When I first met my husband, he talked a lot about his parents. How much he loved his dad and respected his mom. He talked of his two little brothers, who were but wee little guys. Being the group-home-grown girl who had no real family to speak of, I found this perfect family to be romantically dreamy…
In time I learned that his parents, weren’t actually his parents at all. Rather, they were a family who took him in, when he was in high school, because his own parents had kicked him out. His family, rather his real family, was one filled to the brim with alcoholism, manipulation and graphically violent abuse. At that time, Chw wanted nothing to do with his real family at all.
My first meeting of the “foster” (if you will) parents was pretty uneventful. Chw and I were still just friends. We went out to their house to pick up some mail, etc. Low key, normal, every day stuff. Because we were just friends, I had no odd expectations or pressures. I found myself surprised that he called them by their first names, (For blog purposes, we’ll call them D and D) though I don’t know why. One thing I can tell you, it was the way Chw smiled in D and D’s presence, that September afternoon which first stirred my heart for him. Something about it was so raw and honest and it reached out and grabbed me, in that brief instant.
Sometime after that, D and D didn’t like choices that Chw had made. Like all good parents should, (insert sarcastic cough here) they completely cut him out of their life. My, at the time, boyfriend was lost. Truly, it was like his life compass and sun had both just vanished. Out of complete desperation he turned to his real family for help, which truthfully broke his spirit right in half. It was horrible to witness, but still traumatic to look back and remember.
About a year after we were married, Chw looked at his life one afternoon and felt a twinge of pride. Not the evil kind, mind you, but pride for how far he’d come. Defying expectations, he’d managed a successful job. He was happily married with a glowingly pregnant wife and had a lovely home. Daring to feel good about himself, on a whim he called D and D- hoping to make amends.
Heaping his own shoulders with the entirety of blame, he begged forgiveness and they forgave. Soon they were coming over, with their two year older boys in tow. A happy family was restitching itself together and one couldn’t help but see God in the fine details of it all.
A couple of years passed and then, once again, a decision (complete trivial in detail, as i don’t even remember what it was this time around) was made and D and D turned their back on my husband. I saw his brokenness through new eyes this time and so I worked hard, right beside him, to bring them around. Their judgmental absence was less this time and soon things were restored. By the time my husband and I celebrated our fifth anniversary, D and D were very much a part of our lives. We had family dinners, and outings. They couldn’t wait to be grandparents (whenever that worked out for us- which it hadn’t yet.). We prayed with them and talked out problems. Both Chw and I trusted them whole-heartedly with everything. We had all worked hard to get to that place, but we’d done it. They were young. We were super young. There wasn’t really an instruction book on these unorthodox situations…
And then, things changed…
Suddenly, my husband was having an affair, and D and D hated me. Behind my back they were urging him to leave me and not look back. It was all beyond confusing and I couldn’t understand because, as much as anyone had ever been- they were my family too.
After our divorce, Chw stayed close with D and D. Even though he moved to Michigan, they remained his family- his parents. And then, in 2001 when he finally shared with them that we’d decided to reconcile our marriage- they made him choose: them or me.
Broken hearted, he obviously chose me.
And he didn’t look back.
At least not for a long, long time…
One day he admitted to me that the time during the affair and our divorce was a really dark time for him. He admitted lying to them, about me, so that they would be his and side with him. He just wanted to have a family, how could I blame him? I had been there… And it was his actions which hurt us all. But the damage had wounded, and the wounds had scarred… It had been 10 years and there was no going back. Still, he ached for his family some. He knew it would never be as it should be, but he wanted to try. He wrote them a letter, explaining what he had done. He prayerfully, tearfully, poured out his heart- stamped it and mailed it.
He heard nothing back.
Eventually, about a year ago, word began to spread to him that the male D had died. Then the rumor mill changed to no, he hadn’t died, but he was dying. Then, one day, the rumor mill came to him via a FB message: that D and D were looking for him.
His heart, and hopes soared…
We’ll ignore, for a moment, that he’d left them a voice mail EVERY Father’s day and Mother’s day, with his number. We’ll also ignore, the letter with the return address, phone number AND email address all included. We’ll ignore everything and call them.
Which he did, and left another in a long string of voicemails which they would never return.
Then, when Chw could no longer push them from his mind, he stopped by the store on his way home from work and ran into female D. Just like that. After four years of us being back in Idaho- poof- there she was, at a market just a mile from our house.
As it turns out, the male D is sick. Very sick… And he wants to see my husband.
and the Female D acts, towards my husband on the phone, as though they are simply old friends who fell out of touch.
And my husband asks to meet with her, and talk. And she refuses, adding bittersweetly that I am to be nowhere near their family, ever. And I don’t care because I think she is a vile, conditional and manipulative woman- but my husband cringes from the further pain of what’s been done.
And finally, months after first phoning them, today he is there. Today he visits D and D. Today he says hello first, and begins that long goodbye that no one is ever ready for. Painfully he faces everything he’s lost: both what has been snatched from him and what he threw away.
As for me, today I’m sickly reminded of how much the things they have said and done towards the end of our marriage- and since then- have hurt me. I’m reminded of how conivingly they architected the end of our marriage and how well they (mostly she) have always been able to pull my husbands strings.
And then, shards of light fill my memory because I have nothing to worry about.
Nothing at all.
I know my husband, I love my husband, I TRUST my husband…
And I know that my husband loves me.
And he needs this, so I pray for him. I pray it is beautiful and lovely, and nurturing, and healing.
I do forgive them. I know that they made decisions based on lies. But they (mostly she) also made mistakes,
(many) of their own doing. No one’s perfect. So I forgive them. I am deeply sad that he is ill. I love him. I always have. He is a good, good man. I see SO MUCH of him in my husband. I am sad that my kids don’t know him. I am sad that his own sons grew up and became men and my husband simply missed it. I am sad because it all seems like such a tragic waste, and such a seeping mass of vile pride and arrogance.
But I forgive them…
And sometimes i reforgive, and reforgive…