It was early morning and I just left my home of thirteen years for the last time. It was going to be a long ass drive to my new home and state but I knew in my heart it was for the best. I would have a good 20 hours of driving to muse over my new life and what I had to look forward to. My life was going to change and I knew it would be for the better.
You see I married my best friend, Sam Merlotte, right after we graduated from high school. I would have never married him except that I got pregnant and our parents told us it would be the right thing to do.
How did I end up pregnant you ask, well you see Sam and I had decided that we wanted to give up our virginity to someone we cared about and neither one of us had a significant other at the time, so a little more than midway through our senior year we did the deed with each other. We thought we were careful but low and behold 9 months later our first child was born, but it wasn’t one child it was twins, Jake Alexander Merlotte and Jackson Samuel Merlotte. Then 3 years later we had our third child, a girl, Jessica Renee Merlotte.
I had a good life despite not loving my husband the way I should. I was never in love with Sam like he was with me but he was okay with the knowledge that I loved him and respected him in our marriage. Our marriage would have continued if he wasn’t killed by a drunk driver one night on his way home from work.
That was three years ago today.
We had both struggled after high school to put each other through college so we would have a better life and raise our children above the poverty level that we had grown accustomed to in our home town of Bon Temps. Sam went to school for Tool and Die and I went to school for Nursing. We made an honest and decent living and we were able to buy the nicer cars and a better home in Ruston, we both felt we had earned and deserved it.
But three years ago that all seemed to change for me. Sam died, I grieved and then I became despondent about my life. I knew I had to be an adult but I wanted to live the life I wanted to not the one that was being dictated to me by mine and Sam’s parents.
I had to get away and soon or I would lose myself in their image of me; they saw me as a helpless child who had no backbone and who relied on them for everything.
Yeah at first after Sam’s death that was the case. I was shocked not in shock, but Sam and I made sure we were both covered by life insurance just in case something happened to one of us. We wanted to make sure the other was covered and the kids grew up happy. We made sure we had a Last Will and Testament, a Living Will and a funeral plan; we both wanted to be cremated.
Our parents were shocked that we had thought that far ahead but we felt we needed a backup plan just in case, since no one lives forever. Sam’s parents were livid at the cremation their son wanted and took me to court to fight it. They were told that since his will states his wishes there was nothing they could do about it. So for the next five months they camped out at my house to make me regret my decision but that only fueled my fire.
It took me three long years and a lot encouragement from my Gran but I put my house up for sale and found a new job in Florida. I was overjoyed when I found out I could transfer with the hospital since they had a sister entity in the area I wanted to live in, the only thing that would be different is that I would have an office job until I was able to recertified in the state of Florida. I was good with that I was going to be the assistant to the nursing director and I could work normal 8 to 5 hours, not regular shift work.
I had money in the bank from the life insurance policy, the money from the accident claim and the sale of my home so I was able to purchase a nice house in a middle class suburban neighborhood. I met most of my neighbors during my closing so they knew I was a single mom and they all said they would help out when they could. I wasn’t really relying on it but it was nice to know someone was there for me just in case there was a need.
Like I said it was going to be tough when I got down there but I knew with a little bit of patience and having a plan it would all work out on the end.
So here I was driving south on I-20 to get me into the southern part of the state where I would hook up with I-55 and then onto I-20 which would lead me to I-75 in Florida. The 1000 miles give or take a few miles should take an average of 15 hours to make, but since I had three children with me I knew I was looking at 20 hours instead and we had three states to get through. I was told that Florida would be my longest drive time but it also meant we were closer to our new home.
The kids all promised to behave on the trip and not give me any flack but I knew that promise might not be kept, I drove a 2013 Blue Dodge Grand Caravan and it had all the right hookups to keep them entertained but I knew sooner or later all or one of them would get bored and they fed off of each other like fungus.
But in the meantime I was going to enjoy my ride in silence.
We made it into Mississippi before our first mishap and it happened to be right around lunch time so it was good for us to be able to stop at a fast food place, get out of the van and eat. It also provided a much needed pee break for all of us. We had a cooler with drinks and snacks in it but the drinks just made you have to stop more to use the restroom.
Our next mishap was when we reached the Florida panhandle. The kids were tired and bored and I knew it would be best for us to stop for the night. Our furniture was being moved down for us and would be there two days after we got there so I knew that stopping at a hotel for the night would be in our best interest. The kids could stretch their legs; we go to the swimming pool and watch movies before we had to go to bed. We didn’t have a set schedule for departure so I tried to make this as much of an adventure as possible for them plus we only had another six hours or so of travel time so there was no harm in the fun.
We stayed at a Hampton’s Inn right outside Gainesville.
It was nice, the boys slept in one bed and me and Jess in the other. We ended up watching the Disney channel on the TV instead of movies; it was easier since they couldn’t decide what type of movie to watch.
In the morning we woke up and went downstairs for breakfast, Hampton Inn provides a nice breakfast to the weary travelers that stay the night. My boys can eat me out of house and home, so it was nice not to have to fork out a ton of money to put them in a food coma for the last few hours of our trip today.
The rest of our trip was uneventful since both boys slipped into a food induced coma for three hours and when they finally woke up they were excited to be so close to their new home, so they didn’t pester me too much.
We had had several long talks about our new living arrangements and the kids said they just wanted me to be happy. They needed to see the sparkle come back into my eyes and my smile; children can be very perceptive even when they are young. The boys were now 13 and Jess was 10, they had grown up a lot over the last three years since their father’s passing, I wanted them to have a childhood and the way things were going in Louisiana I didn’t see that happening, there was too much interference from their grandparents.
So it was a joint decision, one only supported by Gran and my BFF Alcide Herveaux. I always seemed to gravitate toward men as my friends since they gave me less drama and they were willing to listen to me and give me advice when they thought I needed it.
The one thing Alcide told me before we left, “I am only a phone call away. Just say it and I will move down there for you and the kids. I know you don’t love me that way but we are good together, the kids know me and I would never want to take over Sam’s place in their hearts. Just say the word and I will be there quick as a bunny.”
I told him, “I would be okay but I wanted him to be happy too and being married to me would make him miserable since he could not cat around anymore. I would never allow that if we were a couple.”
His response, “DUH”.
He made me laugh.
He was the first person I called every night to tell them how I was doing and moving 1000 miles away from one another was not going to change that habit anytime soon.
We reached Coconut Creek Florida in good time, but our hotel was a bit south of that since I opted to stay in a Hampton Inn again. It would save on my morning food bill until we got moved in and I could cook our meals.
We decided to stop by our new home and the neighbors were all there to greet us. We had John Quinn and his wife Tyshon across the street to our right; Remy Savoy and his wife Kim, directly across from us with their son Kyle and next door to me were Cindy Lenier and her boyfriend Victor Madden and Cindy’s daughter Crystal, and on the other side of me was a vacant two story house. The kids were happy about their new friends and Kyle excitedly told them about everyone else in the neighborhood.
I think I did well with our new home, the schools were less than 2 miles away and the kids were making friends.
Everything was perfect.
Author’s Note: Coconut Creek is my hometown so I know the area and I am using that knowledge and the laws of Nursing in the State of Florida which I verified with my nursing friend at Jackson Memorial.