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.
That's really all I can say.
Kids are so resilient. I'm glad you told them, and I'm sure they'll continue to be fine.
You were so mindfully respectful of their feelings. I'm proud of you. They do have a right to feel however they feel. They are so blessed to have you AND Jason.
This is so lovely, and seriously gave me chills. Love to you and them. (and that photo of all the cousins is FANTASTIC)
Don't you EVER forget, the reason your kids are so awesome, so loving and so wise is because of how YOU have raised them. You and Jason and the kids...I'm so blessed to "know" such an awesome family.
I was reading your post on forgiveness on your birthday. I didn't post anything then, because I thought it was more for me than you anyhow, but I wanted to add a bit of it today.
forgiveness is never about the person who wronged us. It is about us alone. I don't forgive to make them feel better. I forgive because I hate the ugly black mark it leaves on my heart and the pit it leaves in my gut. and most of all, forgiven does not mean forgotten. it means that I will be super careful if I choose to keep you in my life, and if I choose to boot you out then you go without my good or bad feelings toward you.
I think the way you handled the ex's death with the kids was excellent. they know where their security lines are tied, who has their best interests at heart, and most of all, they know if they have questions, you will do your best to answer them honestly. there is no greater gift in life.
OMG - I am at work, in my cube, inches from tears. GC's response was so beautiful - Jason is just so beautiful. I got chills reading this... I'm so very happy that YOU forgave him. But I must ask - Did someone tell you this or do you routinely look at obits? Just askin...
My biological father was not a part of my life after I was 5. He was not a good person when we left him.
He died when I was 23. I had spoken to him once, when I was 15, when he called out of the blue. The conversation was short, stilted, surreal, scary... and a million other things.
My mom called me to tell me while I was at work because that's where I always was. She felt a sense of freedom she hadn't felt in years on account of the reason we left him and my mentioning he was not a good person -- he was most especially not a good person to her.
But then she allowed me my feelings, asked me how I felt and made sure I knew it was okay no matter how I felt.
I felt sad... for his family. I felt disconnected, like a stranger died and how I would feel when any stranger dies. You're sad for their family. So I get where Girl Child is coming from definitely.
The forgiveness thing on your part is vital to moving forward in life. Bravo for knowing that. With forgiveness comes freedom...
A chapter of a book closed. I hope everything continues to go great with the kids. They have a stable, loving family environment along with great heads on their respective shoulders. I think they'll be A-OK. :)
I am so glad you found forgiveness. To not forgive him would have been to allow him to continue poisoning your life even after his death.
I am also relieved he will no longer be able to cause pain to you or your children. Perhaps this is not an appropriate reaction to someone's death, but it is my honest gut reaction.
I am glad you forgave. It is one of the hardest things to do. I struggle with it too.
This was beautiful Stephanie, I don't think you could have handled the situation any better than you did. Your kids are lucky to have you and Jason in their lives, so, so very lucky.
I believe the love is stronger from Jason than the 'father' could have ever had.
Remember, It takes a male of the species to create a child. It takes a real man to be a father.
I have a lot of respect for someone who truly wants to be a father in that way.
But I also agree with several others here. Those children are wonderful because you are a pretty great Mom. Don't sell yourself short in the situation.
I think you did good, as they say in the South.
It is what it is. And is was what it was. Time to get on with life.
Cool...very well done and well written. Your children have a heck of a mom.
Don't forget to file for social security benefits for the kids. Might as well get something out of the bastard that you couldn't get in life.
Just sayin'. :)
That? Was the most awesome thing I have ever read. *blink blink blink*
You made me cry. AGAIN. You are a very wise woman, you young thing. And even though you don't say anything about it, I feel for you, losing the father of your children. YOU apparently cared about him at one point, and putting everything aside, it hurts to think they are just GONE.
Big hugs, you smart, smart girl. :)
Been a lurker for a year now and had not wanted to say anything til now.
I am a Grandmother. Does forgiveness extend to His parents? You mentioned "Girl's" sorrow for her grandmother's loss, does it include a future for her, with these Grand Parents? Not sure how she [they] figures in this scenario? If ever?
Even if my son ever decided to leave his children [doesn't have yet], I would always be in their future no. matter. what! I know that's just me but I do wonder about her now? She lost a son! Her DNA still flows through them. What of the other family now?
You may have mentioned her in your book [never read] but not on here [unless I missed it?] You mention it being a physical problem with him, was it with her/them too? Just wondering?
My Ex did the same to HIS first daughter [and her family] and now MY children pay for HER anger towards them because her mother poisoned [not saying you are] her against him and his other family [us]. So now my kids and I do not get to be a part of this family either because of their past hurts? My grand daughter is in the same class as her cousin, yet can't call him her [half]cousin? How far does the hurt have to go?
Can't your hearts not include them now? I wish I could change this fact for my kids but I can't...it went on too long!
You are both doing great so far, cannot the "olive branch" reach further?
Keep up the great work!
Jason...you have a big, beautiful heart, you were given a wonderful gift with lots of problems and your still there! That says a lot!
I just signed up to your blogs rss feed. Will you post more on this subject?
Someday when they have more questions about their bio-dad, you should show them this post. Beautifully written, perfectly said.
Wow. Lovely inspiring article. Kids are amazing.
Oh my goodness. When Jason said "I'll always be your daddy" I totally started crying. What a great man. I love him!
Sigh... I'm very sorry for your loss, but that time with him did open the door for your life you have now, and it's a good life. You are blessed girl. Very blessed.
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