• Cate

Just Let Go

The fall was approaching. Mina was going to need to start kindergarten soon. We needed stability. We needed a choice. My brother was getting married in early September and I had resolved to be there. I wasn’t going to miss it.

Patrick knew. He knew I planned to go home for the wedding. But now I had decided to leave, things had changed. I was trying to save money. He noticed. I was trying to downsize a bit. He noticed.

All of a sudden, he needed to take the car to work, leaving the kids and I stranded at the hotel. The extra time trapped in the hotel wore on us all. Time was running out. I needed to get home.

It was my last day at work. Patrick and I had argued the night before about the car. I told him I needed to take the car to get home to my brother’s wedding. We’d be back afterward. He was suspicious.

He seemed a little too happy that morning as he got in the car to drive me to work. We made it only a few blocks before the car broke down. He didn’t really seem upset. He pulled into a parking lot. I saw an ice cream store and I brought the kids over.

He cheerfully sorted out the car. I had to call into work because he now needed to take care of the broken car and I had to watch the kids. It was all too perfect. He happened to be a mechanic. He just so happened to find a friend in a short period of time to tow the car elsewhere.

Something like that would have made him so mad before. He would have blown his top. But he seemed happy about this almost. “How were you going to get home to your brother’s wedding?”

So now I had no car. I had lost the last chance at making any money before I left. He informed me the next day that he had been fired from his job. We were moving out of our hotel room. It was up to me to figure out where we would go.

I had no car. No money. No help. I called my Auntie Jody. I was barely hangin on. She told me that she was going to rent me a car. We had to drive to Colorado Springs to rent the car from a friend of a friend who would agree to take a credit card over the phone. But we couldn’t pick it up until the next day.

Patrick figured he had me now. I would have to bring the car back. This was temporary. If I wanted my car back, I’d have to COME back for it. And we sat there, in his friends front yard, on the grass, as the sun set. His friend wouldn’t invite us in. I thought we’d be stuck sleeping on the grass.

At the last minute, Patrick’s friend, Kyle, called. He said we could spend the night with him. Patrick had borrowed his Dad’s truck for the night. We all piled in and drove to Kyle’s house. I didn’t care where we were going. It was inside.

Kyle was Patrick’s friend from the hood. Kyle spoke a very thick slang and I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. He didn’t really understand my proper English either. Patrick had to translate at times when we didn’t understand one another.

Kyle sold weed that he grew in his basement for a living. I would never have chosen this home for my children for a night. But compromises must be made at times. Kyle was wonderful.

He made us all these crazy delicious hamburgers. He got us a bunch of blankets and pillows and we got the kids settled on the gigantic sectional. He turned on a movie for the kids and turned off the lights. Kyle told funny stories and entertained us until the kids were asleep. Then he left us to get some sleep for the night.

You can say what you want about his profession. But out of everyone in that state, he was the only one who would take us in that night. He was hospitable and kind. I will be forever grateful to Kyle for his gift of shelter that night. Sometimes people surprise you.

The next day, we went to get the car. It took absolutely forever. By the time we got back to Aurora, the sun was setting. I drove to our friend’s house. My friend, Kristy, knew what was going on. Her husband may have known too, but they played it cool

Patrick was going to go meet up with a friend and be back. He planned to follow us to Minnesota, he said. We’d talk about it, but his friend was coming to get him and he’d be back. He hugged the kids and he kissed me.

He was hardly gone and we piled in the car. My friend wished us luck and sent us with some snacks. We drove into the night and I never looked back. I told the kids we were going on a long drive to see Auntie Jody and that we were going to stay there for awhile. We weren’t going to see Daddy for a long while.

They didn’t even cry. They soon fell asleep. As soon as they were out, I started to cry. I had left and now he knew that I was gone. I knew he wouldn’t come after me. As hard as he made it for me to leave, as dramatic as he made it in the end, I believe he wanted us to go. But he couldn’t just let go.

I arrived in Minnesota mid-morning two days before my brother’s wedding. We had to wait for Auntie Jody to be done with work because she’d moved and I didn’t know where she lived. It was the beauty of it if he did follow: he wouldn’t know where to find me because I didn’t know where I was going myself.

I got to Phil’s house and his family was there. His sister and her family were in town from Florida for my brother Tom’s wedding. It was fun to see everyone. We drove out to my Dad’s house and my step-mother, Pam, exclaimed that I’d gotten so skinny and that I’d finally look good in clothes. She picked out an outfit for me to wear to the wedding.

My sisters were there and it was so good to see everyone. But I was exhausted, so we drove to Jody’s finally. I burst into tears the moment I saw her. We went inside and had a glass of wine. She ordered pizza and we all ate and then went swimming in the pool inside her building. The kids and I would all share one big bed, and it was probably the best for now anyway. We were all freaked out and we only felt okay when we were all together.

The next few days went by in a whirlwind. Tom and Ashley got married. We celebrated and drove home that night, despite my Dad’s insistence we stay in his cabin. Something in me just told me to go.

The day after the wedding, we went to Phil’s house for the gift opening. Tom was about to go on a two month honeymoon. He handed me the keys to his car and told me I could drive it until he got back. I was so grateful. It was the best gift. I returned the rental car the same day.

At the wedding, my cousin had told me about the school her son went to. She told me to enroll Mina. I did and she started kindergarten almost immediately. She was so brave. School was hard for her, but she didn’t complain. She went every day with a smile on her face.

My Auntie Kathy took me to a place called Cornerstone. I sat in an advocates office and told her my story. We went through a short intake process and were invited to a women’s group. A meal would be provided and then child care was offered while the mom’s went to group.

Being home wasn’t so bad after all. I was still feeling stressed. I was still freaking out. This wasn’t a permanent solution. I would have to find something more stable and soon. I had been so deep into survival mode, I had to just learn to relax again. And although things had started off well, they certainly didn’t stay that way.

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