Sydnee glanced at her phone and saw a text from her mother, Marilyn. Sometimes she wished she had never taught her mother how to use her smartphone. She reluctantly unlocked her phone and read the disjointed message. Sydnee. Come get from church. Missed van.
Marilyn didn’t ask Sydnee whether she was busy. Sydnee knew that her mother assumed since it was Wednesday night, she must be at home because she had work in the morning. She tried to excuse her mother’s presumption because she knew it stemmed from the fact that she was so proud of her. Sydnee sometimes needed the reminder that earning her position as the managing paralegal at a prestigious law firm in Manhattan and working toward her law degree simultaneously was a pretty big deal.
But, unbeknownst to Marilyn, Sydnee was not at home. She was on her way to see Clover. Earlier that evening after work, she had hurriedly thrown some things into her overnight bag and rushed out of her tiny apartment, not wanting to waste any time. They hadn’t seen each other in over two weeks and, as reluctant as she was to admit it, Sydnee missed Clover. Despite feeling a pang of desperation to see her that night, she wouldn’t exactly say that she and Clover were a couple and Sydnee was fine with that. Between her job and her classes, she didn’t have time for a relationship. Plus, she simply couldn’t be bothered with the kind of commitment that involved an emotional attachment to another person right now.
Sydnee sighed, frustrated that she would have to make a detour and prolong seeing Clover so she could give her mother a ride home from church. When she was little, Sydnee used to think that all of the church-going was just so her mother could pray the devil out of her quicker. But, even after Sydnee had long ago moved out of her mother’s house, and even longer since she stopped attending church with her, Marilyn still faithfully attended Bethel Bible Baptist at least three times a week.
Sydnee pulled over and hit the preset speed-dial on her cell phone to call Clover and tell her she would be late. She made a U-turn as Clover answered the phone with an excited-sounding, “Hey, Syd. What’s up?” Sydnee grinned at the sing-song sound of Clover’s voice and drove the fifteen minutes to Bethel Baptist through the cool, Fall night air.
“Mommy, how do you keep missing the van? This is the third time in two weeks.” Sydnee tried her best not to sound as exasperated as she felt.
Marilyn stepped into the car, pulling her heavy church bag through the door behind her. Her plump frame squeezed into the passenger seat and slightly shook Sydnee’s little black Nissan. “Hush, child. I am your mother. I didn’t count all the times I had to change your diapers or go up to your school and talk to your teachers or…”
Sydnee tuned her mother out as she pulled back onto Kings Highway. This could go on for another several minutes. It was better not to argue with the woman. Instead, she looked at the clock and tried to calculate when she would finally make it to Clover’s house. Sydnee silently prayed that Clover would be awake when she arrived. She’d been looking forward to seeing her from the minute they had confirmed their mini-reunion earlier that day.
Sydnee’s mother continued to chatter on, changing the subject to church gossip. Sydnee fought the urge to point out that, according to the Bible, gossiping was a sin.
Instead, it was Marilyn who suddenly interrupted herself. “You heard from your brother?” she asked in her subtle Jamaican accent. Unless she was upset or excited, Marilyn’s voice only held a slight lilt that barely indicated that she was born and raised in the islands. Her accent’s richness had been watered down by years of working in the big, upscale nursing home in Long Island where she had been told daily that the patients could not understand her and that she needed to learn to speak English if she wanted to be promoted from nursing assistant to LPN.
Thirty years and all of the required certifications and training later, Marilyn was the supervising practical nurse on staff. She made it clear to those close to her, especially her children, that she felt no shame that she had assimilated in order to advance. She knew that when you come to America as an immigrant, there are some things you must sacrifice so that you can realize the dreams that you were told could be yours.
“No, Mommy. Not since a couple weeks ago when I told you he called.”
Sydnee’s older brother Daniel lived in Atlanta, hundreds of miles away from her and her mother in Brooklyn. He had lived there for almost ten years now and rarely came to visit, but Marilyn never stopped hoping he would move back up north. Sydnee, on the other hand, knew better. Daniel left New York as fast as he was able to and started a trucking business down in Georgia. It wasn’t that he disliked Brooklyn, but Marilyn’s tendency to overpower her children with her love for them was too much for Daniel’s spontaneous temperament.
Sydnee pulled up beside the row house where she and her brother had grown up, and attempted to drop her mother off as quickly as she could. But Marilyn wouldn’t budge. She sat still, looking ahead of her at the browning tree leaves outside the window then drew in a breath as she turned to look at her daughter.
