I found myself sitting in the squishy leather chair with a feeling of resignation.
I had just finished telling Dr. Sheehan about my choice to no longer include my mother in my life. She was supportive but I was still hung up on some things.
“She’s my mom. You’re not supposed to cut your mom out of your life.”
“Okay. But some people would argue that mothers are supposed to support and love their children. Your situation with your mother isn’t the average depiction of that. It’s okay to cut toxic people out of your life, Faith, even if they’re family. You have a right to be happy.”
I was overwhelmed with emotion and I wasn’t sure why. It seemed to come out of nowhere and then…
“But how? How do I be happy?”
I was tired. I was tired of not being happy and feeling so miserable all of the time.
“I’ve tried dating again, I’ve tried putting myself out th-”
“You won’t find happiness in a man or in sex or in dating.” Dr. Sheehan said, “That doesn’t work for anyone. You can’t rely on someone else to be your only reason to enjoy life.”
“Instead, spend time with your friends, get involved in their lives, spend time with them. Fostering those relationships, instead of romantic ones, will give you a much deeper sense of self and let you get in touch with who you are.”
“That sounds like I’m relying on my friends to give me a reason to enjoy life.” I pointed out with a little snark.
“Our friends often remind us of the people we want to be. In your case, your friends have been a tremendous support system, I can’t see a downside to getting more involved in their lives, and by default your own life. It’s easy to lose who we are when a romantic relationship is involved. Your friends already love you for who you are. Foster those relationships and the romantic ones will come…and be easier.”
I was skeptical but I was sick of feeling so despondent so I promised myself I would do what she recommended. We were quiet for a few beats.
“Have you decided what you want to do with it?” Dr. Sheehan asked.
My hand was sitting on my collarbone, fingering Mike’s engagement ring. I had put it on a chain because it felt weird to keep wearing on my finger but it didn’t feel right to stop wearing it.
“Yeah. I think I have.” I said and smiled a little.
It was windy and cloudy as I stared at the picture of Mike on his gravestone. The tombstone was a beautiful black marble inlaid with a picture of Mike at the fire house with Dolly. The epitaph was simple: “A beloved brother and friend.” I wiped a tear away and sniffled.
I turned around and saw Sarah standing there and I smiled. She joined me and held my hand while we stared at Mike’s grave. We were quiet for a long time as the wind whipped around us.
“Faith, I’m sorry about what happened at the funeral. I…I didn’t know what to do and you know Maggie, she-”
“It’s okay.” I said simply.
I handed Sarah a piece of paper, she read the writing on it and then looked up at me in confusion.
“That’s the name and phone number of your half-sister, Hailey. Mike had gotten in touch with her after your father died.”
Sarah took it all in.
“Hailey can explain. If you’d rather not, you don’t have to contact her.”
Hailey had gotten touch with me on Facebook after Mike died. We’d spoken a few times and I asked her if she would be okay with me giving her information to Sarah, she agreed.
“Why didn’t he tell me about her?”
This was a question I expected Sarah to ask but up until that moment I wasn’t sure how I wanted to answer it.
“I’m not sure.” I said.
I could’ve thrown Maggie under the bus, but I chose not to. I just wanted her out of my life and the last thing I needed was to have her call me in a rage because I told Sarah she didn’t want her to know about her half-sister. If Maggie wanted to expose that information about herself, she could make that decision.
Sarah looked down at the piece of paper with a face of contemplation, I pulled her into a hug.
“I’m sorry about Mike, Sarah.” I said.
“Me, too.” She said.
When we pulled apart I looked at Mike’s grave again.
“Sarah, what happened to Dolly?”
“She lives at the station, Tony takes care of her now. Maggie couldn’t find a place for her so she wanted to have her put down, but I called Tony and he said she could live at the station like she was meant to. I think the guys like having her there. She’s a reminder of him.”
“Mike would have wanted that.” I said smiling sadly.
I looked at Sarah and then reached into my pocket.
“Sarah…can you do me a favor?”
“Sure, anything…” She looked at me.
“I…I want you to have this.”
I held up a silver chain, at the end was the engagement ring Mike had given me.
“Oh…oh Faith, no. That’s yours, Mike wanted you to have that.”
“Sarah, listen….” I sighed, “Mike and I were having problems before he died. I don’t know if we would’ve worked them out, we both wanted to…but the truth is we never should’ve gotten engaged…at least not when we did. I want you to have it because it belongs in your family. I know how much you loved your mother and I think she’d want you to have this.”
I gently placed it over her head so it sat hanging around her neck. I smiled because it finally felt right, I’ve spent months trying to figure out what to do with that ring and nothing ever felt right until I saw it on Sarah. I breathe deeply and nodded.
“It looks good. It fits you.” I said.
Sarah stared at it and suddenly threw her arms around me. She was crying and thanking me.
“I promise I won’t ever tell Maggie you gave it to me. I’m going to treasure it and keep it safe.”
I pulled away and nodded and said good-bye to her. There was a sense of finality with seeing Sarah, I felt like the closure I’d been looking for had finally been achieved, I could finally move on from Mike and try to start being happy again.
I wonder if I remember what that feels like? It’s time to find out.