Do What You Can
CHAPTER THREE – CHOICES
I have learned the futility in passing judgement on anything in which I have no wisdom to draw upon. Therefore, these days I hold my tongue with increasing frequency. In my youth, I did not follow that practice, and openly communicated disappointment when others did not abide by my personally adopted rules. Breadwinner, Dad, Husband, and Man are labels foreign to me. However, that truth did not prevent me from voicing my critical analysis in how each role was performed. Somehow, I thought I not only understood how the cracks had formed in my marriage, but also how each could be mended. The ink on my divorce papers has started to fade, but most days I still walk around in a daze wondering what the hell happened. My words are but only ONE SIDE of the retelling.
The birth of our first son created a family. The adoration that we both held for this child was endless, and only multiplied the feelings that we had for each other as man and wife. I was a stay at home mom, and he was the provider. The lines of responsibility were established and agreed upon. Most of our disagreements stemmed from the complications of allowing our extended family far too much control in decisions that should have been our own. In the early years, I believed that my marriage was good. Sadly, good would not be good enough to face the trials ahead.
The birth of our second son created a divide. I only witnessed my husband cry a handful of times related to the devastating news of Grant’s condition. He would later admit that he felt someone had to stay strong because he knew I was falling apart. Perhaps things could have been different if he would have been vulnerable and allowed me to be the one to comfort. Through my haze of heartbreak, I was beyond jealous that after the initial shock, it seemed everyone returned to life as usual. There I stood in the rubble after the explosion, desperately hoping a hero would materialize to save the day. I had adopted the stance of a warrior and mentally noted those that were not able to miraculously guess the exact words and actions that I needed. My anger, resentment, and loneliness dominated every waking moment.
Hours spent in waiting rooms filled with beautiful children that would never experience a “normal” childhood formed deep wounds in my soul. The parents smiled politely trying to make quiet conversation in the midst of unspeakable distress. Sitting in front of the doctors, I hid behind the shield of the “Loving Mother” persona I carefully constructed. The thought of crying or screaming was never entertained. Believing that somehow revealing the truth would certainly earn a black mark on Grant’s chart, and refute the inspirational mirage seen by the outside world. At the end of the day, I would report the latest findings, signs of improvement, or changes in care to Grant’s Dad. But there was no way to accurately express in words the emotions evoked by these experiences. Both of us continued to walk forward, traveling down opposites sides of the streets of our suffering.
I had a choice. I could be a Mrs. and somehow find my way back to my husband, or I could be a mother and pour all that I had into my sons. My tragically unspoken decision was communicated when I withheld affection, depended on others for support and guidance, built up a wall, and refused to ask for what I truly needed. In hindsight, I can now recognize there were a million options available. These truths can only be grasped after a storm has passed. The wife that I could have been vanished. There would barley be enough time to mourn her, before I would lose what little control I had over my precarious existence.