Sydnee took after her father, Harold, who was deported when she was just a child. Her red-tinged hair and freckles scattered atop her adobe clay-colored skin reminded Marilyn of back home years ago when she first started dating Harold or “Reddy,” as they called him.
Sydnee had heard the story at least one hundred times, although not so often these days. Marilyn would smile as she recounted how flushed with excitement Sydnee’s father had been when he came by her mother’s house in Linstead, where she lived, to tell her he had applied for a visa to go to America.
A month before that day, Marilyn had met Reddy at the primary school where she was working as the secretary and Harold had just been hired as the head of maintenance. She was on her way to the food market down the street during her break when he approached her.
“Miss Marilyn, you a go get lunch? Let me walk yuh.”
Marilyn had no idea how he knew her name but later found out he had been asking around. His cousin, Ruby, the first form teacher, had filled him in. Marilyn never liked the girl because she could never mind her own business. Ruby had gotten Harold the job at the school when he returned to Jamaica a few months prior. He had spent a year in England on a university scholarship for engineering but was forced to come back after he ran into some trouble. Marilyn would soon learn all about him but at that moment, all she could think was, Who does this redhead bwoy tink he is? And she told him as much.
Marilyn, looking like she was trying to shake a memory of times long passed, turned toward her daughter. “Sydnee,” she said hesitantly.
“Yes Mommy, what is it? You know I have to get home and get some rest. I have work and class tomorrow.”
Marilyn kissed her teeth. “Steups. I know…just listen. I wanted to wait until yuh were done this semester a school to tell yuh…but yuh know I retire in April, right? I am thinking to move down Ft. Lauderdale with your Auntie Catherine. She need help taking care of Gran’ma and the cold up ‘ere a go kill me. We are not built for dis weatha.”
Sydnee put the car into park and took her foot off the brake. She looked at her mother. “Mommy…that’s great but…what about the house, church, and all of your friends?” Sydnee knew none of that mattered. The house was paid for and Marilyn didn’t love her friends as much as she loved God and, as she always said, she could worship God anywhere. But the feeling in the pit of Sydnee’s stomach overpowered any reasonable thoughts coming to her mind right then.
“Honey, there are churches everywhere and you will take care of the house for me. I’ve always wanted to go down Florida but you an’ Daniel needed me here. Now that I know Daniel have him mind set ‘pon staying in Atlanta, I think it’s time for me to go,” she replied, breaking in and out of her accent.
But what about me? Sydnee wanted to exclaim. Instead, she told her mother that, of course, she would take care of the house and that she knew Granny and Auntie Cathy would love having her down south with them. Sydnee listened to her mother gush about how much she was going to love the year-round sunshine in Florida. Then they said goodnight and Marilyn finally went into the house.
On her way to Clover’s, Sydnee could not dismiss the feeling of sadness that clung to her body. She didn’t know what was wrong with her. She was thirty-one years old and more than ready to live her life without her mother’s constant presence hovering over her. As much as Sydnee complained about having to be at Marilyn’s beck and call at a moment’s notice, and as much as her successes sometimes felt like they were more for her mother’s approval than they were for herself, one would think she would be elated to be released from all of that pressure. Instead, she felt panicked. She didn’t know a world without her mother only a drive away, and the thought of this new reality filled Sydnee with anxiety.
When she finally arrived at Clover’s apartment, Clover enveloped her in a hug that let her know just how much she had missed her too over the past few weeks. Clover wrapped Sydnee up in her warm, ample body for the rest of the night and Sydnee was able to temporarily peel away the gloom. She concentrated on giving Clover all of the attention she deserved for being the perfect antidote to her melancholy.
Sydnee cracked open the red skin of the ackee fruit and broke the flesh up inside the pan that was already simmering with coconut oil, peppers, tomatoes, and onions. She threw all of the seasonings her mother had painstakingly taught her to use in almost every Jamaican dish into the aromatic mixture. To her mother’s dismay, Sydnee preferred to be experimental with her cooking, adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that differently each time she made a meal. She stirred the contents of the pan and tasted the warm liquid to make sure it was just right–well-seasoned but not too salty because she hadn’t added the saltfish yet.
