I Used to Call my Parents Every Day

I used to call home every day. I called them separately when I was walking to and from class. They would tell me about their day, and I would tell them about mine; it was easy to pretend that everything was fine. Then, this summer, when I would call on my way home from work they would say things like, “You know, this has been a really tough summer for us.” I would brush it off, thinking, yeah, well what else is new. In high school, I told my parents that I thought that they should get a divorce. At least no one would be fighting all the time if they lived in separate places.

In my head, divorce meant that my parents would still be best friends. We would still go on family vacations and family dinners. Things would be different, but everyone would just be happier. There were still plenty of fun times ahead. And that’s exactly what they said when they sat us down and told us that they were getting a divorce. They said it would be as easy as possible. There would be no bickering or animosity. But, it was all a lie. There is lots of animosity and lots of bickering and nobody's happy. I used to call home every day. But something changes when you don’t have a home phone number to call, when the answering machine is the voice of a person who no longer lives there. It’s different when your parents burst into tears on the telephone and ask how the other is doing because they’re not talking anymore.

I guess it’s easier being away. I don’t have to watch the boxes being packed into trucks. I can pretend that my world hasn’t turned upside down. I can pretend that everything is normal. But, then I sing a song about happiness fading into memory. And I realize, all the happy times I’ve ever had with my family are in the past. I’ll never know what it’s like to have a truly happy family of my own. And that’s a tough pill to swallow.

Maybe in the future things will be better. I hope that they will. But for now, that future is a dim, dim light at the end of a long, long tunnel. Some days I forget about the tunnel. But then I call home and absorb everyone’s loneliness and everyone’s sorrow. Some days they seem to forget about the tunnel too. But all it takes is one question. It all comes rushing back into focus. The dim light, the long tunnel. And the lone person struggling to carry everyone they love to the light. All I can do is think and sing:                    

  “Let me lead you up away

Beyond the sunset,

Beyond the sea

Where the still living memories

are sailing still.”

Kathleen Allan, In Paradisum

The road is long and I have grown weary. And all that’s left is a sea of memories drifting away.

I used to call home every day. But now I dread calling home. Do I even have a home to call?

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