Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 25: THE FAMILY WAY

      Noon came and went. Todd never showed up. She went downstairs to the lobby to watch for their car. No sign of it. Their appointment was set for twelve-thirty. She debated going upstairs to call Todd's cell phone and find out when he would arrive, but she had done that twice before when they were running late for something, and each time Todd had been pulling into the parking lot when she reached him. By the time she got downstairs again and climbed into the car, they would be officially late. She decided to simply wait.      At twelve-twenty, Lisa decided to get moving. Maybe Todd forgot he was supposed to pick her up, and she would find him waiting -- impatiently -- in Pastor Glenn's office. She stepped outside in the gusting, icy wind. Todd had made it clear he wasn't happy about going for counseling, and she didn't want to give him any excuse by her absence to turn around and leave at the last minute. She moved as fast as her new boots would allow, expending her nervous energy so the usual twenty-minute walk across the center of town to Tabor Christian Church only took ten minutes.      When she reached the church, there were few cars in the parking lot by the office door. Todd's car wasn't among them. Lisa settled down in the little waiting room outside Pastor Glenn's office and folded her hands and waited.      At quarter of one, Pastor Glenn and Dr. Harris both came out of their offices, looked at each other, then glanced into the waiting room where Lisa sat all alone.      "Lisa?" Pastor Glenn gave her that uncertain smile that always made her feel good. It told her he was human and didn't have all the answers, and wasn't about to judge her.      "I guess Todd's running late," Lisa said with a shrug. "Maybe we should get started without him?"      "Sorry, that's not... ethical," Dr. Harris said. She tugged a strand of silvery hair back into the tight crown of braids wrapped around the back of her head. "The worst thing we can do toward solving your marital problems is to talk to one spouse without the other one there to hear what's said. Marriages that might have been mended have dissolved because unethical or careless counselors appeared to side with one spouse against the other."      "Oh." She nodded. "I guess that makes sense."      Lisa walked home, though Pastor Glenn offered to drive her. She wasn't up to making small talk. She couldn't take the idea of his sympathy. Silence with someone she liked and trusted would be unbearable.      She found Todd's note that evening when she dropped her napkin at dinner and bent down to retrieve it. Lisa read it twice through. Nothing about missing the appointment. Nothing about being sorry. Nothing to indicate when he would get home. And there had been no message on her office answering machine from him, meaning he hadn't thought about her once all day.       What had happened to his habit of checking in with her, just to talk, every time he went out of town? She supposed that sweet habit had vanished about the time he decided she was carrying someone else's baby.      "Fine," she whispered, crumpling the note. "Don't bother coming home at all."      Lisa couldn't finish her dinner. She took the meal storage container to the sink, turned it over, and ran the disposal a long time.

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