Entry 23: Donna Leaves: Sunday July 31
I slept on the couch last night. I was almost scared to go into the bedroom and sleep. After she had gone back to bed, I had put the dress back in the duffel and thrown it in the hall closet to rest in the back, out of sight. Maybe I should just take it back to where I found it. Maybe I’ll do just that.
To my surprise, Donna went to church with me this morning. We sat in the back. I saw Roger Blaine a couple of rows ahead of me. While we were singing hymns, he turned around and gave me a little nod and smile.
After the service, as Donna and I were on the way out, he came up to me. “Well, there’s the guy I thought was trouble,” he joked.
“Yep, that’s me,” I grinned. We shook hands.
“Roger, this is my wife Donna. Donna, Roger Blaine.”
She gave him a smile, with a little “pleased to meet you”, and he returned the greeting.
Then I got brave. “Roger, which hospital is Tommy in?”
He stopped for a moment, looked around as if he was nervous that someone had heard me ask the question. Finally he answered.
“Gunther Ridge State Hospital. They won’t let you in though. Only family.”
“Okay, thanks,” I nodded. “Well, look we have to go. Nice seeing you again.”
He nodded. “Likewise”.
Donna and I left. We were almost down the front steps of the church when Roger called out behind me. “Hey Paul, wait up.”
We stopped as he caught up to us. I noticed he had something in his hand. It looked to be like a credit card or something.
“I don’t use this. If you really want to see him, maybe it will help.”
He handed me the card and I saw it was a hospital pass with his name on it. “Now they may ID you, so I don’t know how far you’ll get, but hey, like I said, I don’t use it. You can tell him hi for me if you make it in.”
“Thanks,” I said, taking the card, and putting it in my pocket.
I turned around to Donna, but she was gone. She was walking across the parking lot to home. “Well, I better go,” I told him and sprinted after my wife.
When I caught up to her, I was pretending to pant and be tired from the run. The joke was lost on her though. “Hey wait up, hon. Why did you walk off?”
“I just felt like I was in the way,” she replied.
“Honey, you are never in the way.”
She didn’t say anything, but I could tell she was trying to find the words she wanted to say. We left the parking lot and stepped into the yard.
“Donna, I am really sorry about last night,” I apologized.
“It’s not just last night, Paul. You are distracted and occupied with things and people that don’t include me.”
“I can quit my job,” I suggested. “We can go back. We can leave here.”
She looked at me. “You’re just saying that for me. You don’t really want to go. You don’t want to leave…her.” That last word hung in the air between us, and I didn’t know what to say, because as cruel as it sounds, she was right. I didn’t want to leave Mischa’s ghost behind. I was wrapped up in something that I needed to see through to the end, and I was having trouble choosing what I wanted more, my wife or a ghost. So Donna decided for me.
“I’m going home with mom and dad,” she finally said.
“Donna, you don’t have to go.”
“Yes I do. I’ll stay with mom and dad for a while. I’ll wait for you to decide what you want out of life.” And then she added, “But I won’t wait forever.”
“I want you,” I told her, but she wasn’t convinced.
“I don’t know what you want. But right now, it isn’t me.”
“Please don’t go,” I pleaded.
“You will do the right thing,” she replied. “I know you will do what is best for both of us.”
I don’t quite understand what she meant by that, but before I could ask her, a car pulled up into the yard behind us. It was her parents.
She left me standing there and walked over to the car. She leaned in and spoke to them, and I could feel all eyes upon me. I felt like the lowest man on earth. Finally, I just walked up on the porch and sat down in the swing.
Before too long, Jack and Sadie got out of the car. They walked across the yard to the porch. Donna wouldn’t even look at me when she came up the porch steps. Her mom gave me this glare that said, “I was right about you.” The ladies went in, but Jack stood at the doorway. Finally, he came around and sat down on the swing beside me.
After a moment of awkward silence, he spoke. “Paul, I know I’ve never really treated you as a member of the family. And I know sometimes couples have troubles that their parents shouldn’t get involved in, but I am a man first and father second. Men go through things women don’t always understand. Men and women are just different, I suppose. We don’t understand them, they don’t understand us.”
I wanted to get up and just walk away. This was the most uncomfortable in-law moment ever.
“What I’m trying to say is, if you need a man to talk to about men stuff, you can talk to me. It will stay between us.”
“Thank you Jack,” I said, just wishing he would leave me alone.
I think he caught the vibe, because he got up and walked around to the door. He opened it and got ready to go in.
“One more thing, Paul. I know you are going to come around. Us men folk always do when it comes to our women. But it would probably be best if you didn’t call or try to visit for a couple of days.”
They left later this afternoon. Though Sadie didn’t seem to approve, Donna hugged me goodbye, and kissed me on the cheek. I tried to give her a real kiss, but she put her finger to my lips to keep me from coming closer.
“Please don’t. I won’t want to leave.”
“I don’t want you to leave.”
She was fighting the tears. “I have to go.”
And then she was gone, in the car and spirited away by her parents. I said, “I love you” to the retreating car, instantly wishing I had said it more often, so she would have known.
I felt something brush against my leg, and I looked down. It was the mutt. I don’t know where he came from, but he was by my side now. I patted his head.
“Looks like it’s just you and me now, boy.”
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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.
Original text copyright 2007.
10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.