Family Barbecue

Early last week I received a group message from my stepmother, reminding us of the family barbecue coming up on Sunday. That was the first I heard of it.

I asked Carol, who had not seen my family aside from my mom since before the incident, about it.

“Take the kids, I’ll stay home,” she said.

I told my stepmom we’d be there, not specifying who was included in ‘we’, and decided I would wait until later in the week to push Carol to go.

I may have mentioned this before but in August I talked to my dad on the phone, notifying him that Carol was back home. I told him she was terrified to see him.

“She has nothing to be afraid of,” he said, “Shit happens. People work through it.”

I had told her this after I hung up the phone but she was unconvinced and had expected to face the wrath of dad and stepmom at some point. Remember, I actually called my poor dad as I was in the process of cursing at and kicking out Carol.

Sunday morning came and Carol woke up, complaining of aches and pains from a hard week at work.

“You can join me in a hot shower and I’ll rub your back,” I suggested.

We have not been very sexual at all since our weekend getaway and I was expecting a “no” from her, however she did join me this time.

One of the best feelings in the world is a naked body in your arms in a shower. I held her as the hot water rained on us. She rested her head on my shoulder, “I could fall asleep like this,” she said. I took that to mean she loved being in my arms. She so rarely outright says something reassuring to me.

We made out for a bit, held each other some more, then got out to start our day. I went out and ran some errands on my own. When I got home, I sat down beside her and asked, “So, are you coming?”

“Yes,” she sighed, unenthusiastically.

That was easy.

Carol moped around the house as she cleaned.

“Worried?” I asked. “Don’t be. We’re a family and they will see that. They will respect my choices.” Though I could think of a relative or two who might make a fuss, I wasn’t going to dare mention that. It was important that Carol dealt with this now, and I didn’t want to scare her off from going. Christmas is coming, we need to get the awkward first meet out of the way before that.

“They’re going to be all fake around me,” she said.

“We’re all fake around people. That’s life.”

“I wish they would just yell at me and get it over with.”

“I yelled at you and ‘got it over with’.”

“Yes, you did,” she replied.

You think it’s ‘over with’ after you get yelled at? It’s never over with, I thought to myself. It’s a scar that will never go away.

We went to the barbecue and everyone was just fine, with hugs and everything. I made a comment to my dad about his dog that made Carol and I laugh hysterically. Everything was like normal, but what Carol did remained in my mind and I’m sure it did with the others too.

We got home and I asked Carol what she thought.

“I think they don’t like me,” she said.

“I think that may be just in your head.”

“Maybe.”

What Carol doesn’t understand is that she is family. She hurt them too. They love her and want her in their lives too. So, they move on. She crushed my soul, but we all move on. No one hates her. Everyone just forgives and goes about their business.

And this makes it all the more difficult to for me to forgive her.

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