“Mooooooommmmmmyyyyyyy! He hit me in the head with a snowball!”
Much wailing ensued.
Then the inevitable retaliation.
It was dusk and we were having a family snowball fight in the fading twilight with the remnants of the morning’s blizzard. It had been great fun at first but as invariably happens with this sort of thing, someone always gets hurt.
So we threw the last few snowballs as the kiddos wiped away tears and then headed back inside for bedtime baths.
That was when my phone rang.
It was a neighbor.
“I just wanted to check on you! I heard a lot of screaming and ran across the street to your back gate but then decided that might not be a good idea, that you might think I was being too nosey.” Strained pause. “I was worried because… well… you know.”
It is coming up on a year and just when I thought I was working through the anger and shame…
There it is again.
I appreciate her concern on some level. I know she is not being malicious, per se. She understands that I would not ask for help, that she would have to elbow her way into my life and force herself on me.
I am too proud.
But it still feels strange. Intrusive. Painful.
We are not close friends. I was her parent’s physician before they moved out of state, and that fact has always seemed to blunt any possibility of friendship. Mixing the professional and personal has hung awkwardly over our heads even though those parents are long gone from the picture. It is so much deeper than that now, though.
He very nearly drank himself to death.
She was the one who went with me to the hospital, watched me cry as I had to tell my parents what happened, when I had to swallow my pride and beg them for help as my board exam loomed in a few days. When I see her or talk to her it is a reminder of that horrible, terrible time. A reminder that this will hang over our heads forever.
That I am not perfect. That my life is not perfect.
I want to ask her for a lead on a baby sitter so he and I can go to the opera, but I am afraid that she would refuse to recommend anyone, because… well… you know.
And so I don’t.
We awkwardly chit-chat and then hang up. I don’t know what to say to her anymore. So I build those walls higher and higher and push people further and further away.
It is lonely but safe…
The stone walls do not judge me.