It’s Hard to Leave

Last minute wobble. Jack was sitting on top of five open suitcases. Not empty yet. Not far off being empty though.

’Let’s just take my stuff out.’

I stared at him. ‘Once you do, the decision’s final.’

He returned my look. Classic Jack, wide-eyed, confused look. ‘I don’t know what I did was so wrong. All I did was ask her if she was ok.’

‘Over and over again? And then when she gets triggered, you really don’t see it? Then you take her phone away – on the last night before we’re going? How were you expecting that to go well?’

He shrugged. ‘I didn’t like the way she was talking to Delphine. I didn’t like the names she was calling her.’

’She wasn’t calling her any names then.’

‘She’s called them her in the past. I was just waiting for the name calling to start again.’

‘So you discipled her on the basis she might do it again?’

The eyes got wider.

I took a deep breath. ’Look, you can’t treat her like you’re doing her a favour. She’s been honest with us – she’s always said she’d prefer not to go.’ 

‘I’ll go on my own then. Just help me take out what I need.’

Five perfectly packed suitcases. I was starting to feel like our suitcases each had personalities and names. 

‘I think what you really need to do is listen. Go upstairs and listen to her.’

So he did. He left my mum’s garage and went back into the house. I waited. Less than five minutes later, I could hear Lulu shouting again. He reappeared. 

‘She’s locked herself in the bathroom again.’

‘Did you listen to her?’

Nod. ‘I was just telling her how I felt when she started freaking out.’

’So you didn’t listen.’

Return of the wide-eyed, confused look. ‘I could just go on my own. It’s not too late.’

I processed it. Planes and cars sorted. Internet school paid for. Months of preparation. ’You should have thought of that when we booked the tickets. Right now you need to go upstairs and listen to your daughter. This time don’t talk. Just listen.’

And I can tell you dear reader, he did it. I joined him minutes later. They were sitting in bed together. And Delph. But she was on her iPad. 

‘I wish I was an adventurous quirky kid,’ Lu was saying, ‘the one with very little friends who just wanted to go and do cool stuff.’

I tried not to smile.

’I wish we weren’t taking you from your friends,’ Jack replied softly. ‘If there was any other way, if we could leave you with anybody else and know you’d be safe.’

’What if I lived on my own and had Vronnie’s supervision? She could just come and check on me.’

Jack and I looked at each. ‘Yeah that’s really going to work, Lu.’ Too tall an order for us not to deliver sarcasm.

Lulu shrugged. ‘Ok. You guys know what I mean.’

Yeah, we know. It’s hard to leave the people you love. 

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