I stared down at the notepad where I had scribbled the caller’s name. It had taken me a few minutes to put it together. But I think. . . Yes, I was talking to the shooter’s dad. The name he’d given me sounded so familiar but I was also trying to pay attention to what he was saying — or trying not to say.
“…because I prayed about it.” These painful words came from a fairly well-known Christian author and speaker. After hearing that, I almost walked out of the big auditorium filled with other women. She started to talk about her fantastic husband and how she’d prayed for him and that’s how he became fantastic. The pain in my core dug in deeper as I thought about what I was going to go home to that night.
As if I haven’t prayed for him. Years and years I have prayed for him to change! So…her prayers got answered because she’s either loved by God more or there’s a different set of rules for me.
Her next comments struck another nerve. “People ask me all the time how I stay so thin,” she began. She’s not really going to say this. “And I tell them it’s because I pray about it!”
Coulda Shoulda Woulda. If only. Wish I could go back.
It sounds so easy. But it’s not. Especially if your mistake stares you in the face every day.
It’s the guy who goes home to an empty apartment every night because his drinking split the family up. Oh sure, she had the affair, but it was his drinking that drove her there. And he knows it. The single mom who wakes up to her four kids every morning. Each one from a different Mr. Mistake. Every time she writes on a form each different last name than hers, she cringes. Or like me, I come home from working all week only to pack up two kids who really don’t want to go to their dad’s for the weekend. And I really don’t want them to. They’re arguing with each other and letting me know very clearly that they don’t want to go. And there’s nothing I can do to protect them. I should’ve put stronger boundaries down early on with my husband. I didn’t love him with honesty. Instead I hid our problems because I was too proud to reach out for help. And it turned into a nightmare divorce. As if there is any other kind.
I was shocked by what I was hearing at the ladies’ lunch that day. One of my new friends began to explain that her husband of 15 years had been having an affair. He was divorcing her and moving in with the “other woman.” She started to cry as she talked about their two tweenage sons. Life was a mess. She proceeded to tell us that she was quitting her job that she loved. She’d be taking the alimony to go back to school in order to provide for herself and kids. Then, in an attempt to wrap up this ugly package with a beautiful bow, the words came out of her mouth.
“Well, I guess there’s a reason for everything.”
I bit my tongue. Oh, I have walked in those shoes! I have let that phrase rattle around in my head as I dealt with the fastball sting that life hurled into my glove. While I pondered my own struggle with “everything happens for a reason”, one of the other gals spoke up.
“Oh no…” she said. “Don’t put this on God.”
Even before the “until death do us part” in my early 20’s, I had begun to draw out the sketch of my life. All 20 year olds do it.
My drawing was done on a beautiful white canvas. I took my permanent black marker and drew out my life with the only man I ever loved. My sketch had a house and a few kids. I was careful not to get too fancy on the house. Not too set on how many kids and not too determined how many would be boys and how many would be girls.
I just couldn’t do it.
Some of my girlfriends were getting together for dinner and to hear a godly woman speak to them about something important. But that day, I just couldn’t do it. These wonderful women would ask how I was. And I’d answer, “Good!” because the truth was complicated and would evoke more conversation. We’d sit and listen to a woman talk about how she prayed her way out of a bad chapter. And I just couldn’t hear that one more time. Not that night. I just didn’t have it in me. So, instead, I sat in my car in a parking lot, trying to pull myself together before I went home to two hungry teenage boys.
The Emergency Room (Marriage Counseling)
I had been in that Emergency Room (marriage counseling) so many times before. The big question remained the same. “Can this leg be saved?” Deep in the pit of my stomach, I was frantic. Oh please, oh please, oh please, not my leg. Please don’t cut it off! What will I do? What will my children do? Please save my leg!!
I sat on the Emergency Room table for many weeks, examining the wound. And the many wounds that came in the 20 years leading up to that moment – there in the Emergency Room…again.
“How does it make you feel after all these years together?” the ER doctor asked.
Angry. Hurt. Betrayed. Frustrated. Astounded. Unloved. What a waste.
When I saw the blue and red cop lights in my rear view mirror, I had no idea it was the beginning of a very long night. The cop wasn’t a jerk. But he wasn’t one of those really nice ones either.
My two teenage sons were in the car and I was ever aware that they were watching how I handled the situation. We were on our way home from the airport…
“Has anything changed since you last saw the doctor?”
“Where do I begin?” I thought.
She handed me the clipboard and the standard form, which I proceeded to fill out. Last Name. First Name. Address.
Married, Single, Divorced, Widowed.
“No box for div-vidowed,” I laughed as I thought of this term a friend of mine came up with, which so aptly described my situation.
Some holidays are not happy or joyful. They highlight absence. Something is missing. I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize that Father’s Day would permanently be such a hard day for my sons. Their dad died when they were teenagers. They were 17 and 13. He’d taken his own life a week before Christmas. All along, I thought Christmas was going to forever be a Dark Cloud Holiday for them.
But it was Father’s Day.
Something is missing: A Father.