+1 (323) 986-5100

“What kind of therapy did you start?” I ask, handing her back her phone with the sad, washed-out looking photo of her.
“Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy,” she says, digging around in her purse again. She pulls out a business card and slides it across the tabletop to me with a savage, purple nail.

“I thought that stuff was dangerous,” I say.

She shakes her head. “All that kerfuffle came from a study on very much older, sicker women who weren’t taking estrogen alone. Since then, studies on women like us using the right dosages of the right hormones has shown a very positive effect on health and well-being.” She checks her phone and finishes off the last slurp of her iced coffee. “I’ve got to go,” she says. “I’ve got a karate class tomorrow at 5:30. Want to join me? Guests get a free lesson.”

A karate class? Was Lila even for real? But I find myself grinning broadly. And then I find myself saying, “Sure, I’ll go. Why not?”

“Great. See you at work tomorrow. Pack some sweatpants and a tee.” Then she loads her purse back up, gives me an air-kiss and disappears out the door.

When I turn back from watching her go, Harrison is looking at me over his book. He smiles and glances back down again. I turn the business card over in my fingers, trying to get up my nerve. Then, before I can think too much about it, I dial the number and get Maria, the receptionist, on the phone. My heart is racing. I hate doctors. I hate doctor’s appointments. I don’t even like using the blood pressure cuff at the drugstore. She asks me my name and a few other questions. I start to feel sweaty. I make up an excuse, and I hang up on her before she can book my appointment.

I look around like someone who’s just avoided being attacked by coyotes. Harrison is engrossed in his book again, and even though I stare at him for a full minute and a half, he doesn’t notice. I quickly stand up, drop my cup in the trash and head out the door.

Back at home, Alex has finished up all of the leftovers, so I just make myself a salad. He’s working on his homework at the kitchen table, his dirty dishes all around him like satellites. He’s such a good kid. A little shy, but it’s kept him out of trouble.

“How was your day?” I ask him.

He shrugs.

“Did you have any tests?” I push.

He shakes his head.

I pause. “Want to go to a karate class with me tomorrow?”

Finally he looks up. “What did you say?”

I sit down with my salad. “I got invited to a free karate class. Wanna come?”

He looks unsure, like he has to decide what’s more important, keeping up his reputation as a standoffish teenager or living out Avatar the Last Airbender. But my son has always had his priorities in order.

“Yeah, sure, I’ll come.”

Victory! Mom victory! I hide my smile in a forkful of lettuce.

My phone buzzes and I see it’s my 20-year-old daughter, Camille. “Hi, honey,” I say, tapping speakerphone. “How’s it going?”

Unlike Alex, Camille has never been standoffish with me. If anything, she goes the opposite way, giving me a window into way too many rooms of her life.

“Mom, did he tell you? Did you find out? OMG!”

Ah, Camille, with the power to raise anyone’s blood pressure three points in 30 seconds.

“What, honey? Did who tell me what?”

“Dad texted me. He’s getting remarried.”

**To read Parts 1 and 2, click the following links:  Part 1 / Part 2