“I don’t understand it, mom. How could you just forgive him?”
“Grace--” Her mom sighs as she says Grace’s name.
“Didn’t he promise to be faithful? Wasn’t it in your wedding vows?”
“Oh honey.” Her mom leans forward but Grace pulls away. She stands up and goes to her bookshelf. She wants something to do with her hands so she begins taking books off the shelf and setting them into the boxes that litter the floor.
“Mom. We’re moving because of him. They’re talking about you on TV because of him.” Grace turns to face the bookshelf before whispering: “They’re saying he did things with girls my age.”
Her mom stands, walks over towards Grace. “Remember what I told you in Kindergarten, when that bully was picking on you?” Her mom asks. Grace thinks her mom might be crying, but packing has made the entire house dusty and her mom might just have something in her eye.
Grace nods. “You said words can’t hurt.”
“That’s right, honey. The people on TV--they’re bullies, too. You just have to ignore them.”
“But it’s on the news.” Grace whispers. “It’s on the news and its on MTV and its on the computer and its everywhere.”
“I know honey.” Her mom holds her arms out and Grace wants to hug her, wants to forget about everything for a second and just hug her mom, but she can’t. She has one more thing she needs to ask.
“They say he’s going to jail. Because he’s guilty.” Her voice trails off. “Dad’s not going to jail, is he mom? He’s going to win, right?”
Her mom doesn’t say anything. She takes a deep breath and lets it out and then takes another one. Her mom's eyes are watering now, and Grace doesn't think she can blame it on dust in the air. Her mom takes another deep breath. Grace thinks she knows what that means.
“Sometimes, honey...” Her mom begins but Grace shakes her head. She turns away from the bookshelf and faces her mom.
“I know mom.” Her mom looks relieved that she doesn’t have to answer Grace’s question. And that’s when Grace understands because yes, they’re saying everything about her father, but they’re saying it about her mother, too. And they’re being bullies and the words don’t matter, but they hurt to hear. And her mom can't stop hearing it, she has to hear it for Grace and Zack and her dad, too.
“I love you mom.” Grace whispers. “You’re the best.”
And this time Grace doesn’t pull away when her mom leans forward to hug her. Instead she lets herself be hugged and thinks maybe this is what her father meant, when he asked her to be strong for her mother.