The Pink Rose

October 11, 2011
“Did you have a stressful weekend?” my mom asked me that evening.
My head started to spin as the cold kitchen floor tile moved back and forth beneath my feet. I had paced a lot that weekend from boredom, anxiety, and irritation.
“Ashley.” The word meant nothing, but her tone said so much more.
We held eye contact for a moment, but I was blinded by bitterness: moments earlier, my mom had waited twenty minutes to finish her phone conversation with her boyfriend before walking inside the house. It was the first time I had seen her all weekend, and the scowl had crossed my face like slime. I loathed her radiating presence.
I knew what she wanted, so I forced a smile. “Yes?”
She dropped her eyes and began stirring the spaghetti that was boiling on the stove. Released from her gaze, I rushed out of the kitchen. The sun began to set as I threw my suitcase onto my bed and unzipped it, revealing bundled up clothes, books, and miscellaneous belongings. A hollow feeling in my chest throbbed as I started to put away the things that I had hauled to my dad’s house that weekend. I folded my favorite pair of jeans, unable to cry, because I didn’t know if I would ever be able to stop. I did not know the meaning of hate until I had to buy two toothbrushes, split my closet in half and drag my laptop, school supplies, and journals to a different house every other weekend. Some treasured part of my childhood had been stripped away from me, because with a separated family, I didn’t feel like I had a home.
I trudged downstairs when my mom called me for dinner. Before I sat down at the kitchen table, I looked out the window, and my breath caught in my lungs. Across our little backyard was a new addition: a single pink rose that had bloomed against the fence. A voice in my head said, It’s going to be OK.
I was abruptly pulled back to reality when my mother asked again, “Did you have a hard weekend? Please talk to me, Ashley.”
“Mama, the divorce hurts, and it really bothers me that you’re seeing someone else. I’m the backbone of my friends and my broken family, and I can’t sustain the weight of being strong for all of them. I want somebody to be strong for me!” I cried, my voice faltering with emotion.
That’s what I should’ve said.
Instead, my tears choked my words, and in my silence, I was revealed. Divorce, although it only suggests the separation of two, tears each individual family member as well. I was mourning for my separated family: my dad, whom I had tearfully left in a lonely house, my little sisters, who I couldn’t be strong for, and my mom, whom I hadn’t had a real conversation with for months. I looked out the window at the darkening sky, and the last time I saw the rose, one lonely tear fell down my cheek. It’s going to be OK.

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