Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Gift That Keeps on Giving


This is a song that speaks about how the things the mother taught her son will always be with him. He tells her that loving her is like food to his soul. He assures her she will always be the girl in his life. She taught him that he could face anything that comes into his world. When his sky was grey and when he was down she was always there to comfort him.

My baby boy is 32 now. Typing that number beside those words haunts me. It haunts me because I don’t know the man who is my son. I think about him so much and I dream about him at least once a week. In my dreams things are as they should be; as they used to be. The dreams are the worst. I awaken and as soon as my eyes open I realize it was just that…a dream.

My baby was a very loving child. He was intuitive about people’s moods. He could tell when someone was sad even when they were not showing outward signs. He was so open with his love too. He wouldn’t hesitate to throw those chubby arms around your neck – he didn’t care who was around to see.

When I finally got pregnant with this child, we had been tying for four years. My doctor has already told us that short of a miracle, (or fertility meds), it just wasn’t going to happen again. We had begun telling family members who asked that we weren’t planning on having another baby. The day I went to the doctor because I had been sick all day every day for a few weeks, they did a test when I arrived. It was positive!!!  I would not allow myself to be happy until the doctor examined me and said that, “Yes. You are pregnant.” I don’t know how in the world I drove home that day but peeking out between the tears I made it safely home.

For 24 years I was a wife and mother my children, to that boy and his beautiful & bright big sister. I did motherly things at their schools. I went on field trips. I sent goodies to the classroom. I played hide and seek. I taught them to love books and animals. I fought tooth and nail when needed to protect them. One night I jumped out of my car at a convenience store in my nightgown to confront a grown ass man who tried to start something with my 15 year old son because he accidentally bumped him with the door on his way out of the store. And finally, I am sure I made some mistakes along the way. My biggest mistake was letting his daddy force me out of the home while my son, who was 18 and a senior, was still in it.

Fast forward to that day 18 years later when I knew my marriage was done and circumstances forced me to leave the family home 6 months before I wanted to. That is the day my life ended.

The hate my husband had for me was so pure and ugly and spiteful that in addition to telling anyone who would listen that he was going to kill me, he turned my son against me. He told him some truths and a whole lot of lies, none of which should have ever been shared with a child about his mother. Throughout the years I had done everything in my power to keep the bad parts of their dad from them. There were things they never knew until years after I left. When I realized that my son had truly turned his heart away from me, it was only then that I tried to explain to my son in a letter that our marriage was not always what it appeared to be and gave him examples.

My son watched his daddy start drinking and carrying on foolishly in his mad, angry life. He watched him get behind the wheel of his truck and drive off completely wasted. He watched him start missing work, something he had never done before. He was there for my husband to cry on his shoulder. He saw what my leaving did to him. After I left and my baby stopped speaking to me I started writing letters to him to try and explain why I was gone. Those first 3-4 years I must have written at least one letter a week; long letters; 2-3 pages long. I tried to call but he would not answer the phone. That is the year I began to die.

I starting going to a shrink. Every week for a long, long time. I would sit in her office and cry and cry like my heart was going to just break in half. She assured me every week that he would not always hate me so. She said it was just a matter of time before he would soften and allow me back into his life. I believed her but I just could not get my heart to stop beating that extra beat it has when you feel panicked. I could not stop crying even though my job required me to meet with clients and go on lunch meetings where I had to strain just to get through paying the bill so I could hurry back to my car where I could let go. I eventually gave that job up for one where I didn’t have to face the public so much. The tears – the depression – just would not stop.

My son who is now a man, has babies of his own. His wife practically grew up in my house. They began dating when they were in 10th grade and she was at our house a lot. She used to talk to me and hug me when they would leave the house. I loved her like she was one of mine. They married the week after they graduated. Seven days later he took her to the emergency room because all of a sudden she began having horrible pain in her leg. She had bone cancer! Three weeks later they find out she was pregnant as well.

Because of the chemo and the surgeries she endured, and her refusal to abort their son, he was born blind and severely brain damaged. He is 13 now. He walks. He has some language. He is in school. He knows how to respond to questions – in his way – in the way they have taught him. He also has a little sister just 13 months younger. The doctors had told them she wouldn’t be able to get pregnant again for years because of the chemo but I guess no one told little sister that.

So my son went through this horrible nightmare of hospitals and doctors and fear and surgeries while trying to work and provide for his little family. How much help and comfort and peace did he miss out on because he didn’t have his mother? In raising this little boy with his issues and special needs how much peace could they have known had I been around. I’m not saying other people didn’t help them, they did, I’m saying look how much more support he could have had. Instead, I have two grandbabies who don’t know me and whom I don’t know. I have a man-child I don’t know.

When I see pictures of me over the last 14 years, I am astounded at the difference in my countenance from then until now. Although I have aged 14 years chronologically, I look twice that. That is what heartbreak and mental anguish does to a person. I used to be strong and fearless and happy.

My ex no longer hates me like he did back then but the damage he did is still there. He asked me not too long ago why am I still so angry with him for something that happened "so long ago". I told him this, "It is very simple...I awaken every single morning remembering that I don't have the love and relationship of my son. When you turned him against me, you gave the gift that 'keeps on giving'." 

Our son still has no mother and I still have no son. It has been 14 years since my son was turned against me. Fourteen of the longest years of my life. Fourteen years of my dying. Fourteen years of gradually coming to hope that the dying would hurry and be complete.

This article was written by a judge to divorcing parents. He says it all. Don't do it folks...just. don't. do. it.

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