374: La Familia
A family portrait. A woman and a man standing with their hands rested lovingly in the crooks of their children’s shoulders, a pair of innocently beautiful siblings: a handsome little boy and his older sister, a blossoming, very attractive girl.
They seem like a happy family at first glance. The woman and her husband smile as their children laugh for the photo. The flash glows in each of their sparkling dark eyes. Lucky for them, no red showed up in the pupils. The wedded couple’s perfect porcelain teeth outshine the crooked baby teeth of their children. The woman’s sable hair is curled, brushes the tops of her breasts. The man’s equally raven-coloured hair is shiny, waxed to perfection on the morning of the shoot. The woman’s white dress, a bridal gown, a gift from a dear friend. The man’s tuxedo with a little black bow-tie, the best man’s gift for the groom. The little girl is dressed in her favourite floral print dress with a large ribbon adorning her waist, her hair pulled gently into long pigtails on the sides of her head. She wears a little jade rabbit necklace, a gift from her father. The little boy dressed in a little tux of his own, just to match his father. Their happiness, immortalised in a single second. Time wouldn’t be able to tarnish the memories or the moments contained in this single photograph for a while. They were protected by time, and preventing time from ravaging it.
The woman blew up the family portrait, framed it with an ornate gold-plated border and hung it above the bed she shared with her husband so that when she woke up in the morning and turned around, she would see her family, their smiling faces, be reminded of the happiness that the family had together.
When they filed for divorce and promised each other it was a mutual decision and that they had to think of the kids, she wondered if she was mocking the institution of marriage. ‘Til death do us part, if death were her husband having a passionate love affair that outshone their courtship and marriage. She requested to keep the family portrait, the children wanted to live with each parent on a weekly basis, and he requested that he be given the honours to destroy the photograph. The happiness that had tied them together. He had ruined that with the other woman. She had ruined it by focusing too much on her career and the children. Indeed, she was mocking the institution of marriage. Marriage had never been easy for anyone. They were supposed to make it work. At first, she agreed with him, that he destroy the portrait, internally of course, that she agreed. But she longed for that same happiness, the very thing that kept her loving her husband and her children. She was left with a bitter taste in her mouth by her mother-in-law. The criticism, the hate letters, the bruises. She went to work at the dental clinic everyday with concealer hiding the steep, unnatural purples bleeding into her cheek. She smiled even though the pain brought tears to her eyes. She kept the happiness in her clinic, smiled for her patients and brought them their happiness even if they were unaware of her own spiral into depression. Such was the life of the woman. Where was that letter she had written to her husband as a teenager? The letter containing a version of her last will and testament, numerous empty threats to commit suicide, leave him for another man even though no other man had been romantically interested in her since she was eighteen other than her now ex-husband…she needed to follow through. She left the clinic to her children. It wouldn’t matter if they didn’t want to be dentists when they grew up. They could always sell it, her life’s work, it would become someone else’s legacy. She was fine with that. She would leave her husband the portrait, her letter to him that she kept from him all these years, a letter to the other woman, letters to her children, a lone letter to her in-laws, a heartfelt letter to her own parents.
I could have been a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter, a better daughter-in-law. We could have all been better. I didn’t do my best when it was needed, but I did do something. In my final moments, I know I will have done my best. Everything will be as it should have been if you let time heal it.
To my children, mummy loves you. Mummy really loved your daddy too, but daddy now loves another. Mummy will always love you.
To my husband, I love you. I still do. If only we could have what we had when we were eighteen.
Families are tricky. Every family has a history, secrets, drama. Marrying into another family is also tricky. But what would I know about that, I’m just writing about things that will probably never happen, haha. It’s challenging to think about.