Monday, August 8, 2011
It was Friday afternoon, and I was busy wrapping up some work that had been piled on my desk. I was looking forward to the end of the week, and for some relaxing time on the weekend. There was a lot on my mind, with Camp Widow being just around the corner, and things to get done at home. Suddenly my cell phone rang, and I could see it was my daughter calling.
"Hi Dad. I need to talk to you."
It was the tone of her voice that made me take a deep breath, and purposefully let go of any prior thought that was lingering in my mind.
Yes, daughter. What's going on?
"Well, please don't be mad at me. I know you are going to be disappointed"
I knew it before she could say it.
In that moment time seemed to stand still. I knew that whatever I said next could either make, or break, her spirit. I could hear her sobbing in the background. My daughter is 20 years old. She's an adult, and no longer lives at home. I've had to let go the idea that I have much control over what goes on in her her daily life. I still have influence, but it is her life, and lately, it seems that my role is to help her pick up the pieces.
My mind immediately turned to Michael, and I could picture the look he would have given me in that moment. If he had been sitting by my side his hand would have reached over to lay upon my own. He would have discretely squeezed my hand to let me know that I need to remain calm.
Michael was the calm and methodical one in our relationship. He was often the good cop, and yes, I was the bad one. I don't mean that in a negative way, but by the time he entered my life I had already been a single parent for many years. When Michael joined our family it was a breath of fresh air for all of us. The kids finally felt like there was another adult, another parent they could turn to when Dad was already angry. Michael could be that go between person, the one that buffered our responses before temperaments got raised.
When my mind was able to refocused I found that I was quite calm. I had been here before. I had heard news that I didn't want to hear, and was able to recover. Am I disappointed? Yes. But being angry, and drowning in disappointment, will not help my daughter during this time. I reminded her that I loved her, and that she would have my full support. I told her that we would talk during the weekend, and that she would have the opportunity to share this with her brothers.
Today my daughter was able to share her news with my parents. They actually handled the surprising news quite well. I was very proud of my mother, who can be a bit harsh with her words at times. Yet as soon as my daughter left the room my mother turned to me and said, "after all you have been through, this is not what you needed." I looked at my mother purposefully, and explained to her that I have already been through the worst in life. Nothing will ever compare to that. Anything else that comes my way is a piece of cake at this point. And bringing a new life into this world, however it happens, is always a good thing.
I have come to accept that I cannot control the lives that surround me. All I can do is respond to them with loving kindness. I have said goodbye to the man that I loved. I held him in my arms as his life came to an end. Now it appears that I will be saying hello to a new life in the coming year. My only sadness of course is that Michael won't be here to share in this new life. Another chapter to face on my own.
Life continues to move forward. I, in turn, must do the same.