do?” wondered Kennedey. Her eyes darted back and forth. She nervously twisted her hands, waiting for me to give her the answer.
“Why do you keep asking me what are we going to do? I don’t know, okay? This is just as crazy for me as it is for you. My daughter needs me, she’s my top priority! You have a brain; you’re grown. Why must I have all the answers?” I shouted.
“Don’t yell at me, Reagan! I don’t know anything either. And Jay is right, we’re unsure of what she wants. I doubt Mom came back to hurt Marseille or anything! I don’t think Mom wants to do anything to her!” cried Kennedey. “How do you know? Do you know the person Mom is right now any better than I do? No, you don’t. When you have a kid someday, then you can advise me on mine,” I replied. Besides, the kind of hurt I’m referring to is psychological, not physical. Mom never wanted her own babies, now she wants to be bothered with mine? She’s hurt me so much; I can’t let her do that to Marseille.
“Look, everyone just calm down. There’s a lot we don’t know right now…” said Jaylen, before getting cut off by the repeated sounds of the doorbell. “That’s probably Daddy,” said Kennedey, seemingly relieved at the thought of our father coming to the rescue. “Make sure its him before you open that door. My mother could still be out there!” I called after Jay, as he rushed out of the den.
Daddy arrived within minutes of receiving Jay’s voice mail. His message, simply told him that he needed to get over here right away; he didn’t know what was going on.. “What’s the problem? What’s going on? Is everyone okay?” Dad asked Jaylen after he let him in. Nodding his head very fast, Jaylen informed Daddy that we were all physically okay. “Yeah, yeah. Reagan and Kennedey are in the back with the baby. They’re both really upset. I don’t even know if I should be the one telling you this, but my wife and her sister are seriously flipping out. I was unsure of what to do, so I called you,” replied Jaylen, anxiously.
“Tell me what it is, Jay!” demanded Dad. Jaylen took a deep breath. Looking in dead in the eyes, he told my father the last thing he expected to hear. “Ray, Reagan and Kennedey’s mother, I mean your wife showed up on our front door tonight.” Daddy stood there blinking at Jaylen, as if he didn’t hear what he said. The color from Daddy’s face drained and his jaw dropped. “What? You’re telling me you saw Apollonia?” questioned Dad, unsure of the mind-blowing information Jaylen had just laid upon him. “Yes, sir,” answered Jaylen, solemnly. Daddy quickly scoured the foyer and living room. “When was this? She’s gone?” asked Dad. Once again, Jaylen nodded his head.
Daddy pushed past Jaylen, heading straight for the den. “Daddy!” Kennedey cried, rushing to him as soon as he and Jaylen came into the room. He stared at the both of us. His face and eyes were filled with tension and worry. Before my father could say anything, I put Marseille down in her bassinet. She’d just stopped crying a few minutes ago and I’m afraid she would start back up. Bursting into tears, I ran into the safety of my father’s arms. I buried my head deep in his chest; sobbing as hard as I did when I was a little girl and had skinned my knee.
Daddy squeezed Kennedey and I very hard, releasing one for the other, and planting kisses on our forehead. “Reagan, Kennedey, are you girls alright? What happened? You heard the doorbell, opened the door and your mother was just standing there?” asked Dad, incredulous.
“Yes! We were both by the door. Mom stood right there, Daddy,” recalled Kennedey, tearfully. “Why would she do that? How can Mom show up out of nowhere?” I fretted. “I don’t know. I’m trying to register everything. The last time I saw your mother, we were in our bedroom arguing. Did she say anything? Did you talk to her?” asked Daddy. “I talked to her. She claimed she wanted to see us and meet Marseille. She’s been stalking my family online!” I cried.
Marseille began making whimpering sounds; clearly agitated by all the crying and shouting going on around her. Before I could turn to get her, Jay walked over to Marseille and picked her up. “I’m going to take her into the other room,” said Jaylen. “No! Leave her in here with me!” I exclaimed. “Reagan, she’s upset. I’ll be with her, okay?” assured Jaylen. I felt antsy at the thought of Marseille not being in my eyesight. I’m not sure why I’m so afraid; I only wanted my baby with me. “Just give her a bottle and put her back to sleep. Don’t put her in the nursery, Jay” I commanded. Jaylen didn’t respond. My eyes followed them as they made their way out the room.
“Marseille will be alright, Reagan. She doesn’t need to be around all of this,” said Dad. We were all silent for a moment. The faint sound of the ocean was the only thing I could hear. Daddy gave our hands a gentle squeeze. He looked up at us with tears in his eyes. “Oh, my babies. I’m so sorry,” said Dad. “Why are you sorry, Daddy?” asked Kennedey. Daddy shook his head, biting his lip. “Just because of everything you girls have gone through, especially these last ten years. This is all my fault,” sighed Dad. He took his hand to wipe away the tears from his eyes. I hated seeing my father in pain, I absolutely hated it.
“Maybe if I listened to your mother about what she wanted more, none of this would’ve happened. It hurts as a man because I couldn’t give my wife everything she wanted. I couldn’t do that for you girls, either. I could never make her happy. I’ve failed you, I’ve failed you as a father. Reagan and Kennedey, baby, I’m sorry I didn’t so everything I should’ve. You girls were without your mother for the last ten years and it’s all my fault,” sighed Daddy, tearfully. “You didn’t fail us, Daddy. Don’t say things like that,” objected Kennedey. I slowly shook my head.
“Please, Daddy, don’t cry. I don’t like to see you cry. None of this is your fault. You didn’t make her leave, she wanted to go! You’re the best father anyone could have. Mom was never happy. You couldn’t make her happy, neither could me or Kennedey,” I proclaimed. “I’m unsure of a lot of things, but I don’t want you girls to think that you’re the cause of your mother’s unhappiness. I know this is very hard for the both of you,” replied Dad. The truth of the matter is, none of us knew why Mom was so unhappy, why she left, and why she came back. All of us were struggling emotionally over the events from tonight. Daddy wasn’t clear on what to do, neither was I, neither was Kennedey.
