when goodness came, she didn't know how to handle it. it was something to be fearful of, not to trust. she'd been fooled before. she didn't believe entirely that this could be true. what was the saying... too good to be true, it probably is? she wondered if this was another cruel joke being played on her by the universe.
she wanted to take a chance. she wanted to believe in the goodness, the light. he asked her to come live with him. he asked her to bring her children, her meger possessions, her soul. he asked her to try to trust.
she didn't want to risk it all. she didn't want to put her children in a potentially harmful place. she just didn't know. she talked to the man she called husband - in name only - and told him she was moving away to make a fresh start. would he keep the kids for a little while until she could find a job. find a home. he said yes.
he moved home with his parents, taking the children. she moved to another city. another life. she talked to her husband. she asked about the kids. he said they were fine. he told her she had a week to get her things out of the apartment. he'd taken what he wanted.
she got a job. she got her things. she was staying with him. it felt right. it felt good. it felt safe. he felt safe.
she called her husband. his mother answered. she said he wasn't there. it was early in the morning. she heard his morning smoker's cough in the background. she'd lived with it for five years. she'd know it anywhere. his mother denied it. his mother lied. she tried to let her talk to the kids. one four, one two. no. no. she could hear her little boy in the background, not much more than a baby. she heard him crying in rhythm to his rocking. she could picture him on his hands and knees. ma.ma.ma.ma.ma. her heart ripped out of her chest and fell to the floor. his mother hung up.
he held her as she sobbed. he promised her he'd do whatever it took to try and make it right.
she found out his parents were encouraging him to sue for full custody. the social worker came to investigate. they interviewed everyone she knew. they interviewed people she barely knew. when the report came back it said he should have the children. it said she took drugs. it said she was a bad mother. who said it? the people of the church where she tried to fit in. the people who claimed to love her. the people who were going on rumors and innuendo. the people who are supposed to reach out and help you up when you're down. the people who were friends of his family. there was no one to speak for her.
weeks went by. she was allowed visitation. the first time she picked up the kids and brought them to her home they barely knew who she was. they were distant and cool. she burned to hold them. to smell them. to touch their baby fine hair and look into their beautiful little faces. one blue-eyed, one brown... one brown-haired, one blonde. her sweet babies. she put them on the kitchen counter and let them watch while she made spaghetti - their favorite. she tried to talk to them. they just looked at her. she choked down the tears that threatened to wash down her face. they mustn't see her cry.
when they went home, once more she sobbed in his arms. knowing she'd done the right thing to leave and praying that she wouldn't be punished for it for the rest of her life. he told her it would be fine. he told her he loved her.
more time passed. court dates came closer. the divorce was final, but the custody still hadn't been resolved. she was seeing the children every couple of weeks and it was getting better. the day came. they went to court. standing outside of the courtroom, her husband comes to her. he's been talking to his lawyer and they were wondering if she'd be interested in joint custody. something new. it hadn't been used much before. she would have the kids during the week and he would have them on the weekends, alternating holidays. what did she think? what could she think? she was going to have her babies back again.
there isn't a mother out there who won't tell you the joy and peace of watching your babies sleep. she got that back. she never lost that joy. she treasures all of her children for all of their strengths... and weaknesses. she knows how close she came to losing them.