It’s another quest. A verbal reflex. Jack’s therapist told him this phrase a year ago. Everything will be ok. It was missing from our lives at the time. I don’t say ‘Jack’s therapist’ lightly. It took twenty whole years before he was ready. But boy, do I need to reap my gratitude. Nowadays, Jack’s therapist has joined our lives. Part of our family without even knowing it. Hiding in our hearts.
Some of this change is subtle. It’s there without being obvious. The freedom of letting go is incredibly powerful. This freedom isn’t just for Jack either. As a family we’ve built our own dynamic and, as I write this blog, I try more and more to document the wincey parts. Why? It’s my platform. Feelings, resentments, humour, love. All of it between the four of us.
Having been the only extant family member that regularly took the school bus, we turned again to Jack this morning.
‘Ten past eight,’ he said. ‘Start going outside a few minutes past.’
‘And where do they pick you up from?’
‘Just outside my dad’s house. That’s where I’d wait.’
So Lulu and I went out. Jack had gone up to North Wales already for work. I had to persuade Lulu to get out of the bathroom at 8am – the eye shadow was just coming out. I got a little vocal about it. Ahem. Got Lu to put on her new, all-black-including-the-stitching school shoes and off we went.
We live at the bottom of Jack’s dad driveway. This connects our bungalow to the main road. And as we closed the gate in the grey goose dawn, a big school bus was just pulling away. The big sigh of its doors closing. The engine revving to leave. Our bodies opened up into instant panic.
‘Lulu,’ I yelled, ‘run for it!’
We’ve taken a lot of strange buses over the last few years. From Florida to Trinidad, the Canary Islands to the hills of Galicia. We’ve run for them too. A whole family protocol for the bus we refused to miss.
Turned out I’d taught my kid pretty well. She ran down her grandfather’s driveway like an instinct. For a second, I actually feared what she might do. She banged on the side panels, got close to the huge bus wheels. The bus stopped, the doors opened and Lulu hopped on. I hung back at this point. A few moments later though, she stepped back off. To my horror the bus left again.
‘What happened?’ I asked Lu.
‘He told me this wasn’t the right bus for me.’
‘Where was he going?’
‘He didn’t say.’
I held my arms up. ‘But there were other school kids on that bus.’
Lulu shrugged. ‘I know. But he said it wasn’t mine. He said another bus was coming.’
I nervously checked my watch. Jack never spoke about another bus. Even if we got Delphine up and into the car, we were going to be late. Dammit. The dreaded late.
Lulu however began to chuckle. ‘I’ve never met that bus driver before, but it seemed like he knew me. He knew exactly what I had to do.’
Another bus did come a few minutes later. Literally seconds before it arrived, a tall skinny older kid came out of his house a few doors down. The bus sighed to a halt. Lu got on clutching her phone and the other kid got on. Without a moment of hesitation the bus steamed down the village. I watched the smoke puff out of its exhaust and swallowed down my tears. Jack’s therapist is our family.