This is the day, the day of my mother’s arrival. We knew we’d be having this conversation someday, but none of us truly fathomed what it would be like.
We stood there, quiet. All dealing with our own individual memories and feelings about Mom. You wouldn’t think that one person could affect so many people. Our upbringing shaped us into the women we are today. All the traumas we dealt with manifested in negative ways. Every internal battle turned outwardly touched the lives of the people we know and care about. I looked up, meeting Kennedey’s gaze. Her eyes were red and swollen.
We reached out, hugging each other very tightly. Then Daddy wrapped his arms around us. One by one, we each started to cry. No one spoke a word. Daddy, Kennedey, and I held one another; letting twenty-five plus years of hurt and anger out. I grieved for my childhood and longing for a mother who acted like a mom. Apollonia may have chosen to seek us out to become a part of our lives, but she could never erase the past and what she did. There are memories I wish I could block out, I remember every single detail about the day my mom left me and I’ll remember every single detail about the day she came back.
Marseille was sound asleep in her crib we had in our bedroom. It relieved me once I saw that she was okay. Jaylen wanted to know if I needed anything from him. “No, I’m not sure of what I need right now. I’m in shock. There’s about a million emotions flowing through my body. One minute I’m angry, the next I’m sad and hurt,” I said. “I really wish you all didn’t have to go through this, baby. Do you think what she said is true?” asked Jaylen. “What do you mean?” I asked. “When she said she only wanted to see you your sister and to meet the baby,” replied Jaylen. I shrugged. “I don’t know, Jay. Who knows what my mom really wants. I have no clue what her life is like now, or who she is. There were things I noticed about her, I’d never seen before. It’s something about her demeanor that almost made her seem like a different person,” I observed.
Jaylen remained quiet and listened as I told him what my father had to say. Daddy and Kennedey were still downstairs. As far as I knew, they were sleeping over, but I didn’t think anyone would be getting much sleep tonight with the exception of Marseille. Jaylen chose to stay upstairs for a while and give us some space. I remarked that he was a part of this family, but Jay knew Kennedey is taking all of this very hard; and he didn’t want to encroach on something so difficult and private for her. Yes, they and Jay are close, but she rarely opens up to anyone other than Daddy and me about Mom.
“Maybe there is something I need from you; just hold me,” I said. “This is crazy, boo. I know it’s hard for you. I love you so much, Reagan,” whispered Jaylen, pulling pulled me into his arms. He held me like there’s no tomorrow and today is all we had.
My head is still in a fog. Part of me wondered when, not if Mom would make contact again. Where is she staying? How did she get here? Mom rarely drove while I was growing up. She came out of nowhere. These are the kind of questions that swam around in my head; along with several interactions I had with her. I slipped into my pajamas before joining Daddy and Kennedey on the sofa in the den. We didn’t discuss everything about our experiences with Apollonia. We wondered to ourselves what made her reach out to us after all these years? Mom was dressed very well. It didn’t appear that she needed money or was down and in out. I felt weird for thinking this, but Mom looked so good, physically at least. Her looks hadn’t faded, she’s as beautiful as always.
I didn’t like that all these things I looked up to Mom for as a little girl, were popping into my mind. She had nice clothes, she was very pretty, and she had this allure about her that people gravitated to. I couldn’t figure out why because Mom wasn’t the friendliest person. People can say the same about the old me too, I suppose, but I’m more sociable than she is. Mom occasionally went places with a couple of people she knew in Miami, but I believe she mostly preferred to be alone.
Daddy and Kennedey started to doze off a little. I tried closing my eyes, but my mind continued to race. I felt tired, but I wasn’t sleepy. Jaylen walked into the deny, startling me. “Hey, baby. Why don’t you come to bed and try to get some sleep?” he whispered. I nodded my head and Jaylen pulled me up from the sofa.
I checked on Marseille once again before I laid down. Jay told me, she had only woken up once for a bottle and diaper change. At least someone is getting good sleep in this house. As much as I tried to relax my mind and will myself into sleeping, I couldn’t disquiet the thoughts in my head. I saw Apollonia’s face over and over at the front door. I kept pinching myself to make sure this wasn’t merely a dream. I attempted to focus on my breathing, but the sound of Jay’s light snoring distracted me. Finally, I pulled the covers back and got up from the bed. This is useless; there is no way, I’m going to sleep.
I headed back down the stairs toward the kitchen. Marseille will wake up in a little while and she’ll want to eat. I stood in the middle of the kitchen, staring at the container of formula on the counter. I feel like I’m on the verge of exploding right now. I had an urge to hit something; break something. I wanted to bash every dish in the cupboard; throw them all to the floor into hundreds of pieces.
As furious as I am, a few good memories with Mom popped into my head. The times we danced together, when she combed my hair, and when I watched her baking sugar cake in the kitchen. I wanted to push those memories out. They left me confused because a part of me wanted to hate her so much. At the same time, all I want to do is run into her arms and bury my head in her bosom. I screamed and cried; my body began shaking uncontrollably.
I fell to the floor, holding my face in my hands. I want to be a little girl again, if only for a bit. “I just want my mommy,” I wept. Why do I have to love her? Why can’t I forget about her? “Mama! Mama, I’m so mad at you! I hate you, but I love you. Why did you leave me? You left me, you left me all alone!” I cried, sobbing violently. I hate this, I hate all of this. I hate that you have this power over me, Mama. You left for ten years and went on with your life, while we were stuck to pick up the pieces. Now you’re back and you still control my heart; you own me in that way!
I tried for years to break free from you, Mama. I desperately prayed for it not to hurt so much. You left me long before you walked out the house. How could you do that, Mama? How could you leave me all alone in the world? I had Daddy and Kennedey, but I needed you then; and I hate that I need you now. There, in the kitchen, by the dawn’s early light, I let it all go; I let myself go. I cried out from years of agony and shame.
