That January, mom called. "I'm coming home for a while."
Back to Georgia.
She'd said my grandmother needed help for a while, and that she and my step father were having problems that she hoped space would somehow solve. Which didn't come as any surprise since they'd been having problems long before there had been a marriage to blame them on.
"Does this mean y'all might move back to Georgia?" I was praying I was wrong.
"No, Ward will probably never leave Colorado."
I'm not sure how obvious my relief was. If I never saw the man again, it would be too soon.
"I don't particularly care for Georgia myself." She'd continued. But she was stuck. Everyone that cared about her wanted to be here, even if she'd wanted nothing more than to leave.
When I'd walked onto that airplane, bound for Georgia, I'd accepted that my mom might always be with Ward. And I'd told her I was never coming back, that I would never have anything more to do with that man. I'd accepted that whatever relationship I had with my mom from that point on would be strained. That I'd only want to be a part of half her life and that her husband was never welcome in mine.
And I drove it home when I told her that one day when I had kids that they were never going to visit their grandma's house, because my kids would never be exposed to that man.
"Okay." Was all she'd said.
I'd told myself it would be enough. That if she always chose him over me, that I'd accept it.
But it all started to feel like a lie. Because it would never be enough and it would never be okay.
Mom came home that February, moving in with my grandmother. As weeks turned into months, I started asking her when she was going back to Colorado, to which she always replied, "I don't know."
Soon, she had a job and had moved into an apartment 20 minutes from my dad's house. For the first time since I could remember, my parents lived in the same town. I could see both of my parents in the same day. I could eat breakfast with one and dinner with the other. I could wake up at my mom's house and go to bed that same night at my dad's. Was this what normal kids' lives were like?
And as time went on and Winter turned to Spring and Spring into Summer, my mom stayed. I started to hope that maybe the marriage that had been the worst thing to ever happen to me was finally receiving the justice it deserved.