But in a way, I did leave; I left my life as I knew it. I drank too much and ate too little. I slept too little and thought too much.
I cropped more photos, swiped left and right, bantered online with different men. I eliminated smokers, motorcyclists and those who confused “your” for “you’re.” I stopped staring at old family photos and started scrutinizing pre-pandemic pictures of men at the beach, on vacation, in suits, in offices. My husband had lifted the veil, and I peered out at a world I had never seen before, a world full of different people and alternate possibilities.
Mother’s Day fell on Day 48, more than three weeks after Jason left. Alexa, who generally shies away from arts and crafts, made a sign that spelled “Happy Mother’s Day” in dangling paper letters. I touched each letter, wiping my tears, trying to remind myself that no matter what — Covid-19, divorce, death — I was still a mother.
I was starting to fade, though. I stopped cooking and barely ate.
Tyler, who used to say, as a 4-year-old with a lisp, “You’re a good cooker, Mama,” began saying, “You’re awfully tiny, Mama.”
We still gathered in the kitchen every night, just the four of us, the empty fifth chair carefully ignored, but food overwhelmed me. Hunger and habit left. I didn’t realize the refrigerator was nearly empty until Tyler and Irina returned from Trader Joe’s.
Irina handed me a bouquet of pink roses and held me as I cried. Tyler, who had woken me at 2 a.m. with a panic attack, stood close and wiped his eyes in the way he used to after toddler naps. I wished I had a blankie for him, for all of us.