All these years you’ve haunted me. All these years I wanted you to act like a mom. I yearned for you to tell me you loved me. The times I wished, hoped, and prayed that a picture I colored, a necklace I made in art class, or a cake I baked in my E-Z Bake oven would win you over. Somehow, one of those gestures would make you see how much you really loved me and would make you want to be my mommy. I didn’t want a lot, Mama; I only wanted you. I still want you and I hate that I do. I’m angry with you, because I’ve never been able to fully move on. I love my child and husband more than anything in this world, but you’re the last piece of the puzzle. You’re the only person who can set me completely free.
I wiped away the last tears from my eyes. My face is a complete mess, between a running nose and watery eyes. I deeply sighed and carefully stood up. My legs and knees felt very weak. I’d lost the feeling in them, from sitting so long. I went to use the bathroom to wash my face.
I finished washing my face and looked in the mirror. It’s the first time I’d seen my face in I don’t know how many hours. I looked tired, very tired. I peered into my own eyes, asking how did everything happen like this? I slowly shook my head, unable to answer my own question. I look so much like her; so much like Apollonia. I thought about that Scripture that goes: This one is like a man (in my case a woman) looking at her natural face in a mirror, for she looks at herself, and off she goes and immediately forgets what sort of woman she is.”
I’ve come such a long way since the last time I repeated that passage to myself. I’m much more assured of myself and I love me. I’d fallen in love with the best man on this earth and given birth to the greatest little person I’ve ever known. I’m so honored to know my daughter. Being a mother has brought me unspeakable joy. That fact alone, proves I didn’t turn out like my mother. I know happiness, unlike Mom.
It’s sad and I kind of feel sorry about the fact Apollonia never felt the true happiness that only being a mommy can bring. Even still, all of us are paying for the remnants of destruction she left behind. I’m not completely healed, at least I know who I am, but does she? I’m hurt, I’m sad; I’m angry; and I’m confused. I’m all of these things. I’m familiar with every last emotion sweeping through my body. I know exactly why I feel the way I do. I know it’s my mom, I know it’s my childhood. There’s isn’t anything anyone can tell me about how I feel, yet I don’t have a clue on how to fix it; how to not be hurt and get out of this place.
Damn, it went worse than I thought. I knew once I rang that doorbell, there was no going back. Reagan was so angry and Kennedey, hysterical. Reagan has many of my ways and I expected her to be angry, only it was worse. Despite the cold reception I’d received, I was happy to see them. I thought about this day for such a long time. Everything happened so fast. One moment I was in Reagan’s doorway than another she was yelling at me to leave. I wished I’d gotten the chance to talk to them more than I did.
Even through all the anger, I could see the hurt I’ve caused for both of my daughters. The last thing I remembered was Reagan’s husband, Jaylen looking at me before I rushed out their house and back to my rental car. Upset, I drove around in circles for two hours before I made it back to the hotel. How stupid could you possibly be, Apollonia? Was it a mistake to go there tonight? What did I expect to happen? I badly wanted to talk to Reagan and Kennedey. I heard the baby crying from another room; I wished I could’ve held her.
Reagan’s screams kept echoing in my head: Mom, you are nothing to my child! And you are nothing to me!..Maybe it’d be better for everyone if you were dead!’ I furiously wiped the tears from my eyes. I couldn’t do anything to stop this damn crying! Reagan was completely unwilling to talk to me, to hear me out. She’s as stubborn as I am. I hate that she’s so bitter because of me. Kennedey couldn’t look at me. I’ve made such a mess of everything. There’s no one to blame but myself, but I won’t give up. I didn’t come here to not get my children back. I’ll stay as long as it takes; I’ll do whatever I have to.
Reagan and Kennedey looked so beautiful. I didn’t want my initial contact with them to be through a letter, email, or a phone call. I had to face them in person. I wanted to look at them and see their reaction when they saw me for the first time in all these years. I had to deal with the consequences of my actions. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would. I’d do so many things differently, but I can’t.
I wanted to tell Reagan and Kennedey everything that’s gone on in my life since I left Miami. They probably believe they’re the reason for my unhappiness and why I left. I wanted them to know about my depression and how hard I dealt with it over the years and didn’t get help until last year. I’m managing my mood disorder, anxiety, and anger issues better than ever. I’m sad much of the time because I missed my children, but I’m in a better place; I’m not self-destructive any longer. I desire to live a good life with my children and grandbaby. I don’t need the fame and riches I longed for when I was younger.
I’ve often wondered what kind of women Reagan and Kennedey had grown up to be. After tonight, I clearly can see the effect my leaving had on them. Their hearts are broken and I’m the cause of that. Of course I’m hurt by Reagan’s rejection and denying me to see the baby, but I understand why. Kennedey’s never liked confrontation and she doesn’t deal with personal conflict very well. I hurt my family, deeply; and I’m afraid I’ll never be able to make it right.
I can imagine the shock Reagan, Kennedey, and by now I’m sure, Raymond are dealing with. I don’t plan on returning to New York without sitting down and explaining myself to my daughters. They deserved answers. I owed them everything, I owed them the world. I spent the next couple of days thinking of what my next move should be, as well as giving everyone a chance to calm down. Reagan told me not to come back, but there is no way I can turn my back on my children again. As much as her words hurt, I had to remind myself that she said them in anger. Given, the roles were reversed, I know I’d have the same reaction, probably worse.
Now that my girls have seen me, I thought about sending an email asking to talk talk to them. I tried to explain what led me to leaving and apologizing for not being there for them when they were growing up. I more I typed on my laptop, the more I knew it was a mistake.
I can’t do this in an email. I had to sit down and speak with them. I had to look Reagan and Kennedey eye and tell them that I loved them and I that I’m sorry. I didn’t come to Isla Paradiso for my husband, I have business with Raymond, but my girls are my top priority. I put him through a lot and I never truly gave my marriage a chance. Yes, I owed him an explanation, although I don’t believe everything bad in our marriage was my fault.
