Bruce disappears often. I have no idea, nor do I care anymore where he is and what he is doing.
I am working making minimum wage at the dollar store and having my paychecks taken from me every other week. I am trying to plan for Christmas, at least I have a roof over my head. My children are too young to know where we are and I am thankful for that. I am pretending that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Lying to my family about the “work” we are doing for the homeless.
The Marines come one day and deliver presents from Santa. I am grateful there will be something for Josh to open. He is just over 2. We are not allowed to have a Christmas tree or anything that plugs into the walls. They are afraid of a fire starting and taking out the row of apartments. I understand.
I have never been without a tree. Someone donates a wicker fan shaped like a spade (think deck of cards). I take it and decide to hang it upside down on my wall to mimic a tree. It kinda has the same shape. At the dollar store they have ornaments, so I buy five dollars worth of these horrible plastic glitter ornaments, red and blue. It’ll have to do. I have Josh help me hang them on the wicker tree I have converted. It looks pathetic.
I am mortified, I cry. It’s all I can do.
Christmas morning I put out the gifts from the Marines and a few things I have picked out from the dollar store. Josh isn’t any wiser. Bruce is not there. Laura is only 3 months old, she doesn’t have a clue. I am thankful everyday that they did not know how bad it was, how sad their mother was, how alone and ashamed I felt. I have never thrown those ornaments away and they go on my tree every single year to remind me of how far I have come.