By Stacy Jo Poffenbarger
Six years. Six long years. I waited and hoped and prayed and managed the instability while you looked for a way to find yourself. To forgive yourself. To reconcile your own past and face your own demons.
Everytime the phone rang or the text message sound went off. Every month that went by without a word.
Every time you said it was over, you were done. You loved me but not enough. You needed to be free.
And yet, I waited. Six long years. I looked after your mom while you were away. Behind your back. Taking her grocery shopping on Sundays and out to dinner on Wednesday’s, just so she wasn’t so lonely. I don’t even think she liked me very much, but she missed you and there was our common ground.
When she died, you called for me, and I was there to help pick up your pieces, drunk and broken.
I never dated anyone else. Never once strayed. I waited patiently, through the lies, the promises and the times you found comfort in someone else’s bed.
Some said I was a fool. Or a girl in love.
Then one day you came around. You were done running. You loved me enough and proved it with a ring. We started to build a life. Together. The three of us. You took my son with you to teach him to build a house. To learn to work with his hands. And then to the bar to bond like a man. I was so mad. You told me you and he were friends, buddies, pals. And he told me he thought you were funny and smart and cool. He was happy we were together. That I finally had the love I waited for. He told me he was relieved because he didn’t want me to end up all alone. And I was happy. Finally truly happy.
We were sitting on the couch, watching Family Guy and Billy was in his room playing video games and the dogs were on their beds and I was so happy. I looked at you and I thought to myself that all of my dreams had come true and this was it. Life was good.
And two weeks later Billy hanged to death in your house. The house the two of you were building together. Hanging from the rafter that I said to leave exposed because it added charm to the place. Surrounded by a group of his friends who never bothered to call for help until rigor mortis had set into his fingertips.
I fell on the floor and could not get up. You shouldered all of it. The calls to the morgue. To my dad. Arrangements to ship him home. You handled the people who came to the house. The ones who didn’t. My sad sick crazy mother. You took me to the house to see where he died. I had to get his clothes to bury him in and you told me it was ok that I couldn’t find his glasses. He didn’t need them. His eyes worked fine now. You got on the plane with me, sweaty palms and shallow breaths. I didn’t know you were afraid of flying. You never told me of the helicopter crash in the jungle during the war days.
Standing by my side, at the grave, when I couldn’t toss the rose down the hole onto my son. You stepped up. You held my hand. You gave me strength.
Back home to a quiet house. The dishes got washed. The laundry got done. The food was prepared. I laid in my son’s bed and cried. Days went by, you made me shower, drew me a bath. You took me to the beach. In the bright sunny blue ocean. And promised it wouldn’t always be so dark.
The shock subsided and the rage came and I shouted and screamed and broke things. I cursed you and blamed you and pushed you out the door. I told you it was your fault for leaving the extension cord out instead of putting it away. I told you I wished it were you and not him. I told you I hated you and I wanted to die. And you said: What about me? What happens to me if you die? And I told you I didn’t care.
And then one day you left. You told me you couldn’t take one more breath, not one more step. Not one more horrible poisonous toxic word that came from my mouth. I had broke your heart. And you were tired.
And I was alone, with my pain, in a place where now I had someone to blame. Anyone but my son.
And I’m sorry.
Stacy Jo Poffenbarger is a woman on a journey of recreation after the death of her only child. Billy was only 22 when he died in a hanging accident. She is a Clinical Therapist and Certified Addiction Professional and dedicates her life to assisting the addicted and mentally ill. She was inspired to create the blog The Year I Wore Yoga Pants in an effort to find light, understanding and healing. To learn more about this journey, please follow her at theyeariworeyogapants.com, on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.