By the time Clover came into the kitchen, Sydnee was pouring the ackee and saltfish next to the freshly fried dumplings that were sitting in two orange ceramic plates. Clover insisted these dishes only be used at breakfast time because they were so bright and cheery. Sydnee loved how Clover tried to color coordinate every aspect of her life. That morning, Clover’s abundant locs were tied up in a green and red headscarf that allowed a few of the blonde tinged ends to dangle onto her face. She wore a green button-up nightshirt and her coffee brown legs were bare.
Sydnee smiled at Clover and hoped to herself that it would always be this way–easy and simple. “You’re up early. Isn’t today your day off? I was thinking I would have to wrap up your plate for later.”
“You know I can’t resist your cooking. The smell alone was all the alarm clock I needed.” Clover laughed as she came up behind Sydnee and embraced her, letting her lips brush the back of her neck playfully. Sydnee loved the way Clover made her feel safe, protected, and warm, but never smothered. When she was with her, she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. At the same time, the knowledge that she could leave today and not cause a rift in what they had, even if she became too involved in her own world for days, made her not want to change a thing.
Sydnee was not like her brother whose spontaneity allowed him to leave the only place he’d called home for a new life hundreds of miles away. She didn’t like change. Their father’s permanent disappearance from their lives reminded her that it was better to maintain the status quo. As a child, she didn’t know exactly what happened to her father. All she knew was that one day he was gone. As she got older, she heard her mother, aunt, and grandma whisper things like, Reddy nah leave well enough alone and No trouble trouble, until trouble trouble yuh, when talking about her father.
Sydnee knew what happened to her father was a result of him wanting too much, wanting different. She learned from her mother that there was a precise way of doing things, and if you didn’t stick to the plan, you could lose everything. Sydnee missed her father but couldn’t help but think that if he would have just been happy enough with the way things were, fate would have allowed him to stay with them in Brooklyn.
The next week, at work, Sydnee sent an email to the other paralegals instructing them to look over the notes from the McMillian case to prepare for their meeting that afternoon. She looked down at her phone and saw a missed call from her mother. They hadn’t spoken since last Wednesday when Sydnee picked her up from church. If she didn’t know any better, she would have thought that Marilyn might be stranded at church again, but because she didn’t also text her, she knew it couldn’t be that urgent. Sydnee promised herself she would call her mother back later.
But after work, Sydnee busied herself with her studies and didn’t find the time to call her mother. Later that night, as she was sound asleep on her couch, buried in case law books and what seemed like hundreds of sheets of outlines, she was startled awake by the sound of her phone buzzing. She groaned and looked at the glowing screen. It was her mother.
“Hello?” Sydnee croaked into the phone.
“Sydnee, yuh have me worried sick! Why yuh nuh answer me calls?”
Sydnee looked at the time: 10:07 p.m. “Mom! I am fine. I was studying for an exam and then I fell asleep. Why are you even up now?”
“Well, if yuh pick up de phone when I call yuh, yuh would know. Yuh brother is sending a friend wid a moving truck to de house this weeken fih carry some a me tings to Florida. The rest ah the tings I am packing away. Yuh need fih come tell me wah tings yuh wan keep.”
This was actually happening. But why was it happening this weekend? “Mommy, you are not retiring for another six months. What are you even talking about?”
“Do not snap at me, gyal! Do yuh know how long it will tek to get dis house ready fa yuh?”
“I have no idea, Mommy. Just leave it. Put away whatever you need to put away. I have most of my own things for the house.” Sydnee didn’t understand why her mother always insisted on being over-prepared for everything.
“Fine. I was just trying to help you. Go back an’ study.” Marilyn, probably sensing her daughter’s disoriented frustration, seemed to calmed herself down.
“I’m sorry for snapping at you, Mommy, but I’m tired. I’m going back to bed, you should go to bed too. The house will be fine.”
“Alright. Answer me when I call next time.”
Sydnee hung up the phone and took note of how eager her mother must be to move to sunny Florida, otherwise, why would she be getting the house in order so soon?
When Sydnee was a little girl, after church, if the weather was nice, Marilyn would take her and Daniel to the park by their grandmother’s house to play while Granny finished cooking Sunday dinner. Sydnee loved those afternoons because it was one of the only times her mother would relax and play with them as if she was taking a break from being Mommy for just one moment. The trio would climb onto the swings and see who could swing the highest. Sydnee remembered going so high that the sun blazed onto her face and she couldn’t see anything but its bright yellow glow.
She could hear her mother laugh and laugh as they went higher and higher. “I’m winning!” she would proclaim. This made Sydnee and her brother squeal with laughter. Soon, they were all laughing so hard that they couldn’t pump their legs any longer and all their momentum was lost.
