Late last May, 2010, my youngest child graduated from high school. That poor girl was doing everything she could to maintain a normal existence (while being thrust into a battle she should never have been involved in), and well she should have. High school graduation is a Big Deal and it should be celebrated. If indeed your life flashes before your eyes someday, one of the good memories should be high school graduation. Well, she had dumped on her a pile of shit in her personal life that Spring, no thanks to her father and me, to the point that she gave away all her graduation tickets save one. That one was for me. And I understood so clearly what she wanted. I knew that for one day, she wanted the focus to be on her, her achievement. Her. And to keep that focus on Her, we needed to keep the crazy away and yet I failed her in that one thing she wanted. I decided I knew that what she wanted that day wasn't what she would ultimately want in the Whole Scheme of Things and so I arranged for an extra ticket for her father. I sent him a text message telling him where my car was parked and where the spare ticket was inside the car and then patted myself on the back for knowing that they would both thank me later.
The graduation was fabulous. I spotted her instantly and felt an amazing swell of pride...not only for her achievement but for the role I felt I had in creating this amazingly bright and beautiful girl. I also spotted him, and saw how he disappeared after watching his daughter cross the stage and receive her diploma. Another pat on the back...
Things were so incredibly volatile back then and I instantly knew when things changed that day. All my daughter wanted for a graduation present was an ear piercing, one that required parental consent since she was only 17 at the time. We left the graduation and headed to the tattoo/piercing place and were dismayed to find out we needed a birth certificate as well as proof of age. We needed proof of a relationship. So, we rushed back home and I was greeted at the door by him, all smiles and what-have-you and I brushed past him saying I need her birth certificate! We have to hurry! They are about to close! And the dark storm cloud came across his face and for one of the first times I said fuck it, I can't worry about that right now, I have to get back to the store before it closes. I'll deal with this later. This is all about Her.
About an hour later, I had a very happy, proud-of-herself, bloody eared daughter who was happily basking in her Big Day while we shopped for supplies to keep her new piercing from getting infected. All the while I was texting him and telling him that I would meet him at The Bar as soon as I could. She wanted to rest up for her Big Night after her Big Day and once I knew she was safe and supplied with what she needed, I dropped her off at home and went to meet him.
Only, he wasn't there and no one knew where he was but he had been there and left without paying his tab so I figured that must mean he would be back soon...probably just went to get cigarettes or something...
So I waited. And waited. And then someone came in and told me my car was gone from the parking lot. Something he had done before, yes, but why on such a great day? It was all about Her. Remember?
Then I got the text message: All you have are the clothes on your back. The rest of your stuff will be distributed throughout the county tonight.
He had taken every piece of clothing I had. Shoes, lifelong souvenir t-shirts I had collected from everywhere I had been, dirty underwear (as well as clean), bathing suits. Everything I owned was bagged up and deposited in a Planet Aid box. Except the clothes on my back. The dress I wore to Her graduation.
Today, I wore that very same dress to court to finalize my divorce.