The rest of my classes, aside from art, continued to be a virtual bore. Thankfully, I had never been one of those students who needed the teacher’s instruction in order to learn the material. I had always had good self study habits, and tended to remember things after hearing or reading them only once. So for me, doing the homework was sufficient for me to actually learn the material. As long as I kept up with my homework – which I did, because it was the only thing I had to keep my mind from wandering off and dwelling on unpleasant things in the evenings – I continued to ace the tests and earn my straight A’s. I had been at the top of my class since first grade, and I did not intend to let that change now.
But during the actual class periods, my mind would wander all over the place. In an effort not to get lost thinking about my mom, I would usually end up drawing in a notebook. Some of these sketches evolved into projects I used for my art class.
In trigonometry, I sat in the corner farthest from the teacher, so I had a little more liberty with what I could do to occupy my time. Sometimes, I pulled my journal out of my backpack, where I always carried it, and scribbled in it. On the days that were a little bit harder than other days, it helped to write something, even if all I wrote was “Today I miss Mom.”
At home, I came out of my room less and less often. I usually forced myself to join my dad and brother for dinner, mostly because I did not want to fight with my dad about it. But once in awhile, when I just felt I could not summon the strength to be there with them, all of us thinking about Mom and feeling her absence together yet separately, I would pull the homework or test card. If I didn’t try that too often, my dad couldn’t really argue with me about it.
The thing was, I had always thought that it would get better as time went on. That the deep ache in my chest would start to ease up, and I wouldn’t always have to force back the tears at every stupid little thing that reminded me of her – because every stupid little thing did remind me of her. But it seemed like the longer she was gone, the harder it was to get by without her. I thought it seemed to be that way for Dad and Kurt, too; they both just kept spending as much time as possible at their jobs, and neither of them spoke much when they were at home.