They slowed down to a gentle sway, back and forth, as they caught their breaths. Then Marilyn would hop out of her swing, take her children’s hands, and wordlessly walk them to their grandma’s house so they could wash up for dinner. Sydnee knew playtime was over and she would never be too sure when it would come around again. So, she held on tightly to those moments in her mind for as long as she could.
Sydnee brought herself back to the present and relocated from the couch to her bedroom so she could get proper sleep. She lay in bed trying to figure out how she was going to manage being in Brooklyn all on her own.
Sydnee walked out of her class on Thursday night, stepping on crackling branches on the wet pavement as she headed to her car. She knew she had aced her torts exam, especially the essay question about the child who was running through the supermarket despite the “Caution – Wet Floor” signs and slipped and fell, sustaining multiple injuries. Working for a personal injury law firm certainly had its perks. Sydnee released her long braids out of the immaculate ponytail that she reserved for school and work, and let out a sigh of relief. She felt like celebrating.
As the days passed since her mother announced that she would be migrating down south, she had begun to acclimate to the idea of what would be her new normal. She would graduate from law school in May and she was this close to getting confirmation on an associate position at her firm. Maybe her mother leaving was what she needed to fully embrace the next stage in her life. Maybe she would even think about actually settling down with someone.
Clover appeared in Sydnee’s mind and she smiled at the memory of the last time they saw each other. She did appreciate the way things were, but if she had to choose someone to give the relationship thing a try with, it would be Clover. Maybe this freedom from her mother was exactly the change she needed.
Still feeling the high of acing her test, Sydnee called her friend Tori and asked her to meet her at the bar down the street from her apartment. Brown’s Bar & Lounge wasn’t a fancy place but it had a great Thursday evening Happy Hour until midnight. Plus, she hadn’t seen Tori in ages. They were childhood friends and Tori had recently moved back to Brooklyn from Connecticut after her marriage ended. As a childless divorcée, she had a lot more time on her hands now than Sydnee did, and it had been hard for them to catch up.
Thirty minutes later, after driving from downtown Brooklyn back to Crown Heights, Sydnee arrived at Brown’s. She walked into the bar and was greeted by the sound of reggae music playing, which immediately lightened her steps. She couldn’t resist dancing and wining her waist anytime she heard reggae or soca. The impulse to move her body to the beat was in her bones. She spotted Tori at the bar and was pleased to see two freshly mixed rum punches sitting in front of her.
They embraced and Sydnee sat down next to her friend. They picked up their glasses and made a toast to “rum punch and old friends.”
Two drinks later, Tori and Sydnee had filled each other in on all the new developments in their lives. Sydnee told Tori about her mother moving to Florida and Tori, no doubt remembering what a helicopter mom Marilyn was, reassured Sydney the way only a true friend could.
“Everything is going to be fine. The change will be beneficial for both of you. You’ll see. Next year this time, you will be in the middle of decorating the house you inherited.” Tori paused. “Girl, the fact that you don’t see the blessing in that is wild! Anyway, you’ll probably also be shacking up with someone who is going to end up being the love of your life. You will look back on this moment and say, ‘Boy, was I lame back then.’”
Sydnee laughed, so happy that she was finally able to talk to someone about all this.
“See, that’s why you’re my girl. You always know how to set me straight. I was messed up about it for a little bit, but now I think I’ll be okay. Plus, funny you should say ‘love of my life…’” Sydnee stopped and gave Tori a sly smile. “There’s this girl I’ve kinda been seeing. Things have been super chill with us but she’s really cool, good head on her shoulders, and beautiful, of course. I’m thinking I might want to see where it goes with her.”
“What?! Sydnee, you have been on that same ‘no time for a relationship’ stuff since we were in high school. What’s different now? Is it because your mom won’t be around to see who you’re dating?”
“No. You know I never hid being into women from my mom…well, not since after she found my love letter to Cassandra in eleventh grade,” Sydnee said, now being able to laugh at the 15-year-old memory. “It’s just that life has been so busy.”
“Syd, you never bring any of the girls you date around. To your friends, to your mom, no one. Life couldn’t have been that busy for the past decade.”
Sydnee shrugged, “It was. I mean, okay so mom wasn’t as open to me dating women as I would have liked, but she’s Jamaican and more Christian than Jesus himself. The fact that she didn’t disown me was enough. I didn’t want to rock the boat.”
