July 17, 2012

Dear Mama,
You likely never realized the fright caused by those unexpected rides in the night.  Yes, you’d get upset about something, usually an argument with Daddy, and off we’d go.  You, Brad and me.

Out the door in a flurry of having the last word.  Shouts of never coming back and then backing quickly out of the drive!

I think we still had the 1949 Chevy then.  You didn’t learn to drive until I was six, so our night-time drives must have been much later than that.  Brad came along when I was eight — probably I was 10 when I remember this happening.

After you whipped out of the drive, you drove through the streets with no destination, or so it seemed to my child’s mind.  I thought when we were in the car we were supposed to be going somewhere.

But not on these nights.

I’d remember those words, “never coming back,” and wonder if you meant that.  Then I’d wonder what Daddy was feeling.

Was he lonely already?  Did he think we weren’t coming back, really, for sure?  I wondered those same things.  And I felt lonely and afraid.  Where would we be sleeping that night?  Where would we live if we didn’t go back?

Maybe that’s why I’ve never liked the dark or being alone in the evening.  I wonder.

After about an hour, measured in child time now remembered, you’d pull back in the drive.  Brad would be asleep, and you’d carry him inside while I followed wondering what it had all been about.

I know I was glad to be back home, glad to be with Daddy and my room, glad to be safe.  I’m guessing you never realized what working out your anguish cost your children.

For whatever reason we took those night rides, I’m so very sorry for you.  So sorry for us.

Continuing to try to understand and unravel, I am

Your daughter