“I’ve been thinking that maybe…” I said.
“Yes?” Dr. Vogwall prompted.
“Well, the woman,” I began. My head tilted forward, my eyes strained as if I searched for something. “When she was alive, things got done.”
“What sort of things?” he asked.
“The bills were paid. There was food in the cupboards. We weren’t allowed to eat it,” I emitted a snorting laugh. “But it was there. Whenever the cupboards were open, even on Saturday morning before they went shopping, there was food.
“The kids had school clothes and coats. Even my hand-me-downs were clean, pressed, and mended. And the housekeeper came every week day; I was never kept out of school to take care of the younger kids.”
“And after she died?”
“Chaos,” pain seized my face. I pushed it away. “The power was cut off several times because he didn’t pay the bill. We nearly lost the house when he didn’t pay the mortgage. The cupboards were empty until I was caught stealing. He went through housekeeper after housekeeper. Just chaos.”
“Maybe he didn’t have enough money,” Dr. Vogwall suggested.
“He had enough before she died,” I replied shaking my head. “She never worked.”
“You think the woman kept things stable?”
“Maybe,” I said. “Maybe she made sure things were done. Maybe, just by being there, she made life better for us.”
“So what does that mean to you today?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered. My forehead furrowed, “Maybe she took better care of us than I’ve thought. Maybe she mitigated his craziness somewhat.”
I pushed my hair away from my forehead and pulled up my sleeves, “She should have taken me to the police. That was a serious failure: you can’t just keep a child. I don’t know if he prevented her but she found ways around him — like with the ballet lessons. But maybe, just maybe, even with her own craziness, she did her best to give us a normal life.”
Dr. Vogwall nodded, “Maybe she did.”