I needed the chance to explain myself to Reagan and Kennedey, but I couldn’t reach them on my own again. Raymond is the only person they’ll listen to. Contacting Raymond is something I must do if I want my children to speak with me. I couldn’t believe what I’m about to do, but I’m desperate.
Raymond has had the same cell phone number for over fifteen years. I know it like the back of my hand. I took out my phone and dialed 305-555-0102. My heart beat loudly, while I listened to the phone ring. Finally, my call went to voice mail. I thought about hanging up and redialing. I hesitated on what to say. I found my voice and simply stated that it was me calling and I asked him to come to my hotel. You wouldn’t think it’s been over ten years since I’ve spoken with Raymond by the casualness of my message, but how else could I say it? I didn’t expect a warm reception or for Raymond to do me any favors. I knew he would come, it was only a question of when?
I woke up, not completely aware of my surroundings. I wanted to say last night was a dream, but I felt the throbbing ache in the pit of my stomach and knew it was all too real. The last thing I remember is, falling asleep on the sofa with Daddy. I’m not sure if he stayed here in the den or went upstairs to one of the guest rooms. It’s already half past twelve. I slept, but I didn’t feel rested.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that my mother showed up at Reagan’s door last night. I’ve thought about when I would see Mom again over and over. Reagan told me once, when we were in college, that if she ever saw Mom again, she’d go off on her. Reagan was so angry, she wanted to curse, scream, and yell at her when she got the chance. Other times, Reagan claimed she was unsure of what her initial reaction would be once we saw our mother again. I’d say that Reagan reacted pretty much as I expected for her to.
There was yelling, screaming, and crying; I did most of the crying. I don’t really understand my reaction. I expected to be emotional in my mother’s presence, but I was completely paralyzed last night. I barely looked at Mom, even when she looked at me and spoke. I felt so scared. I’ve always been more sensitive when it came to my dealings with our mom than Reagan. That’s not to say, Reagan didn’t suffer growing up, but she seemed to recover more quickly after run-ins with Mom. We had our own way of dealing with things. Explode or implode, either or. Reagan tended to be the former and I the latter. I remember thinking about all the fights Mom and Daddy had when we were little. I hated the screaming and yelling with a passion. Mom went in on Daddy so bad, it scared me. Last night sort of reminded me of that.
Daddy, Reagan, and I sat up last night, asking why Mom cam back. I heard her tell Reagan that she wanted to see us and get the chance to meet the baby, but why now after all these years? Of course I wanted to see my mother again. Matter of fact, I prayed nearly everyday back in high school, that I’d see her sooner rather than later. I had this dream that she shows up to see me giving my speech as class valedictorian on graduation day. When she didn’t come, I told myself, maybe she’ll be there to see me getting my degree; only wishful thinking.
People have classified me as an overachiever all my life; and yes, I am. I was never as popular as Reagan and I didn’t know a lot about boys and fashion. I never believed I had much in common with my mother. In order to gain her approval and attention, I pushed myself to succeed in school. I went over and beyond what everyone expected from me. If Reagan made Mom a pair of earrings in art class, I had to make her a better pair, along with a matching necklace and bracelet. If Reagan drew a simple picture of our family playing in the sand, I had to paint all of South Beach, with added details like the hot dog stand, lifeguard tower, and other beach goers surrounding our little family picnic. More wishful thinking and fantasizing, because Mom never came with us on a picnic to the beach.
I heard voices coming from the living room. Reagan, Daddy, and Jaylen were standing around in the foyer fussing about what to do if Mom returns. I’m not in the mood to discuss anything relating to her with anyone right now. “I’m getting out of here,” I said to them. “What do you mean? You’re going home?” asked Reagan. “Yes. I need to be by myself,”I replied. “Kennedey, I don’t think now is the time for you to be all cooped up. We’re dealing with major family issues right now. The least you can do, is stay,” argued Reagan. “Don’t start with me, Reagan. I said I wanted to be alone and now I’m going to,” I said.
“Whatever. Its so typical that you became a hysterical mess, wanting me to baby you and make it all better, but now that I’m telling you we should be together, you want to run and hide,” accused Reagan. She’s pissing me off more by the second. “How am I running and hiding? Shoot, you act like I can only be at your house to deal with this. Newsflash, Reagan, she’s not only your mom. Just back up off me!” I hissed. “Look, just let her be, Reagan. Both of you have your ways of dealing with things. Kennedey, keep your phone on, baby girl,” Daddy spoke up. Reagan rolled her eyes. She needed to get off her high horse already.
Great, it’s starting to rain. I grabbed my sweater jacket and threw on my uggs before I left. I packed up Sammy and Tinky with me and we head home. I knew I’d be hearing it from Reagan later, but I’m not going to let her make me feel guilty. Reagan can be mad all she wants, she’s not the only one dealing with shit today.
I’m not going to let what Reagan said back at the house get to me. Damn! She acts as if everything is always about her. Being the huge drama queen that she is, I couldn’t take anymore. I know I was a complete basket-case last night. Now I needed solitude to hear myself think, let myself react in a way that I could comprehend what I’m feeling. Reagan accusing me of being hysterical and leaving it up to her to deal with Mom, pissed me off. I didn’t exactly choose to spazz out.
It had just started raining when I parked my Prius in my driveway and shut off the engine. Sammy and Tinky jumped out and ran toward the front door, eager to get inside . I sprung from the car and ran into the house as fast as I could; worried I’d lose it on the front lawn.
I walked over the sofa and slumped down to my knees. I cried for what seemed like the one hundredth time in less than twenty-four hours. I mourned for her, I mourned for my mom after she left. I mourned for her even before she walked out on us. Mom was my world, there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her, even as a kid. She was always the prettiest parent in my class, the prettiest of all her siblings. I’m just as confused as Reagan and Daddy about Mom coming back. I know Reagan is famous and it mustn’t have been very hard for her to track us down, but why in the manner she chose? Wouldn’t a letter be easiest at first before making face to face contact?
