There were times in the following year, when I believed that only suicide would save my family. He never told me what, if anything he wanted. He never revealed himself, or his reasons. He seemed only content to watch the engine of my life to shudder to a halt. I descended into a fog of self-pity and utter horror as all my relationships dissolved around me.
At irregular intervals, always just enough time passed to make me believe that it had ended, that I had dreamt it all, I would receive a package. They each contained a half a dozen photographs on glossy paper. My son in school, doodling in his notebooks, shot through an open window. A soccer game, his leg frozen in mid swing. A front yard game with two neighbors, my son suspended in a leap, his tongue out stuck out in a mask of joy.
I received the last package a month after my wife had left me. Unable to cope with my stony, hollow eyed silence and slow motion disintegration, she had returned across the state line, to Idaho, and her mothers house, where she made unsubtle attempts over nightly phone calls to convince our son to join her. Whatever amicability there was between us was flaking away like old paint, and I knew a court intervention was imminent.
For myself, I did not know if I could keep my son safest close to me, or whether I was dooming him by my presence. He was increasingly distant, angry at my sudden shift in personality, and inability to make his mother happy. His presence, no matter how he pouted and hid, was the one bright and shining point of that time, a silver thread to hold onto in the maelstrom. The week of the last package, he had taken a Greyhound bus to see his mother, already hinting at a desire to stay and live with her; I was in a black and foul mood when I found to the familiar manila envelope in the entryway.