I have a beautiful son. He is not handsome, dominant, or masculine. He is simply, beautiful. Unlike his younger sisters, who unharness their energy for the whole world to consume, his is an energy that lingers. I sense it around me at all times, but I cannot name it. Like a ghost lurking in the shadows, he is more of this world than in it.
He asks me a million questions, and yet is never tiresome. When he speaks, he finds some part of my body to softly stroke with his fingertips—the inner part of my wrist, or the tips of my hair. Even though he stands nearly five feet tall, he finds it impossible to discuss his day without climbing onto my lap. In our quietest moments, he still calls me mama. For now.
It seems unfathomable that this lanky little boy already knows so much about loss. Divorce teaches this at an alarming rate. And no one prepares you for the longevity of the pain. He is caught now, in two worlds—the longing for the old, with the ease of the new. He loves two fathers, and he doesn’t want to choose.
I do my best to not make him. As I understand, better than anyone, the ability to reside firmly in two different places all at once. I catch myself struggling to teach my son the nuances of love, loyalty, fidelity, and marriage, while proving that his parents had none of these things. It is remarkable how quickly we forget, that when we fail ourselves, we have already failed our children. Worse yet, the spoils of divorce go to no one. This small creature does not care who lied versus who left. There are no awards given to those who kept their heads high—I lie in the same ruins as he does. As we all do.
The second time was supposed to mend all the broken promises—a showcase for what should have been. I can see he is paying attention. He likes to dance in my living room and pretend he has big muscles. Two opposing parts of him, living in unison. He is developing a sense of who he is, who he wants to be.
And more and more, he is asking more of me. Last night, amidst homework, a basketball game, and those lingering fingers, he mourned the family he no longer has. And as I sat there listening, able, for the first time, to hold back my own tears, I apologized for something I am not sorry for. Someday, I want him to seek happy with the same ferocity as his Monday evening dance moves. I want him to by loyal to himself before anyone else. Sometimes, leaving is the kindest gift you can give yourself.
No one prepares you for the moment you are held accountable for your choices—even if at the time, it didn’t feel like a choice at all. But it occurs to me now, hours after I watched those tears fall quickly from his face, that I still have choices. Forgiving the past that lead me here, gives my children the opportunity to have their family again—even if it is a whole lot bigger. We control the meaning of the words we use to define ourselves, and remembering where we came from; will make the place we someday reside, all the more fulfilling.