You would think that I’d have my reaction down to a science. Yes, different scenarios played over in my head. I tried to prepare myself for this, but all that planning went right out the window the minute I saw Mom. She looked so beautiful and regal, just as I’d remembered. I only caught a couple of short glimpses because I couldn’t bring myself to really look at her. I was too afraid to say anything, even when she spoke to me.
It all felt surreal in the moments leading up to answering the door. I clearly remember heading toward the den to check on the baby, but stopping to see who was at the door at that time of night. When Reagan opened the door and I saw Mom standing there, I came out of my skin. I would be less shocked if it were the President. Is she a figment of my imagination? I remembered thinking.
All those times of feeling awkward, self-doubt, and insecure came flooding back last night. I was on the verge of losing it when Daddy arrived; and I wasn’t safe until he got there. I knew Daddy didn’t have all the answers, but I needed him, badly. I needed him to tell us everything was going to be alright. Yes, this affected him in a profound way, but he’s the only one that could assure me that everything would be fine.
I went into my workroom and stood in front of my mother’s painting. I cried as if she were here; as if the painting were real. I felt so stupid, Mom was right there last night and I couldn’t muster up one thing to say to her. It seemed so much easier to confront her in my head. I knew exactly what I’d to say. She apologized for everything and I forgave her. At the end, all is forgotten and we lived happily ever after. This is no fairy tale, however. Mom and Daddy weren’t the queen and king, and I wasn’t a little princess. There wasn’t a prince coming to rescue me, no secret potion to erase all these wrongs, and no magic wand to make my dreams come true.
I outright confessed my hopes and fears to “Apollonia”. I wanted her to hear from me, all the things I wished I could’ve said over the years. Maybe in a way, I’m making up for being such a coward last night. I knew what I wanted to say, but my mind and mouth didn’t work right. I couldn’t put sentences together.
Mama, I can’t understand it sometimes, I can’t understand you. Why did you treat me the way you did? Don’t you know all I ever wanted to do is love you? That shouldn’t be so hard to believe, unless you think you’re incapable of being loved; but that’s not true, Mama; I love you, I do. I remember spreading my finger paint out on the floor as a kid, hoping you’d join me. Or maybe if you wanted, we could go to the park and feed the ducks. I don’t know if you ever saw me watching you, Mama. You were so distant; so sad. I tried drawing you pictures, to make you feel better, but you never responded with great interest. Some days you were mad at Reagan and I, although you mostly took your anger out on Daddy.
We begged you to read to us when Daddy was working his second night job. I wished you seemed like you wanted to be there with us. I checked out new books from the school library. Whenever I found one I especially liked, I offered to read it to you, so you wouldn’t have to be bothered with trying to read to us; but you always told me another time, Kennedey. Mama, you constantly put me off, but I never gave up hope that one day you’d say yes.
I know you didn’t get to realize your dreams. I didn’t truly understand how much that hurt you until I read Langston Hughes. Then I learned what it meant when a dream is deferred. I guess dancing was that for you and telling me you loved me is the dream I have for me. A dream deferred for twenty-something years. Now you’re back and I’m not sure if I should allow this to reignite my hope or if I should protect myself from further heartbreak. Mama, you have me so afraid, because I can’t trust that anything good will come true. It’s easier for me to live life with my defenses up and accept disappointment.
You used to tell us that, your Nani Giselle said when people show you who they are, believe them. Well, Mama you’ve showed me countless times over the years who you are. By your own Nani’s advice, I should believe you, but I held out hope that you’d prove me wrong. Maybe underneath it all, you’re the loving mother I prayed for and dreamed of. Unfortunately, we didn’t see anything other than what you allowed us to see. I lived with you for fourteen years, but it feels like we’re strangers sometimes. I don’t want much you know. Maybe being my mother is expecting too much. Nevertheless, I haven’t stopped loving you and I never stopped holding out hope. I prayed for you to come back and now I feel as lost as ever.
I continued to replay last night’s events over and over in my head. I was so forgone, I didn’t hear Micah come through the front door and into the workroom. “Kennedey? Baby, what’s the matter?” he asked. I jumped at the sound of his voice. “Micah, what are you doing here?” I asked. “I tried calling you last night and this morning, but didn’t get an answer. I left you a message, that I would come over once I finished up at the studio,” replied Micah, looking confused. I had no idea he called. I probably had several messages, but my phone died.
“Oh, my phone was off,” I said, rubbing my eyes. I pushed past Micah and went into the living room. Micah turned and followed me. “Are you crying? Kennedey, what’s going on? I’ve been calling you since last night, I don’t hear from you, and now you’re crying? Did something happen? You’re scaring me,” said Micah.
I know Micah’s concerned, but now wasn’t the time. “Look, there’s a lot going on. I just want to be alone right now,” I answered. “C’mon, Kennedey, don’t do this. Stop shutting me out. Why do you always do this?” demanded Micah. I started becoming very irritated. Having this conversation wasn’t on my list of things to do today.
“Micah, please; just go home, okay?” I ordered, holding my hand up. “No, I’m not going home; not until you tell me what’s going on. Now, obviously something happened last night. Are you going to tell me what it is? At least talk to me so we can figure this out,” said Micah. I’d had about up to hear. I didn’t want to rehash everything about the night before again. I didn’t want to remember how I felt when I saw my mother for the first time in ten years, and I didn’t want to think about how lonely and rejected she made me feel the day she left me and throughout my life.
“I can’t do this with you, Micah. Stop trying to be this Superman Negro Hero, trying to fix shit! You can’t fix this, you can’t fix me!” I snapped. Micah looked startled at my reaction. “Baby, please, I only want to help you!” he pleaded. “Well, you can’t! You are not my father!” I cried.
