The journey to the hotel was a quiet one. Neither Bette nor Shane spoke the entire time. As soon as Bette pulled up to the valet parking, she saw the police cars out front. She knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to explain what her thought process was – let alone get anyone to understand it. She took a deep breath, opened her door and stepped out of the car. Shane was already standing next to her. “Remember, Shane, I wasn’t all bad.”
As soon as I saw the patrol cars, I knew returning Angelica to Tina wasn’t going to go as smoothly as I had hoped. Deep in the recesses of my mind, I had hoped that this was all just some delusion that my mind had brought into my consciousness as some sort of cosmological joke. It was all too real though for that. Shane stood motionless next to me as I implored her to make sure that “my” girls knew that, despite all of the hatred Tina and I had spew at one another, I loved them both and would never dare bring nor wished any harm to either of them – even if that meant never seeing Tina or the sleeping angel in the back seat of my rental car.
Angel – our Angelica – Tina had picked the perfect name for our daughter. After all the turmoil of our separation – the infidelity – the hatred – she was the one thing that brought peace to us all. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity, daring not to disturb her slumber for fear that with her waking, the harsh reality of life and the world around us would come flooding forth. I leaned into the car and wrap my arms gently around the still bundle in the car seat that I had come to love more than life itself. She was the one person that I could count on to make every negative thought I had in my head disappear with just a giggle and smile. She made me more whole than I had ever felt I could be and there I was – giving away a part of me – though not biologically connected, she still felt like mine. She has her whole life ahead of her and here it was coming down to this one moment in time. I held her close and kissed her forehead. I knew that it might be the last time that I would see her for quite a while so I intentionally took my time – savoring the smell of the lavender baby shampoo that still lingered in her hair – the way it felt as her head rested on my chest – the gentle breath that escaped as she exhaled in her sleep. That is what would get me through this – the thought that one day; I might be able to experience all that and more from our sweet angel – our Angelica.
I felt the pressure of a strong hand on my back long before I felt the trickle of tears that trailed down my cheek and settled on my chin. I blinked a few times to clear my vision and stared at Shane. I don’t know if it was sympathy or pity that was reflected back at me – what’s more, I didn’t care. I brought myself on this journey. No one coerced me. Tina didn’t make me do what I did. I did it all of my own free will. Instead of breaking down those barriers and telling Tina how I felt, I bottled it up and blamed everyone but myself for my indiscretion, my failures… my life. I never told Tina until it was too late, how much I needed her. Now, here I was at one of the most vulnerable times in my life and I couldn’t even ask my best friend in the whole world for a shoulder on which to lean – a hand to help guide me in the right direction – a foot to kick my ass and tell me to get over myself. Instead I had Shane – for whom I was truly grateful to have as a friend, but who would never replace the one that I lost. The tears flowed freely and I could feel Shane’s hand start to guide me to the front doors of the hotel. All around me, nothing existed that could make the situation easier. With each hesitant step toward the hotel entrance, all that I could hear was the sound of crunching snow underfoot, the gentle breaths of the precious bundle asleep in my arms and the deafening beat of my own heart that resounded in my ears. About two thirds of the way there, I saw it – a flash of something familiar in my peripheral. My heart raced and I gripped Angelica tighter as I realized what it was… well actually, who it was.