Gurgling water like laughter falls over the river rocks as I recline on a boulder under the shade of some Douglas firs. The ripe wild berries have brought the bees buzzing around. After watching a trout drift downstream, I wander over to taste a few of the salmon berries named because of their pinkish orange color. The Oregon Willamette Valley on this July afternoon has a soothing effect as I listen to the shrieks of my sons and their newfound friends splashing each other in the natural pool beneath the rocks where I have been sitting.
A pang of regret makes my eyes sting as I remember their father will never again make a foursome at our picnics. I realize I have packed the usual four plates, cups, and plastic ware in the hamper. Quickly I spread a blanket and arrange the fruit, sandwiches, and carrot sticks on three of the plates. As I fill the boys’ cups with milk from a thermos, I visualize the three of us sitting on the large blanket and hurriedly place the hamper and thermos on the empty corner.
Leaning back on my elbows, I remember the call I received three weeks before. The boys had just gone to bed and I was loading the washing machine whenever I heard the phone ringing. Thinking it was a friend, I settled on the couch and answered with a cheery hello.
It was a friend but she seemed upset. “Is everything all right?” I questioned. She stammered a few syllables and finally blurted, “Your husband has a girlfriend. I just thought you ought to know.”
My head was spinning as I tried to comprehend that my husband of 16 years and the father of my two sons was seeing another woman. I recalled the doubts I had been having about his all night fishing trips. Once there had been a phone call he had received from another woman. He had explained that she was a supervisor from work but I knew he had only two male supervisors.
The next few days went by in a whirlwind of questions and denials, culminating with my husband moving into another house. I reluctantly filed for divorce.
A noisy gull brings me back to the present. I paste a smile on my face and summon up my courage to appear happy before the boys. Watching them from the bank I observe how happy they are and my melancholy is replaced with the joy of love for my adoring sons.
“Chris, Jeremy,” I call while carrying their towels to the edge of the water. They dogpaddle over and get out of river as they playfully shake water onto me.
We are soon seated and as I bow my head to give thanks for the food, my five year old questions, “Mommy, can three still be a family?”
Biting my lower lip, I whisper, “Sure, Jeremy. It is not the number of people that make up a family, but the amount of love. Yes, son, three is enough.”


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