Friday, March 9, 2012

Heavy Heart

Today my heart is heavy. I'll explain but most won't understand even then. The reality is my heart is heavy for a man who does not deserve my compassion. Or does he?
Growing up in the church and having a personal relationship with God I know that I am expected to feel love and compassion for all people-even (if not especially) for those I might consider to be my enemy. Living in the human world and being surrounded by the sin and selfishness that abounds there I know that most people, including many Christians do NOT hold that compassion for everyone-least of all those they consider the opposition.
My heart is heavy for my enemy.
He wasn't always an enemy. He was a co-worker who became a friend who became a husband and father. While our marriage didn't last long, our friendship did. In fact,once we were no longer bound by marriage vows and the responsibilities of building a marital home together we became better friends than we had ever been. We spoke daily,shared thoughts,views,feelings,fears and dreams. We discussed and agreed upon every decision needed in regards to our two beautiful daughters. We were,or at least I thought we were-the poster children for the perfect co-parenting divorced population.
And then she happened.
I had already remarried, had another child and was expecting another baby. We were still close friends and he sought my advice about asking a co-worker on a date. He told me how pretty she was, how she made him laugh, how she intrigued him. But he was afraid. What if she didn't like him? What if she laughed at his invitation? I encouraged him by telling him that he was a wonderful father and a great guy (which I truly believed at the time) and that life was much too short to contemplate forever. And so he asked,she accepted and suddenly numerous lives were altered forever.
The man I knew and had become friends with , the man my children and stepson had adored and considered the best father on Earth ceased to exist. He was simply.....gone. In his place was a puppet. She made the rules which he followed. She issued the orders which he carried out. She demanded and he obeyed.
Over the course of the next eight and a half months the lines of communication trickled to a stop. Visits with my children became non-existent. And on December 5, 2005 the real nightmare ( I call it my bad made for tv movie) began. On that day-this man and his new "love" walked into the elementary school our daughters attended, signed them out and disappeared.
Over the course of the next 19 months he would take steps to erase me from the lives of my children. They were brainwashed and told that I no longer wanted them. They were told I had a new family that I loved more and was never coming back to them. They were told I was dead. They were prohibited from speaking about me, their siblings,grandparents and forced to destroy anything they had ever received from any of us. Mail was thrown away before they could see it, gifts were destroyed and phone numbers were constantly being changed and disconnected in an effort to sever the lines of communication.
Thankfully after 19 months of tears and enormous prayer......two teachers, a guardian ad litem, an attorney and an incredible judge ended this Hell we were living. I was given an order to go (with law enforcement) and get my daughters and bring them home. As happy as I was for that I was equally devastated that this would again cause trauma to my children. And it did.
My children missed their daddy. I encouraged them to talk about him. They were never punished or made to feel "bad" for loving and missing him. I supported their attempts to call,write and email him. He was still their father. But he wasn't. The enemy said so. And he followed suit. For months after coming home they reached out to him. Each time they were screamed at,cussed at,accused of lying and hung up on once they were reduced to tears. Finally they stopped calling. But they still missed him. They still cried. They still asked if he would ever love them again.
And then they didn't.
They no longer ask. They no longer cry. They no longer seem to remember that there used to be a man that was their father.
And that man's 40th heart is heavy. Heavy with the sadness of knowing that deep inside they do remember. They do miss him. They do long to have their father,their daddy back. Heavy because today, on that man's birthday  they do not seem to notice. Heavy because to is simply March 9th.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Larger Than Life

I have eight uncles-my mother's brothers. A couple I know well, a couple not so well and one or two I know just through snippets of minute flashes of childhood memories. Brief. Sparse. And fading. One thing "the eight" have in common is that even now I see them through the eyes of a child. A little girl who used to run around her grandmother's backyard as if she had no cares in the world and never would. A child who recalls the giants who would occasionally walk through that yard and into the house and the deep raucous laughter that would usually follow.
 My uncles were always larger than life in my eyes.......big,strong men with deep voices and even deeper laughs. The kind of laugh that was genuine,real,never forced and came from somewhere even deeper than their souls. The kind of laugh that grew from years of doing without and still being able to be thankful for what they had. A laugh that told you they had no regrets or feelings of having missed out on anything in their youth because of their station in life. 
So many times I can remember sitting quietly, straining to hear every single word of their stories. (They told the best ones EVER!) Little did I appreciate at the time that these weren't stories at all but memories of the moments that shaped and molded them into the men they were. Precious glimpses of time past that I was "watching" through their words and that laughter. 
That little girl was so naive. She didn't realize then that these giants were men....mortal men. Men that years later through no fault of their own would begin falling prey to an enemy that even giants cannot seem to escape or defeat. An enemy that chose to encroach on the very fiber of strength that made them giants. Like a parasite this enemy has taken up residence with six of those giants. It has so far defeated two of them. And right now it has its tentacles wrapped around another. 
The little girl in me is still watching.....waiting for that fairytale ending in which the giant defeats the enemy. The happily ever after bringing with it the roar of laughter as only they can bellow. The undeniable sparkle of playfulness and joy that shines in each of their eyes.....but this is not to be that fairytale. Because I am not a little girl and they are not giants. They are men. But in my mind, in my heart and in my eyes......they will always and forever be larger than life.