“That’s no reason not to share your life with someone though. Sometimes it’s good to take a risk. Shit, why am I even talking? Look what happened to me when I took a risk.” Tori took a big sip of her drink and groaned.
Sydnee placed her hand on Tori’s shoulder. “That wasn’t your fault, Tor. It was that fool who decided to throw your marriage away. But you’re right, it’s okay to take risks sometimes. We just have to choose the right people to ‘bother to trouble ourselves with,’” Sydnee joked, borrowing a phrase from her mother to try and lighten the mood for her friend.
“Cheers to that!”
Just as Tori was ordering the last round before Happy Hour ended, Sydnee heard a familiar, colorful laugh. She turned in the direction of the melodic voice and spotted Clover walking into the bar hand-in-hand with a tall, Guyanese woman with androgynous good looks. Sydnee and Clover locked eyes and Clover quickly dropped the woman’s hand. Sydnee swiftly turned away from her and back toward Tori.
“So, don’t look now, but the girl I was talking about just walked in–with someone else. I gotta go outside and get some air.”
Sydnee rushed out the rear door of the bar before Tori could respond.
Outside, Sydnee stood leaning on the building feeling emotionally paralyzed. Too many things in her life were changing without the decency of asking her how she felt about it. How was it possible that she so carefully aligned and created every aspect of what she thought was a stable existence, yet reality was confronting her with so much turmoil?
Minutes ago, Sydnee had reconciled with the idea that her mother was leaving and everything would be just fine. Who was she kidding? With her mother gone, she would be completely lost–she’d never been on her own like this before. First, her father left, then her brother, now her mother. Although she knew her family loved her the best way they could, she couldn’t stop the feeling of resentment from bubbling to the surface and swallowing all that she thought she knew to be true.
Sydnee felt sick to her stomach as she realized how much her acquiescence with her mother moving had to do with presuming that Clover would simply and inevitably be in her life. For good. She’d never even asked Clover. Despite this, it was Sydnee who was crying alone on the side of the building, as if she wasn’t the one who was wrong for assuming Clover could mend all the hurt inside of her, and that she would even want to.
Sydnee felt humiliated and completely ashamed. She leaned against the wall and fought back more tears. She had to pull it together. But there was no time to figure out how to do that, because as soon as she was able to catch her breath, Clover appeared. She was wearing jeans and Sydnee’s favorite bright teal wrap blouse. Clover stood against the wall beside her and they both stood in silence.
Sydnee knew logically that she had no reason to be upset. She and Clover were not in a relationship and had never discussed the future of one. But she didn’t imagine that Clover would be seeing other people, because she wasn’t seeing anyone else. But again, Sydney was coming to grips with how many things she had blindly assumed lately.
“Syd, I don’t know what to say. I have this guilty impulse to say ‘I’m sorry’ but I don’t know. You always insisted that what we have is perfect because we don’t have a commitment to complicate things. But, I am sorry you had to see me out with someone else.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry too. It’s cool, you don’t owe me an apology or an explanation. I’m just not in a great place because I have a lot going on.” Sydnee replied, trying to hide her embarrassment.
A look of concern crossed Clover’s face. “Like what?”
“School, exams, work deadlines…” Sydnee began vaguely but then felt she should at least try to be more honest. After all, she had nothing to lose. “Plus, my mom is moving down south in a few months. I’m still adjusting to the news.”
“Wow. That’s definitely an adjustment. I know you and your mom are close. Why didn’t you tell me that before, though?”
“I didn’t want to burden you. That’s not your responsibility. We’re not in a relationship.”
“That’s true. I never pressed for us to be anything more or for you to confide in me. To be honest, things were so good between us and I knew that our time together was like a moment of peace for you…so, I wanted to give you your privacy. But deep down I always held out hope that you would open up to me one day.”
Sydnee looked at the ground, unsure of how to say all of the things that were on her mind.
Clover continued. “I thought maybe your family had something to do with why you wanted to keep things casual. But I guess I should have asked.”
“No. I should have been more open with you. But, it’s really fine. I get it, you had to live your life.” Sydnee felt the pain of everything crumbling within herself, piece by piece. A tear fought its way down Sydnee’s cheek and Clover gently wiped it away, making Sydnee’s chest ache even more. “Your date is probably wondering where you are.”
Clover began to say something but then appeared to think better of it. “Yeah, I should probably get back in there. Do you think we can get together and talk sometime this weekend?”
