I wish I had my mom’s wisdom! Or I wish that Riley had somehow had a chance to meet my mom. She could really use some of my mom’s special words of kindness right now.
Her heart’s broken, and I don’t know how to make it better.
Argus called her up for a date. They hadn’t been seeing each other much, and I’d been receiving these weird sort of come-on letters from Argus, so I assumed they’d broken up. But after he called, Riley said, no, they were still together.
She left for the date before I had a chance to tell her about Argus’s weird letters.
I could tell she was upset when she got home.
“How was the date?” I asked.
“We live in such a beautiful valley,” she replied. “The sunset was mystical.”
But when I saw the shadow behind her eyes, I figured she wasn’t telling me the whole story.
“And the date? Was it mystical, too?”
“If betrayal is mystical, then yes,” she replied.
“Oh, Riley! What happened?” I asked.
“Argus happened,” she replied.
I surmised that wasn’t a good thing.
“He’s a… he’s not for me,” Riley said. “He was with someone else when I got there. On our date. That he arranged. Did he want me to see him flirting with that woman?”
I wanted to give Riley a hug, but she was maintaining this boundary around her. I let her keep her space. In the quiet moment, she told me she’d been suspecting he was interested in other women. Now she knew.
I had to tell her about the letters he’d been sending me. I told her I figured they were random, signifying nothing. I told her I figured they weren’t serious about each other. I told her I threw them all away and didn’t make anything of it.
She said she didn’t want to talk about it. If she did, she’d say something she’d regret.
She’s been so quiet. She’s thinking, I can tell. All I can do is give her space for her thoughts and feelings. I tell her I’m here, if she ever wants to talk. She doesn’t even look at me. She just rocks and thinks. She’s not crying, but I can see she’s hurt.
She completely lost it with Bo. He was just being his usual goofy, mischievous, obnoxious self, and he was teasing her about having a broken heart, and she snapped. She accused him of being evil and of getting joy out of her sadness.
He tried apologizing, but she just yelled, “Get out of my face! I don’t want you anywhere near me!”
I felt torn. I don’t want anyone talking to my brother like that. And at the same time, I can’t stand that Riley feels so sad. I can’t blame her, and I can’t blame Bo, either. I want to blame Argus, but he and Riley had never agreed to be exclusive or anything. I ended up blaming myself. If I hadn’t gone to college and left Riley to take care of Bo and Patches… If I’d mentioned Argus’s letters sooner… If I’d been a better friend to Riley…
In the middle of my blame-fest, I heard a whisper:
Sometimes, life just gets messy, and it’s no one’s fault. It’s simply part of life.
I let the words settle into the quietness that spread through the house.
“Let’s hire a maid,” I suggested to Riley.
“What?” she said.
“You like a clean house. Let’s hire someone else to help us clean it.”
“But I clean it,” Riley said.
“And you could still clean it. But now you’d have someone else who could help out. It might be fun.”
“Would she clean the kitty litter?”
“If you wanted. You could be in charge, and you could be the one who delegated the tasks to her.”
“I wouldn’t want her to do anything she didn’t want to do,” Riley said.
“Of course not,” I said.
So we hired this really cute maid. Riley seems to like her a lot, and I notice that she perks up around ten o’clock each morning, which is when the maid is scheduled to arrive.
Usually, she cleans the house before the maid gets there. I put on a fresh pot of coffee, and Riley and our maid sit at the table and chat. When I hear them laughing, I realize that Riley will be OK.
Bo’s been on his best behavior, and he’s convinced Patches to go along with him.
I told him I was proud of him. He’s earned an A in school, and with his help, Patches has, too.
“You’re a good little brother,” I told him.
“Really?” he asked.
“Truly.” He’s my brother. He’s weird. He’s got a strange understanding of social behavior. But in spite of everything, he’s got a good heart.
Keep remembering that.