I’m no stranger to the looks shared between JJ and Lacey, they’ve been together now for almost five years. I know what they are thinking. I know they know what today is and it’s evident as they look at me across the table,chugging back a Miller lite.
“What?” I ask finally unable to stand it.
“Are you ok?” Lacey finally says before my agitation gets the better of me.
“Sure, tip top lace,” I answer with my best smile.
“You are so full of shit, Lucy,” JJ says seriously.
I don’t respond and eventually conversation picks up and the moment is forgotten. How many times can we have the same conversation anyways. While today is a little different, it’s been two years of that question, two years of the looks and the concern. I know they were with him earlier, Lacey told me they were getting fitted today and it takes everything in me to not ask about him. Not to ask how he looked, how he seemed, if he brought someone with him, is he bringing a date, did he smile, did he look as miserable as I feel? Sometimes the torture of not knowing is just as bad as when they inadvertently talk about him.
Lacey gets up and heads to the ladies room and when she’s gone her phone lights up with a text. My eyes dart to the screen as the light catches them and I nearly choke when I see the background image. His hair is longer, kind of shaggy,and while there is a smile on his face it’s forced. My throat starts to close up when I see the dip in the line of men on her screen and it pulls at my heart, somewhere deep down I know it’s the reality but in my mind’s eye I still imagine him differently. It knocks the wind out of me each time I see it. The small amount of time we had right before it ended wasn’t enough to knock out all the other memories of him. JJ catches me staring at the image long after the screen goes dark and takes my hand, “I’m sorry, I’ll have her change it.”
“No, she’s excited,” I respond.
“I know this is hard for you Lucy. He’s doing okay you know, I mean if you wanted to know,” he offers.
I choke back tears, “I know…”
I get up quickly as Lacey returns and head into the bathroom. I don’t want to lose my shit right this moment but the sight of him, just that little glimpse of him is crushing. I need to take a minute. I need to remind myself why I left that day. The three beers I’ve had are clouding my mind. What was it again that was so terrible I couldn’t pull us together to get through? Oh right, the piece of shit secretary at his firm, the blonde Barbie wannabe who seduced my husband at his lowest. My insides turn over when I allow myself even the slightest thought of her and him. Of all the things he could have done to me he chose that. Secretly I think he did it on purpose. I’ve never mentioned that to anyone not even Lacey, though I think she suspects it was the case.
“Lucy? You okay?” I hear my sister’s voice echo off the bathroom walls.
“Yeah, I was feeling a little queasy, thought it best to hang here for a minute, I reply hoping the waterproof mascara has done its job.
“You want to leave?” she asks softly outside the stall door.
“No, I just needed a minute…” I say.
I rejoin them after a few more minutes and I can tell they’ve been debating on what to say. I look at them, so happy in their lives and part of me hates them. I knew this was coming. I knew the minute they announced their engagement a year and a half ago that as happy as I was for my little sister, a part of me hated her. Hate isn’t really the best word to describe it maybe, jealousy? Sure that’s a better word. Jealous of what her future holds, jealous of the love they share, jealous that she’s getting the possibility of the whole word with JJ and mine has vanished. I’m a horrible person, no strike that, I’m a good person who got a raw deal.
“You about ready to call it a night Lucy?” JJ asks after my sixth beer.
“Whenever you are geeves,” I reply wondering if the slurring is noticeable.
“I’d say we are ready,” he chuckles.
“Lead the way, princess,” yep the slurring is definitely noticeable, I think after I say it.
I’m not a lightweight, well maybe now I am. I used to be able to keep up with Jack and JJ all night long in a bar but that hasn’t happened in years. My sister on the other hand is tipping here and there in those skyscraper heels she’s wearing. She could never hold her alcohol. Thank god for JJ, I think to myself as we make our way out to his truck, he hasn’t drank since. There goes my mind again, falling back to the deep dark. I have to stop doing this to myself. I have to stop letting those thoughts creep into my mind.
Lacey remains quiet on our ride home and as they drop me off she hugs me a little tighter than normal. We’ve had our ups and downs as sisters go, but over the last few years we’ve really become best friends. I never thought it would happen, I couldn’t stand her when we were younger and through most of my early twenties, but when I needed someone most, it was her that was by my side and never left. She knows my deepest secret, well her and only one other person, JJ. I would never have chosen to purposely tell him, I can’t believe he’s never told Jack. It just kind of happened one night three weeks after that damning phone call.
“Lucy, you have to tell him. He has to know, especially now…” Lacey prodded me.
“I won’t. He will think that because of… that it was his fault. That is the last thing he needs right now,” I shot back, not realizing that JJ had joined us in the waiting room.
“He would want to know that you were pregnant, that you lost the baby Luce,” she said softly, pulling me to her.
“What?” JJ said, his voice loud in the quiet room.
I stood and faced him, “You will never tell him. NEVER. Do you hear me? It would kill him if he found out now…”
“You need to tell him Luce,” he said, his face twisted in confusion.
“I will not tell him, and neither will you two. Isn’t it enough? What he’s going through now? If you think for one second that everything in me doesn’t want to rush in there and tell him you are wrong. I know what it would do to him JJ. He is fragile enough right now, this would surely push him over the edge…” I said forcefully.
“But Luce,” Lacey started but then saw the look on my face.
“We will never talk about it again, do you hear me?” I scolded them both before turning on my heel and walking away.
I’ve come to think of my life in terms of before the call and after the call because everything changed that night. Everything. I had found out that morning about the baby, and immediately my mind went to the happiest place, I couldn’t wait to start our family. I began thinking up cute ways to tell him as soon as I left the doctor’s office. In my mind I had begun to dream of what the nursery would look like, what we would look like together, the three of us. I never imagined that not twenty four hours later our world would come crashing down around us.
Before that call he was caring, strong, loving, and happy all the time. After, well, it wasn’t the man I married, he was lost, he was mean and he had all but disappeared. The first few weeks I tried everything, and nothing worked to bring him around, I partly didn’t expect it too but then I lost the baby. It took me three days before I could force myself to go see him. Three days I held onto that, wishing only for his comfort. I thought about telling him, every part of me wanted to tell him but my head finally won out thinking that it would make everything worse. Our dreams were shattered with that call and something told me that life would never be the same.
I couldn’t focus all of my energy on him in those first few days after finding out I was no longer pregnant. I was drowning in the loss, and the person I would normally have gone to was missing. I turned to Lacey, I needed someone and she was the first person I could think to call. She held me for hours that day as I wept, for the life of our baby, for everything really. She listened as I told her about how I was going to tell him and why I hadn’t told him yet. She never once judged my choice. When I begged her not to tell JJ she understood, she knew that he wouldn’t be able to keep it from his best friend.
I don’t know if it was my inability to see past the present in those first few weeks or if it was his but we both changed. Deep change that neither of us could reveal to the other. It didn’t matter that I put on a brave facade for him, he knew something was different, he knew me that well. I didn’t try to convince him that what happened to him wasn’t part of it either. I let him think, in his worst days that I couldn’t deal. Looking back I don’t know if I would have done things differently, though I think I could have. Instead I sit here on my wedding anniversary a six pack in, wondering what life would have been like if he had stayed home that night. Wondering if it would have mattered if I told him before I lost the baby, or if it would have changed things if I told him after. To add to my disaster of an evening something inside of me decides that it would be a good idea to watch our wedding DVD. No one should ever, and I mean ever do this to themselves, but hey I like a good cry just like the next girl.