Katie and David were sitting on the couch while their mother paced back and forth in front of them. She looked like a lawyer about to give her final argument, but they didn’t know what it was. Both of them were doing well in school, in soccer, in everything. They didn’t hang out with the “wrong kids.” They had no idea why they why they were summoned to the couch.
“I have something to tell you.” She began. Minds were racing –death, disease, moving…
“Your father and I are getting a divorce.” That wasn’t even an idea in either of their heads. Nothing they had braced for or imagined. By the look of shock on their faces, she felt she must continue.
“I really want you two to understand something. I know most kids think it’s their fault when this happens, and most parents try to explain that it isn’t –because it isn’t. But somehow, the kids never believe them. But here’s the thing, your father and I stayed together so long because of you –not for you, but because of you. What I mean is, as the four of us, we are awesome, aren’t we? I mean dad coaches the soccer team, you guys play, I’m the team mom who bakes cookies, and we all go out for pizza. We have fun. We are a great family. –But the two of us are just horrible. And when you two aren’t around, it’s miserable. When you start dating and hanging out outside without us, and go to college, we might resort to killing each other –that’s a joke…” she laughed nervously. “You’re getting close to that age, and we can’t face it together. I know this sucks. I know. It sucks for me too. I LOVE the four of us, but the two of us, just aren’t working.”
Katie and David just sat there stunned. You could see their minds reeling through moments. Did they miss something? How did they not see it? Were all of their great times fake? There was just nothing they could say. They didn’t talk at dinner. Since their father didn’t come home that night, it was a very quiet house. Both of them left the table after dinner mumbling something about homework. And that was it.
Their mother was left sitting by herself on the couch all night, hoping, praying they understood, hoping they didn’t hate her or resent her, hoping she could do this.
The next morning passed without a word. Both Katie and David woke up and got ready without any prodding. They had their usual toast with cinnamon sugar and orange juice. And they grabbed their packed lunch, without a word, without looking in their mother’s eyes, without looking at anything.
It wasn’t 30 minutes before the phone rang. The voice on the other side said, “Is this Mrs. Haley?”
“Yes, who is this?” she answered wondering if she should change that after the proceedings, or should she keep it to be the same as her children.
“This is the police, ma’am.” And he paused for a long time. Long enough to wonder what kind off trouble her husband –soon to be ex-husband was in. Or no, maybe David skipped school and he was picked up somewhere…
“You have a son, David, and a daughter Katie?”
“Yes.” She said almost quietly. David would cut school, but Katie, never. “What is this about?”
“Their school bus was in an accident this morning, and I’m sorry, but…”