I have been in a funk since LK took Jack last Friday and I’ve been trying to figure out how to escape it without success. I have tried exercising, which is usually a panacea for me. I have tried going to bed early and resting, getting up early and being productive, working hard and hardly working. So far, nothing has eased the pain and depression. I am not a person who cries easily or frequently, except for when my child is in a cardiac or NICU hospital unit. And yet, I know that it is a good and healthy thing to do. So, tonight, I tried to cry. I can work up a few tears, and cry for a few seconds pretty easily, but those types of cries don’t do alot to lighten a funk, so I had to bring in the big guns.
I watched a story on NBC news tonight that finally brought the cleansing cry that I have been searching for all week. It was about a woman who had won a prize to throw out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game. She threw the pitch to the catcher, and as they always do, the catcher began to trot to the mound to return the ball and pose for the picture. But as he got close to her she gasped and drew her hands to her face. It was her husband, who had been deployed overseas with the Army. He had worked for two weeks to set up the surprise return, enlisting the help of their kids and the baseball team. As the family posed for pictures I sobbed and finally realized why I was hurting so badly.
This was the type of man I had wanted to marry. A man with the courage and bravery to fight for his country, and the tenderness and heart to love his wife so much that he would orchestrate beautiful and memorable interactions and experiences for her and their children. As the media snapped photos, he held tightly to his wife and kids and kissed her repeatedly on the top of her head. He looked as happy to be with them as they did to be with him. He loved his family so deeply, so fully. And what did I end up with? A loser who abandoned me when I was pregnant, then denied his own son for over a year.
How did I make such a mistake in selecting him? It’s hard to say, but when we met I was much younger and overlooked quite a few things that I wouldn’t today. Early in our marriage, I was bitten by a friends dog and required 22 stitches in my lip. He still left for a business trip the next day. I suffered broken bones, the flu, bronchitis and other ailments alone, while he continued with his work and travels. And I never told him how hurt that made me. I knew several years ago that I wasn’t happy and never did anything. I don’t think I would have ever left just because I was unhappy. I am the child of divorce and wanted so badly not to be divorced myself that I would have stayed for the rest of my life.
And so I cried, for the man I married, and the man I had wanted to marry. I cried for the life I have and the life I had wanted and was now mourning. And I cried for the me that I denied for so many years, sentencing myself to a marriage in which I was unloved and uncherished. I cried with pain that this man who had ignored and hurt me so deeply was now going to be in my son’s life. And I regretted marrying him. And then the most amazing thing happend.
Jack, who had been playing and drinking from his sippy cup walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder. I looked at him and his concerned, furrowed brow relaxed into a goofy smile and he patted my shoulder several times. He was trying to comfort me. And that made me cry harder. So he put his sippy cup down and stradled my legs, crawling into my lap. He put a hand on each shoulder and looked at me with a concern so deep that it broke my heart, and then a smile so big I laughed out loud. I gathered him into me in a big hug and he let me.
And then I was done. The pain was gone and the joy was back. I had a mini-breakthrough and Jack showed me something. I had never been able to say that I was grateful for the bad marriage and all the pain, just because I had this wonderful child as a result. So many people had said this to me and I had considered their words trite and naive. I am an analytical person and reasoned that if I could have avoided the bad husband and marriage, then I wouldn’t know about the child that didn’t result, and may even be living in an intact marriage with a loving husband and our half dozen loving, beautiful and smart children. But tonight, I got it. Jack is my son, the one God designed for me. And if I had never had him, I might not have lived the life that God meant for me.
And I would have missed out mightily.