People who haven’t seen me in years ask how my sons are.
Most parents can answer the question freely, but I want to hide. Should I politely say, “Fine,” fake a smile, and leave it at that?
This approach comes with the risk that they discover my deceit when they continue with, “So, what are they doing?”
Since I haven’t seen them in years, how do I reply? If I confess to not seeing them in thirteen years, I prepare for looks of pity. Or judgment.
I imagine they think, “There must be more to the story. I wonder what she did wrong.”
Most often, I try to recover the loose ball by asking them about their lives and hope my fumble wasn’t too obvious.
Other “social” exchanges, like Facebook, lure me into the past, into what seems like my other life. I read the words my son posted on a mutual friend’s page. I hear the sporadic squeaks in his adolescent voice. I smell the after-shave he wore as a high school senior. Staring at his name suspends me. In my mind, I see this name I gave him displayed on his birth certificate alongside the precious prints of his newborn feet.
Thirteen years have passed without seeing my sons.
If someone had asked me what I wanted most in the world when I was a young mother, I would’ve said, “To be the perfect mom.”
I held visions cinched with Hallmark movie scenes, where forgiveness and long-term commitment wins out over personal mistakes and differing perspectives.
Instead, my divorce resulted in one of the biggest losses imaginable: the estrangement of my two sons. I felt alone, like a pierced balloon, aimless and losing air.
For years, I’ve battled internally. I tried to be a perfect mom, although I was not. But who is? I made mistakes. But who doesn’t? I wish I could have heard their perspectives, their reasons for rejection—and tell them I am sorry for the pain I inflicted, for entering into upheaved energies of the divorce, for making choices that caused their anxious nights and disrupted days—and their decisions for distance.
My desire to re-unite with them is deeper than the hollows of my hurt. I want to dive into this deep despair with them, wrestle through our torrents together, and surface to light and calm. Even if we reach land with a limp, we would be walking together.
I remain so full of love for them that it could sink me. Like a heavy anchor tied to my heart, my love lowers me into the depths of darkness. I hold my breath and hope for the miracle of them pulling me to safety.
Memory Keeping –
Sometimes when I see headlights stretching toward me at night, I recall my relief when finally seeing our family Suburban’s headlights reaching through the darkness, safely returning my teen-aged sons home.
The last time I saw my sons, they didn’t say, “Bye Mom! Love you!” We were in a courtroom at the divorce hearing. They sat behind their father dressed in suitcoats, ties and dress shoes. I sat beside my lawyer, desperate to hear them say they loved me – or at least acknowledge me. I felt filleted like the pickerel we used to catch on our fishing trips.
Changing Perspectives –
It took me ten years to realize I cannot get to safety without first plunging into the strength of God, and holding onto His truths. When I read my Bible, I am reminded to come up for air—and breathe. I learn about forgiving the mistakes and inadequacies of myself and of those who hurt me. I inhale the goodness of God’s grace, and second chances.
The broken stories in us don’t go away; they can’t be undone. I learn to accept a life different from what I expected.
I savor gratitude for knowing my sons, and raising them to ages eighteen and nineteen. I squeeze every sweet drop out of my memories of our time together. While I miss them, I have learned to appreciate what is going right in my life, and not squander the many blessings in front of me.
I yearn for them to lead happy, productive lives. I pray they each accept God on their journeys, and find grace—for themselves and others.
After all these years, I still want to believe they love and long for me, just as much as I do them.
I dream of someday feeling their big hugs and hearing their sturdy man voices.
In the meantime, I hold onto God’s grace and praise Him for His many blessings. I pray for the possibility of earthy second chances.
If someone would now ask me what I wanted most in my life, I would say, “To know my sons… and go from there.”