“I now that; I’m you’re man. Why are you attacking me?” asked Micah, defensively. “Because you’re here! Because, you’re here,” I tearfully repeated. My head drop as I gave way to tears. Micah came toward me and threw his arms around me. “It’s going to be okay, Kennedey. Everything’s going to be alright,” he soothed.
I cried in Micah’s arms for ten minutes before I sat him down on the sofa and revealed that Mom came back. Micah’s face grew in surprise as I told him most of the details from the night before. From what my ad to say, to Reagan kicking her out and Daddy rushing over to be with us. Micah was at a loss for words. I’ve spoken to him on one or two occasions about Mom, but I’ve never gotten into anything deep. Talking about my mom is not easy for me, never has.
There were a lot of details Micah didn’t know about my childhood because the only people I chose to talk to about Mom, was Daddy and Reagan. Micah tried to be supportive, but the truth is, he couldn’t truly understand what I went through. His family was similar to Jaylen’s. Micah’s parents were happily married and he grow up in a non-dysfunctional household. He didn’t have a clue what having a mother like Apollonia was like.
Although he protested, Micah obliged and left me to be alone with my thoughts. I appreciated his support and I know he’s genuinely concerned, but I needed my privacy. When something like this happens, I can go from super high to super low. I usually freak out, then shut down. Maybe that’s not the healthiest way of dealing with things, but it’s all I knew how to do. I freaked out last night. I’d had my moment and now it’s time for me to go inside myself and find peace. Like, I told Reagan, it isn’t a question of wanting to be alone, but needing to be alone. The question is, where do we go from here? Nothing is definite any longer and I can’t be sure about anything. Reagan told Mom to not come back. She seemed very upset by that, but there isn’t any way Mom won’t reappear, I guarantee it.
Two and a half days had passed since Mom came back. Sixty-four hours, nineteen minutes, and thirty-seven seconds to be exact. I haven’t slept very much. I kept wondering if she would pop up at my door next. I’m partly afraid she will and relieved she hadn’t. No one outside the family and Micah knows Mom is here. I phoned my assistant, Aziza at the gallery that there was a family emergency and I couldn’t come in; it’s the truth.
I scanned my calls but didn’t answer my phone. I waited to hear from Daddy or Reagan if Mom had made any sort of contact again. Daddy and Micah left messages wanting to see how I’m doing. Reagan wanted to know why I didn’t answer my phone. I could tell from Reagan’s tone on my voice mail that she’s irritated that I’m not communicating with anyone. I didn’t owe her any explanations. I had no desire to speak to anyone, least of all her right now.
I’m curious to know where Mom went and why no one’s heard from her since the other night. I know we haven’t seen the last of her. She’s holding everyone in suspense. I needed something to happen, either give us answers or say good-bye and never come back. Its one or the other. Honestly, I’m not ready to face Mom again, but being in limbo is killing me. I jumped every time I heard a car door slam or someone walking by on the street. I keep dreaming that the doorbell rings and Mom’s at my door.
I started dozing off on the sofa when I heard a loud knock at the door. My stomach lept into my chest until I peered out the window and saw Reagan’s BMW parked outside. I let out a deep sigh. Considering how things ended the other day, I knew it there would be an argument between my sister and I.
I opened the door to let Reagan in. I didn’t bother to greet her and walked back into the living room. “Well, hello to you too,” snarked Reagan. “Don’t start with me, Reagan. Just say what you have to say,” I replied. “What’s wrong with you, Kennedey? You go M.I.A. and no one hears from you in more than two days. Dang, do you think you’re the only one having a hard time dealing with this? Mom reappears and you and I haven’t even really discussed it,” said Reagan.
“What are you talking about? We all talked about it the other night,” I replied. “Yes, partially, but only with Daddy. I’m talking about you and I; we haven’t talked about it,” objected Reagan. I rolled my eyes. “What else is there to talk about, Reagan? We know Mom is here. It’s the first time in ten years since we’ve heard jack from her. She never acted like a real mother growing up, and now she wants to see us. What am I missing?” I asked.
“Lose the attitude, Ken,” said Reagan. “Don’t come in my house with an attitude, Rea,” I countered. “And people get on my case about shit; you’re the one who’s really spoiled!” accused Reagan. That lit me up. “How the hell am I spoiled?” I shouted. “Hello? Look at yourself! You went into a meltdown and flipped the other night. You were a total mess, I had to do everything like I always do!” Reagan shouted back. “Oh, please. You were screaming and yelling. Mama barely said anything because you were going off!” I argued. “Excuse you? You were crying hysterically the entire time Mom was there. She’s both of our mother, but you left me to do all the talking. Nothing’s changed; Reagan does everything for her baby sister, once again!” cried Reagan.
“I’m sorry if I wasn’t as cool as a cucumber. My mom who abandoned me ten years ago, only came back into my life. Sorry if I disappointed you by not keeping it together!” I sarcastically replied. “Outta here with that. You’re such a baby. Either I clean up your mess or Daddy does. You were the same way when he had his heart attack; completely useless! I have news for you, Kennedey; I have a real baby to take care of now. I can’t be coaxing you off the ledge, dealing with my husband and trying to take care of my child at the same time! Grow up already!” shouted Reagan.
“How do you take care of me? Who’s the one that came over here? I didn’t ask you to come, did I? Stop trying to make this about you!” I angrily shouted. “I’m not making it about me. You’re only concerned with Kennedey. We’re dealing with a family crisis and you run off and hide like always. Who dealt with Daddy’s doctors when he was in the hospital? Me. Who set up his therapy and handled all of his medical bills for months? Me. Who came out to IP, found us a place to live and handled the sale of the Starlight house? Again, me! Its always me, Kennedey. I do everything while you try to forget all the bad shit that needs to be taken care of; you run into your damn art room in there and pretend the real world doesn’t exist!” yelled Reagan.
