Life is a funny thing.
As part of the One to Grow On Project I recently decided I needed to get better at forgiveness. I've always been honest that forgiveness is very hard for me.
One of the people I forgave recently? My ex-husband.
An odd choice, probably, as he really hasn't been a part of my life in my years. I don't actively think of him, if that makes sense. I never think, "Oh my children don't have a dad" because, actually? They do. His name is Jason and ever since he came around he's been the one dropping them off at school in the morning, making them their favorite green beans for dinner, and cheering his lungs out at Tae Kwon Do sparring matches. They do not lack people who love them, and they never will.
I wrote my ex-husband a letter and told him that I forgave him. Then I burned it up in the sink, because it was enough, it really was, for me to have forgiveness in my heart.
My ex-husband, the biological father of my children, died on October 13th.
I was shocked when I learned the news. Stunned. He's been sick for many years. I always knew that *someday* he would pass away. But someday was very far away. Someday was not October 13th. Not for someone who was thirty-five years old.
There is no revisionist history in my head. No excuses. I hadn't seen this man in better than ten years. At one point, a long time ago, he was part of my life. Now, he is not. He is not part of my children's lives. Death did not make him a saint, nor did it make anything change. The truth is, he was not very nice to me. He did not have anything to do with his biological children. There is no way to pretty these things up. No way in my head that I can make these things okay.
Still. My heart breaks for his mother. I cannot imagine losing my child.
That door is closed now. There are so many unanswered questions. There is no way for me to answer them.
Jason and I told the Boy and Girl Children last night. I asked them to come look at the computer and showed them the online obituary.
"This is your biological father," I told them.
They peered closely at the screen.
"Did he die?" asked the Boy Child.
"Yes he did," I told them.
Boy Child said nothing for a moment. The wheels were churning though and his next question was,
"How did he die?"
I told them that he had renal disease. That he was sick for many years. Girl Child was leaning in intently, reading the screen.
"Will I die too? Will I get renal disease?" Boy Child looked terrified...terrified in a way that I've never seen him.
I explained that I would do everything in my power to make sure he was okay. That I had already called his doctor who assured me that his last urine test, just a few weeks ago, came back fine. That we would be going to see a specialist, just to make double plus sure. And, if necessary, I would rip my own kidney out with a fork and implant it in his body. Whatever I had to do.
The Boy Child's eyes were wet. I asked if he was okay.
"I'm just so glad we have daddy," he told me.
Jason held them for a long while and told them, "I'll always be here. I'll always be your daddy."
I had to blink, really hard, a few times.
The Girl Child said, after a little bit, "I'm very sorry for his family."
I said, "Yes, it is sad." Noting that she doesn't include herself as part of his family.
"Mom," she said. "I hope I'm not rude, but I'm not very sad. He didn't care about me when he was alive."
I did not tell her that he did care about her. I did not tell her that he wasn't a bad person that he just did bad things. I didn't tell her any of those things that books say you should say to kids. What I did tell her was,
"No matter how you feel, it's okay to feel that way."
And it is, you know? And it was especially okay when she looked around for a moment and then collapsed into Jason's arms and said,
"I know who loves me."
And you know? She does.
What a blessing, and what a gift, that these little children understand that it's love that makes a family. That it will always and forever be love that makes a family.
They may have questions. They may be angry someday. They may have negative effects later on down the line. They may want to know why.
I'm so aware, so painfully aware, that I don't have all the answers. I can't tell them why, because I just don't know. I don't know why, knowing you are going to die, you wouldn't do everything in your power to make things right. I don't know why you wouldn't make some sort of effort. I don't know why you would abandon two sweet people in the first place.
But I do know they are okay. I do know that they will be okay and if they are ever not okay? I'll do whatever it takes to get them back to okay.
I know they are my greatest gifts. My greatest joys. And I do know when God closes a door, he opens a window. In my case? He usually opens another door.
Life is a funny thing. So is death.
But they are okay. The Boy and the Girl are okay. They are beautiful and wise and blessed. They are amazing.
And I am grateful and glad for the gift of them. That I get to have them and hold them and see them every day.
And grateful that for reasons I'll never understand, he just walked away and let us have this wonderful life.