“Do you think you can manage to play house for a few hours?” Loralee’s voice rang in my ears, long after she’d left for the restaurant.
I didn’t even feel upset at that dig. I was an absentee parent at this point. While she was there, it was easier to be mad, but, now, I just felt miserable.
I stepped into Logan’s room where he was sleeping again. His pain meds really knocked him out. I had never felt like such a piece of shit as I looked down at him. Had he cried out for me in his pain? The thought of it made my heart wrench painfully in my chest.
I left the room and took a shuddering breath. It was an accident. They happened. If I’d been living here, I still probably would’ve been at work.
Accidents happen, I repeated to myself.
After another moment, I opened the door to Jasper’s room. I found him sitting on the floor with a toy in his hand, but he didn’t seem to be playing with it.
The little boy put his toy down and stood up. He looked up at me with wide, watery eyes. “Are you and Mom gonna get a divorce?” His lower lip quivered. “Andy’s parents did, and now he hasn’t seen his dad in forever, but I already hardly see you—“
“No!” I interrupted more fervently than was probably necessary. The very idea made my heart skip a beat. Your mom and I are going to be just fine. Grandma Ava just needs my help right now.”
“Why was she yellin’?”
I sighed softly. “It’s really hard to be apart. It’s stressful, and it makes us argue. We love each other very much.” Loralee was the love of my life. This time apart from her and our boys was awful. It seemed as if she didn’t realize that, though.
“Will you stay now? Please?”
I wanted to say yes, but I knew that I couldn’t. Mom was barely okay by herself for a few days. Sarah, who I’d barely spoken to for years before Dad died, had become a good friend again, so she and her husband were able to look in on Mom. But still, I couldn’t stay for very long.
“I’m sorry,” I said weakly. “I’ve got to go back to Windenburg soon to help Grandma.” Jasper looked sad but not surprised by the news.
I forced a smile onto my face. “Why don’t I play with you for a while?” I picked up a toy car.
Jasper quickly let go of his depressed mood and threw himself into playing. I wished it was so easy for me. While we played, I couldn’t stop returning my gaze to a picture and a ribbon on the wall.
Jasper had won the first grade spelling bee at school. Loralee had told me about it, of course, but I hadn’t realized how important a day it was. Everyone, Loralee’s parents, Luc, Alison, Nora, Josh, Anna, Blake. Everyone was gathered around my beaming son.
Everyone but me.