Her words stung. I didn’t want to acknowledge the possibility that what Reagan said, might be true. I waved my hand, dismissing her. “Look, Kennedey, I didn’t come over here to fight with you. I’m worried about you. I need to talk about this with somebody. Daddy and Jaylen aren’t enough. I need my sister. Despite my reaction the other night, this is hard for me too, okay? I’m not sleeping. I keep checking out the windows for Mom. I don’t know if she has my number, but I keep checking my phone to see if she’s called or emailed me. You have to stop doing things like this, Kennedey. You have to stop disappearing!” cried Reagan.
“You disappeared on me too, Reagan! You have Jay and the baby; all I have is an empty canvas in there and a pile of paintings I need to sell!” I objected. “That’s not true. You have me, your niece, and my husband is like a brother to you. What about Micah? You have him too. Stop pushing people out and when they have other things to take care of, don’t accuse them of not being there!” replied Reagan. I shook my head, not wanting to accept Reagan’s words as fact. “I don’t have Micah like you have Jay. He’s caught up in his work, as am I. I don’t posses half of things in your life, Reagan,” I said.
“That’s because you need to allow yourself to want those things, Kennedey. Look, I know it’s been a struggle for you. We’ve both gone through some seriously messed up shit, but there needs to come a point when you say, enough is enough and I deserve happiness. Ken, you deserve to be happy, I do too. It took time, but I had to give myself permission to be happy when I got with Jaylen. I refused to let everything Mom took from me, stop me from having what I wanted. I had to stop hating myself and learn to love the woman I am inside. Mom didn’t win out. That son of a bitch I laid down with for a year didn’t win. The haters out there who want to see me fail, didn’t win either. I’m here and I’m living my life.
Mama may be back, but we can’t continue to let her have all the power over us any longer. She’s had it for over twenty-five years. I’m not going to be a slave and you can’t either. I made a promise to myself the first time I looked into my daughter’s eyes. I promised this cycle of hating myself and seeking validation from others would stop with me. There’s no way I’m passing that down to Marseille. She deserves everything we never had and so much more. Kenney, you and I deserve everything too,” said Reagan, tearing up.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry about all this fighting. We need to stick together, Reagan. I feel so screwed up right now; can’t figure this out,” I replied, tearfully. “I know, that’s why we have to figure it out together. You and I have more in common with our mother leaving than Daddy does with his wife leaving. I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster the last few days. Sometimes I never want to see her again and other times I want to erase the past and just be happy,” confessed Reagan.
Reagan and I talked about some of our favorite childhood memories and the not so favorite ones for over two hours. She admitted to breaking down more than once in the last couple of days, as did I. Neither one of us knew what would happen next. The ball’s in Mom’s court, whether she passes or shoots is up to her.
I stopped by Reagan’s house to see check on her, but Jaylen told me she was at her sister’s. He said he wanted to talk about Reagan. Jaylen’s afraid his wife is shutting him out once again because she hasn’t discussed in great detail what she feels about Apollonia coming to IP the other day.
“Reagan is strong, she has endurance. She just needs to go through whatever it is she needs to. I’m worried this will bring up all those old feelings of resentment toward her mother. The ones that have festered inside her entire life. Reagan has come a long way, tremendously, however those wounds left by her mom have never completely healed. I can imagine that negativity will be her only focus, initially,” I said.
“Yeah. I’m so worried about her, though. I’ve never seen my wife like this. I know it’s hard for her, but she acts like she doesn’t want me to help her. Reagan has always had it in the back of her mind that I’m not fully capable of sympathizing with her because our family dynamics were so different. There’s been plenty of times when she completely wrote me off. I know she doesn’t mean to. Reagan’s talked to me about Apollonia here and there. When she first got pregnant, she was so afraid she wouldn’t be a good mother,” replied Jaylen. I nodded.
“This may or may not surprise you, but Reagan’s shut me out at different times when it came to trying to cope with what Apollonia did. I knew this day would eventually come, I imagined it would be like this. “Kennedey hasn’t said as much as her sister, but I know she’s taking this very hard. One of the things I’ve always tried to teach Kennedey was to be more open about the way she felt and not bottle everything in. This high and low pattern of her being hysterical to shutting down is not good at all. In the past, when Reagan dealt with something like this, she misdirected her anger at everyone and everything instead of keeping all the focus what’s truly significant. She still has a tendency to do that, although not as bad.
Kennedey, on the other hand, holds her issues inside rather than dealing with them. She’ll archive the problem and pretend it didn’t exist. Kennedey will often channel her true feelings into something else, like her work or several different social causes. Her mother left her and she’s always been too afraid of letting someone get too close. I see what that did to her, I see the ramifications. Kennedey has this fear of being rejected or left behind. That fear is almost tangible. She’s gotten better. She’s allowed Micah to be in her life. And I know its a struggle for her to trust him, wholeheartedly. There’s a part of Kennedey that feels she doesn’t need anyone and that’s the part of her that fears everything and everyone the most,” I said.
Jaylen seemed relieved once I told him not to worry too much about Reagan. She dealing with this the best way she knows how. I’m sure she won’t do a complete one-eighty by lashing out like she has in the past. Still, Reagan needs to deal with those deep rooted issues. I can only hope this doesn’t set her too far back especially considering how far she’s come.
I left Reagan’s house a couple of hours ago and now I’m thinking of going into town for some Chinese takeout. Although I haven’t seen Kennedey in a couple of days, I’ve left her messages and she’s texted me back. I didn’t expect her to want to talk too much right now. I hope her visit with her sister went well today considering the argument they had at the house. I know Ken needs her space but isolating for too long isn’t healthy. I planned on going over there earlier today, but Reagan has already paid her a visit. I figured it’s good for them to get this out in the open and talk like sisters. Their dynamic with their mother is different than mine is.
As I headed out the door, on my way to grab takeout, I noticed a missed call from an unknown number and a new voice mail. I put in my pin and waited for the message to play:
Raymond, I’m sure by now, Reagan and Kennedey have told you that I’m here.
