During car rides alone, Mom would speak freely letting us know what was on her mind. She told us about plans and ideas she had been conjuring. Vented to us of her feelings and frustrations and checked in with us to see how we had been holding up. More than anything, we would joke and imagine a life without Ian; usually somewhere on a tropical beach. We were reminded of the freedom his imprisonment had brought us during those 4 years. How his absence brought us a kind of happiness that we never had before. How that was the first time we had a glimpse of a different life. Now, we were forced back into his old ways we thought were long in the past.
She mentioned leaving him several times. When she did, Caleb and I greatly encouraged it. We reminded her of how strong she had been without him and how she was still just as strong now even with him home. We reminded her that she didn’t need him anymore. She had done everything without him before and she could do it without him now. It was a topic that usually went nowhere, but into hopes and dreams. Only imagination kept it alive.
Until over time, she continually brought up the topic more and more and in deeper detail. She began talking about locations; where would we go? She began talking about costs; how much does a moving truck cost? She began talking about timing; when would we leave? I was near my second year of high school with no desire to leave it. With us in mind, she agreed to keep us in the neighborhood as not to abrupt our entire lives.
She began telling us about the rules we would need to have if this were to work. To my utter surprise, she started prepping us.
- He couldn’t know anything about it. Not a single word– this was crucial. She stressed the importance on not blurting things out again–Monica! I was reminded of the Junior incident and how I had derailed Mom’s secret. I wouldn’t do that again. The hurt it brought to Mom had been marked on my heart.
- We were only to discuss the move when we were alone together. Not in the house. Not via phone, not via txt, nothing.
- Do not start packing. Boxes starting to gather would only derail the whole thing. Instead, Mom said she would start moving things little by little as to be as undetected as possible.
- Do not tell anyone. We couldn’t risk our friends mentioning anything if Ian was near. It would be difficult enough to keep our own mouths shut, telling anyone would only jeopardize the plan.
In all honesty, I wasn’t listening to much during the first few conversations. As much as I wanted to leave, I didn’t believe we were really going through with it. So, I ignored much of it at first believing the hype would eventually die off and we would just continue to deal with Ian like we had our whole life. However, weeks passed and the topic wasn’t dieing off. The hype wasn’t fading. In fact, it became stronger. Mom eventually snatched my full attention when she started telling us about the apartments she had looked at. One of which she was strongly considering.
With oozing excitement, she asked Caleb and I, “Do you guys want to see it? Junior has already seen it. He said he liked it!”
It finally clicked. We’re really doing this? We’re really leaving? Once I began to believe it, the thoughts overwhelmed me. I hadn’t given myself any time to process these hopes, dreams and wishes that were coming into reality. My mind spun as the thought sunk in; Ian would no longer be in our lives. Mom wasn’t just ‘venting’ anymore in casual conversation. She wasn’t wishing, daydreaming, hoping or praying anymore; she deflated all false hopes. Mom started organizing.
She started … planning.