Sometimes when I first wake I have a blank moment before I start planning my day. It is like a suspended reality where I contemplate the dreams of the night before and I just feel without thinking. I love the “morning fog” as I call it, it is the calm before the storm.
This morning I woke earlier than usual. My first (of three) alarms goes off at 6AM each morning. I rarely get up until about 7:30 but today I was awake at first bell. The Sun was streaming in my window, teasing me of approaching Spring and that soon I will be woken by the morning chatter of the birds. As I lay there on my back I felt oddly at peace with myself. As refreshing as natural light in my room was, that wasn’t it. As my morning fog wore off I realized that 2 of my awesome kids were not 100 miles away today, but instead were downstairs sleeping. As they have been each morning this week. That was the peace, at that particular moment, all was right with the world.
The past 5 days have been some of the best in recent memory. They have been like 5 Saturday’s in our former life. They both slept late, my youngest son later than my daughter. I made pancake batter first thing when I woke and I drank coffee until the daughter woke up. I gave her a “temporary” breakfast to hold her over until the boy got up. At around 11 I went downstairs and made noise until he woke. I would then fire up the griddle and the first batch of pancakes would be on his plate when he stumbled upstairs. After the breakfast carnage, they went to watch TV and I cleaned up. Every day started like that.
We kept busy in the afternoon doing everything and nothing. We spent hours shopping and they also spent many hours fiddling with their iPhones. I didn’t push them to be busy, they were on school vacation and they were with me. That was all I needed.
The nights proved to be the most fun, as they always were when we were together. I would make a dinner from scratch and as I puttered around the kitchen they sat on the island stools snacking on tidbits and we just talked about whatever came up. The aroma of the food, the sorely missed sound of laughter, the chattering of my daughter as she frenetically tried to update me on everything I’ve missed since I’ve last seen her. The boy messing with her at every opportunity and trying to squeeze in his own stories. Then we ate, and they swooned at the meal stopping only to tell me how much they missed my cooking. After dinner, I lit the wood stove and handed the remote over to them. Whatever they wanted to watch was fine with me. At one time this was my normal routine, having been away from it for so long it was now magical.
The highlight of the week occurred last night at dinner. We were talking in the kitchen, I was throwing together a stir fry and sipping a drink when the conversation turned to the living situations we are all in. They wanted to know if I was going to stay here and the answer of course was yes, I have nowhere else right now. We then talked about theirs. They are both living with my wife, who is desperately trying to find someplace else to live. The boy likes it there, my daughter is absolutely miserable. Visibly upset about the situation I remarked that I wish I could have done better by all of them. My son then spoke and nearly floored me:
“Dad, I’m good. You really need to stop acting like this is your fault. I can only speak for me but it’s not that bad. I’m doing fine”.
It was a very surprising and proud moment. What a fine young man he was. If I could wish one thing for my children besides good health it would be adaptability. He has it. He rolls with things and deals with whatever comes his way. My moment was dampened when I looked at my daughter, she was not so good. I felt awful again but somewhat relieved knowing that her moving was in the works. I feel hopeful for her.
We talked for hours last night. It was candid, it was relaxed, it was revealing and it was real. It was also cathartic. It may be the first time since I have moved away from them that I truly felt that everything was going to be ok. We may never be together again but if my persisting dream is that they find happiness and consistency in their life again then there is hope after all. It seems that what I was unable to provide in money, housing and sustenance they overcame by flexibility, strength, and character. I would like to think that this is my contribution to the gene pool.
The day may be approaching where I can make peace with the recent past and focus on my future recovery. In the process of blaming myself and feeling bad, I’m not sure that I considered the outside possibility that they don’t need me in their lives so much as they want me in their lives. I would take both, but one is way better than the other. After all, if I am questioning my body of work as a father, wouldn’t strong and resilient children count as a mark in the win column?
What a week, easily my best memories to date.
Want to read a great post about memories? Check out my buddy Tom being Tom