I know this is a shock to hear from me after all these years.
You and I need to talk. I would appreciate it if you came to my hotel room as soon as possible.
I’m staying at the Isla Paradiso Marriott on the West Island, room #202.
I’ll be here all evening…
I imagined receiving this phone call for over ten years. I’ve thought about what Apollonia could possibly say to me when that time came. I didn’t feel anything right now; I’m numb. I’m not completely surprised to hear from her, I knew I would eventually. She sounded so casual and matter-of-fact in her message; like she was leaving me a list of items to get from the grocery store. The kids have openly wondered when she would make contact again. We all knew she wasn’t gone for good. Reagan thought maybe their mother would try to call or email them first instead of popping up again. It’s not like that information would be hard to obtain. You can find out just about anything via the internet these days.
I didn’t tell Reagan or Kennedey, that their mom would most likely contact me before reaching out to them again. I knew Apollonia better than anyone and generally how she operates. Sure, there were things she kept hidden and much of her persona remained a mystery to me, but I got closer to her than anyone else on this earth. At least I can say I did up until ten years ago.
I can’t explain it and this is something I’ve never told my children, but I always knew there was a possibility Apollonia would leave given the chance. I remember times when I waited past three in the morning for her to get home, thinking could this be the day she leaves? The probability of divorce often knocked on our door, that or her pulling a disappearing act. Even when it happened, I couldn’t believe she’d actually gone through with her threats of leaving. It was hard dealing with the fact that my wife left me, but knowing she left our children was even harder.
Apollonia knew I would expect her to contact me; hence the casualness of her message. I can only imagine she wants to talk to me about Reagan and Kennedey and their rejection. Apollonia claimed she wanted to see them and she’ll use me as a way to get to them. It won’t be that easy, however. Yes, I know my wife, but I don’t know what she’s changed into after all these years. My goal will always be to protect my daughters, even if that means from their mother.
Reagan and Kennedey have been on pins and needles the last couple of days. If I can do anything to hurry along the suffering they were feeling or stop it altogether, I will. I want to see my wife. I want to look into those same hypnotizing green eyes that captured me all those years ago in college. It’ll be interesting to hear what Apollonia has to say after all these years; how she can possibly explain leaving her family in the middle of night and showing up years later unannounced. Yes, I loved my wife still, but what she did was no different than my own father in many ways. I’ve never gotten over that and I’m unsure if I can get over this.
I drove around for over an hour, trying to decide if I should see Apollonia tonight. There’s really no getting around it. I knew I’d have to face eventually. I can’t even say with all sincerity that I’m angry with her. Sure, I was furious when she first left. Actually I was brokenhearted then angry. After all these years, I’m not angry. I’m not sure what I am one hundred percent of the time. Apollonia is here and it’s my duty as a father to confront her.
My children are grown women now, but they weren’t when their mother left. In a way, her actions stifled their growth. Reagan and Kennedey are magnificent young ladies, but there are so many things I wish I could change about their upbringing. I hadn’t noticed I turned onto Island Way, the main road leading to the Marriott. Before I knew it, I was making a right into the parking lot. I can’t change what’s about to happen now.
I parked my truck at the Isla Paradiso Marriott and headed up to room 202. I tried not to over think anything on my way over here. The last memory I have of Apollonia was being angry with her and hurt. I probably have several different emotions I’m currently feeling, but I can’t pinpoint one to focus on. I cleared my head, trying to think I’m here to get answers and not resolve everything in one evening.
My palms began to sweat as I knocked on the hotel room door. I heart the sounds of heels clacking against the floor. Despite my calm demeanor on the way over here, I felt a case of nerves rush through my system.
The door swiftly swung open. Just as the first time I laid eyes on her, I was struck with shock. I locked eyes with Apollonia. We stared at one another for what seemed like the longest time. Her face was expressionless, but something’s changed; her eyes didn’t seem as cold. Reagan briefly mentioned the other night, her mother seemed different. She couldn’t tell me in what way. Even looking at Apollonia after all this time, I can’t put my finger on it.
I flashed on different occasions with my wife. I remember most days I spent married to you; the good ones, the bad ones; especially the bad ones. Was I stupid to fall in love with someone who didn’t love me the same? Apollonia, you instantly had me the first time I laid eyes on you, although I belonged to another. Do you remember out first anniversary? Reagan was about seven months old. We didn’t have a lot of money; we couldn’t afford a lot on my trainer salary. I saved up just enough money to buy you a bottle of Chanel No. 5, the perfume, not the cologne. I planned a romantic evening at Versailles, that restaurant you loved so much in Little Havana. Our babysitter ended up canceling on us at the last minute.
I knew how sad you’d been for the past several months. I told you, we could have our anniversary dinner some other night, but you said no and suggested we bring Reagan along. So there we were, celebrating one year of marriage with our daughter. Maybe she’s the reason we got married and maybe you regretted that you did. You seemed to be in a good mood that night and we didn’t argue. I like telling Reagan how she came along on our date. No matter how old that story is, she still likes to hear it. You may think life is miserable, that there were no good times, Apollonia, but I hope you remembered that night.
Maybe I loved you too hard or too much. All I ever tried to do was make you happy. You, our girls, our family was; is my dream. I think I’ve done an okay job with raising Reagan and Kennedey. They’ve become beautiful good human beings. You would be proud of them if you knew them like I did. So, is that why you’re back? To claim our children, to have a relationship with them? I can’t begin to describe the magnitude of pain you’ve caused them, so you can understand if I’m wary on your return to our lives. Whatever is your reason, you should know that I’m a father first, husband second and I will not allow you to hurt Reagan and Kennedey again. I shook my head, trying to regain my senses. I didn’t want to forget one second why I’m here tonight.
“Raymond, hello,” said Apollonia. “Apollonia,” I replied, stoically. I’ve waited ten long years to face her. This is my time and I won’t allow her to keep me from having my say, not now, not ever.