“Sure.” Sydnee forced a small smile but knew it was a lie. She was not ready to confront her shortcomings just yet. She had simply been trying to adjust to what would be her new life and it wasn’t working out as planned. She didn’t need a conversation that would only be a reminder of her failure.
That weekend, Sydnee helped her mother organize everything in the house; separating what would go into storage, what would go to Florida, and what would stay in the house for when she moved in. She was secretly proud of her mother for being willing to let go of both of her children, even though it hurt that she was leaving.
As she packed away the belongings in her childhood bedroom, she came across a letter from her father.
I know you are very busy with school and that’s why you haven’t had time to write. I am so proud of you. I can’t wait until you can come visit Jamaica and tell me all about your college classes. All your family over here is excited to meet you, especially your little brother and sister. I want you to know that I love you and I always will. Keep up the good work and remember, nothing beats a trial but a failure.
Sydnee remembered the first time her father said those words to her, ‘Nothing beats a trial but a failure.’ Her second-grade teacher had recommended her to a school in the city because she was excelling in all of her classes. Sydnee was terrified because she didn’t want to be bussed out to the new private school away from all her friends and her big brother.
She told her father that she thought she might not pass the entrance exam so she didn’t want to take it. This was not the kind of thing that she could ever discuss with her mother, but Harold had a more unconventional parenting style than Marilyn and this was something both the children knew. Her father was much quicker to let his children do what they felt comfortable doing and not what was expected of them. But this time, Sydnee’s father insisted that she take the test. “If you get in, great! If you don’t, that’s fine too. But nutt’n beat a trial but a failure.”
Still, Sydnee gave him argument after argument as to why she should not take the test, something that she could never do with her mother, and Harold shot them down one by one. After she took the test and aced it with flying colors, Harold joked with Sydnee that she should be a lawyer because she put up a pretty good fight against taking that test. Even though she had lost that battle, the sense of pride she felt exuding from her father made her feel invincible.
She reflected on how different her life would be if her father were still there with them. Would her brother have stayed in Brooklyn? Would her mother still want to leave Brooklyn? Would both her mother and father be leaving for Florida now? Sydnee knew none of it really mattered. She folded the letter back up into a tiny square and stuffed it into her purse.
After what felt like an eternity of freezing temperatures, snow, and months of heavy rainfall that seemed like it could wash away all of New York, lush green grass was beginning to sprout up in ways no one would expect life to grow in the middle of a city. The runners, dog walkers, and baby strollers were slowly starting to litter the parks and parkways of Brooklyn again. Spring was breaking through with a vengeance.
Sydnee, feeling a bit of reprieve from the rough winter she had had, was in the process of settling into the house she grew up in. Everything was different from when she first lived there. Her brother was gone, her mother was gone now too, and her father had been gone for so long, she could barely remember a time when he was there. She looked around the almost unrecognizable, unfurnished living room at its freshly painted walls. She and Clover had painted them blue last weekend before moving in the rest of their things the day before.
There were no more baby pictures of Sydnee, her brother, and their various cousins, and no more black and white portraits of Granny and her siblings. Her mother’s collectibles and knick-knacks that used to be meticulously placed around the living room were all gone, as were the plastic-covered, bulging couches her mother had refused to get rid of even when Sydnee and Daniel insisted that she should. Replacing the nostalgia were boxes containing the belongings of two young women embarking on an unknown journey together. But those boxes, as many as there were, were no match for Sydnee’s vibrant memories.
When Sydnee dropped off her mother at the airport on a brilliantly unclouded morning last week, she wept. Not only because she was saying goodbye for what would be the longest they’d ever be away from each other, but because she knew how hard it was for Marilyn to accept that she was leaving her youngest child to start a new life without her there to oversee it.
Sydnee hoped that Marilyn realized there was no amount of carefully curated parenting that could ensure that her daughter’s life would be perfect. She hoped that leaving her was Marilyn’s acknowledgment she believed it was okay Sydnee didn’t know exactly what direction her life was going, and maybe she didn’t know what was best for her just because she was her mother. As devastated as she was about their separation, Sydnee needed Marilyn to let go and allow her the opportunity to try and possibly fail.
As Sydnee watched planes lift up into the sky from the highway where she had pulled over to collect herself, she thought about her father. She wondered if he had considered her, her mother, and brother when he decided to not “leave well enough alone” and to “trouble trouble.” She wondered if he’d known that everything was going to be okay. She pulled out his letter from her purse and traced the words with her fingers, repeating to herself.
“Nothing beats a trial but a failure.”
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