By K. Hecht, A. Hosack, & P. Berman
The Carsons haven’t said a word about Larry’s letter. But they look so sad. I have hurt them.
Claire is lying in bed trying to relax. After their ice cream, the Carsons had kissed Claire on the cheek like they always did, before going to their bedroom. But something had changed…for the worse. How could they have aged just to hear that she had kept in touch with Larry. They didn’t act angry at her. They didn’t tell her she was wrong. They just looked drained. Somehow as they walked away, they seemed to disappear more slowly into their room, as if each step for them was difficult to take.
It was proving very hard to fall asleep- Claire’s mind was so full of regret. After about twenty minutes, Claire remembered she didn’t just have to lay there not falling asleep. She got up and went to her diary where she kept track of her good and bad thoughts. She wrote down all her feelings of regret. She wrote down all the reasons why she had hidden her letters from the Carsons. She would show both lists to Dr. Berman and they would work together to find a solution. They would figure it out. They had too…
Claire went back to bed, fell asleep saying to herself, “I did the best I could at the time. It is over. New times are coming.” Claire fell into a deep sleep. She dreamed of next year when she would have figured everything out. In the dream she was bringing Davy to the front porch of the house and watching him walk confidently away to pick up the bus; he had said at breakfast that he was big now and didn’t need her to walk him to the bus stop. She stood there with pride, watching him until he got on the bus. He turned around, trusting she would be there, and waved. She waved back and then shut the door and went into the kitchen.
Mrs. Carson is there smiling. She is handing Claire her own packed lunch. Claire is working at the same dental office as Shelly. She is so happy there and earning enough money to really help the Carsons. They had been struggling financially since Mr. Carson fell off a ladder and hurt his leg. Now, he needed to hire other people to clean his gutters and do the lawn care and such. Claire has been able to give them half her pay check and this has more than taken care of all these expenses. The Carsons are so proud of Claire that she can help them now, when they need it.
Shelly is honking the horn of her car. Claire gives Mrs. Carson a hug and promises to go out during her lunch hour and bring back something special for tonight’s dessert. Mr. Carson needs cheering up- he is going to have to pay someone to fix the back porch today; his leg just doesn’t bend well enough for this type of work anymore- he hates having to depend on others for things he used to do himself.
Davy has been making them all so proud. Starting right after the accident, he spontaneously began helping Mr. Carson get dressed and undressed in the morning. He was standing there, ready to get the clothes Mr. Carson requested he take out of his dresser drawers first thing in the morning. He then waiting patiently for Mr. Carson to change and took all his dirty linen and placed them in the bathroom laundry basket. The first time he did this, Davy said to Mr. Carson, “we men have to stick together.”
At work, Claire walks confidently to her cubicle and looks around – remembering her first day. She had been so scared. Shelly had introduced her to everyone, and they had smiled at her; but still she was so nervous, still afraid she would be a waste of space in the office. She wanted so much to prove her worth. Everything went smoothly in the morning and she was even praised by the Dentist for her ability to get a squirmy five- year- old to let her clean his teeth.
During lunch, everyone would sit together in a big room the Dentist had for a copying machine, refrigerator, sink, and large round table. They would sit together and share stories about their kids and families. Her first day, Claire was nervous, but Shelly encouraged her to tell a funny story from the weekend before when their kids had played together. This made Claire feel part of the group- just for a while. After lunch, she went back to her desk to complete her paperwork, she felt bad to see how empty her cubicle was and how well decorated everyone else’s were; they had pictures of their families and all sorts of small decorations making their own spaces unique.
Claire went over to Shelly’s area, briefly feeling jealous that it was so beautifully done. Then, she became her own advocate. She felt bad her cubicle was empty, so she took a step to do something about it. She asked Shelly if she would take some pictures of her with Davy and the Carsons. Shelly loved the idea and the next weekend and taken all sorts of fun shots of them all sitting around the kitchen table, eating ice cream, and the grand finale- Claire and Davy jumping off the last step of the staircase.
Claire’s cubicle was now just as full of pictures as everyone else’s was. She also had a special picture Davy had painted for her as a Mother’s Day gift. Claire looked at all these special things whenever she felt stressed at work. Still at lunch, hearing about other people’s families, she still felt different from everyone – but she still fit in which was a big step for her. No one knew Claire was a foster kid. She hadn’t told anyone, and Shelly knew she wanted it kept private.
What would they think? Would they still like her? Would they still want their kids to play with Davy?
It was the anxiety these thoughts brought up that woke Claire up. No. She wanted to climb back into that dream. She wanted everything going well with Davy and the Carsons. She wanted that dream to be real. Suddenly Davy burst into the room with a smile, “wake up mommy it is time for me to get dressed.” At least this part was not a dream. She smiled down at her darling Davy and kissed him on the top of the head. He pulled her out of bed, and they got into their morning routine.
When they came down the stairs, the Carsons were sitting quietly at breakfast. “Why aren’t you talking?” Davy said. Mrs. Carson’s face got red. “It’s okay Davy,” the Carsons are helping me figure out a problem. It’s a big one so I am going to have Dr. Berman help me with it too.” “You are,” Mrs. Carson said quietly. Claire kissed her on the cheek and said, “yes, what you both told me yesterday is true. I can’t jump to any conclusions about that letter. The two of you don’t have to worry anymore; you can even open all my mail from now on if it will make you feel more secure that there are no more secrets.” “I’ll read your mail mommy!” (stunned pause) “I am sure you will someday Davy,” Claire said. Everyone laughed together and felt better.
Have you ever noticed that laughing can make you feel better, even when your situation is serious? To read more about the benefits of laughter consider reading the article below.