One year since we left. One year.
The phone calls came within hours of each other. "Hi honey- the mental hospital is releasing me tomorrow. Could you come pick me up?" "Your dad's hearing is tomorrow. He's being freed and put on parole."
It took six hours to pack up everything that couldn't be replaced. My aunt and her boys, my grandmother and I worked like fiends, boxing and bagging and sorting, making piles of dishes and linens, one for me, one for the ex. The computer and dvd player were left behind; I frantically backed up all the baby photos and tucked the cds tenderly into my suitcase. My mother called and wanted to come fetch the broken washer; she wouldn't be put off until I explained that I was leaving, and even then she argued. I didn't even waste time giving one sentimental look around the place that I'd worked so hard to make a home. We tucked the last bag in the back of my overstuffed Jeep, strapped the baby into her carseat, and drove away.
It took less than an hour to drag boxes and bags into my grandmother's, our temporary home. We were getting to be professionals at this- we'd moved my sister in a similar fashion just months ago, ghosting her away in the night while dad was sure to be away for a few hours. I remember making everyone dinner at eleven o'clock- chicken curry and wild rice, something I'd promised them ages ago and never got around to doing. Grandma pressed a steaming cup of tea into my hands, and as I looked down, unseeing, the tears started to flow.