I see you.
I see you in my mind’s eye. You’re in your early 20s and you have shoulder-length, flyaway, copper red hair. You’re skinny, wearing a bikini, with your feet in a little wading pool with a naked, redheaded toddler. The toddler is me. The sun is crowning over your head as I look up at your face and smile. I can feel the warmth from you and the sun.
I see you crying in your room. You’re in your 30s now. You’ve lost a lot of weight, even though you’re carrying more on your shoulders. Your hair still isn’t showing any sign of graying. The teenage me is sitting beside you on the bed and crying too. I don’t understand divorce, but I know it’s ripping us all to pieces. I love you more fiercely, but at the same time, resent you for making me go through this. Marriage isn’t that hard. He’s not that bad. Why are you doing this to me?
I see you coming into the church entranceway. You’re well into your 40s and still have brilliant copper hair, but now with hints of white. You’re wearing green; it’s your best color. Music starts at the front of the church as we walk through the doorway. We have a giggle as someone sneaks through the door and rushes to the seat in front of us. You take my arm and walk me down the aisle. I turn to my new husband and away from you.
I see you waiting at the front door as I arrive. You’re in your 50s now, and there’s more gray and a little more weight around your waist. It’s late. I feel a mist in the air as the clouds try to rain. You look worried. Flashing blue lights make a pattern across the front of the house and alternately put you in light and then shadow. I come to the door and pass you my son. I attempt to reassure you as the officer waits at the end of the driveway with my husband. You’re torn; you want to follow and support me, but I need you to keep my son safe. I walk down the driveway. When I’m done, I don’t go home with him. I stay with you. I understand now: Marriage is hard.
I see you in a green dress. We’re in an entrance hall again. You’re in your 60s, and the gray has successfully taken over the copper. You still look amazing. Green has always been your color. You collect my kids and give each of them one of my hands. You squeeze mine with your own and walk to the front of the room as the music starts. This time, my kids walk me down the aisle. You’re at the front, looking proud. I think you know I got it right this time. You wait until I get to the front and take the children’s hands. I turn toward my new husband, but not away from you.
I see a chubby redheaded toddler in a little wading pool. I feel the sun at the crown of my head. He smiles, and I feel his warmth. I’m in my 40s now. My hair is red and a little flyaway. It feels familiar and yet new. I wonder if he’ll remember. I look at my reflection in the window.
I see you.