Sunday, June 27, 2010
Finding My Grateful Heart
As Dad tells stories, one of the things most present to me is how blessed we--his children--have been. Through intelligence and hard work and love and loyalty, he and my mother transmuted our lives. The timing of my nephew's text about the limousines was ironic, to say the least, and I couldn't stop thinking about the metaphorical distance between the childhoods of my father and my children.
Those of you who've been reading a while know that my former husband can be...difficult. And loyalty is not his strong suit. And...well...you know. But the challenging things about him are not the whole of him. The truth is, he is part of the reason our children will never live in a boxcar. His intelligence and hard work have contributed to our family's journey.
Thursday morning, after a night of fitful sleep and constant thought-loops about all this, I called him. Very briefly (he hates to hear me talk) I outlined the story of the boxcar and the limo. And then I thanked him for his part in the safety and comfort our children enjoy.
He did not say a word. I waited a moment, and then said, "That's all I need to say. Just 'thank you.'" More silence. "Good-bye."
In a voice so tight you could feel his vocal cords vibrate, he choked out, "Thank you for calling."
We hung up without another word.
Friday, he called to ask me to find a way to get Evan fitted for a tux for a wedding in his step-family. "If I just ask him to do it, nothing will get done. Can you help?" After receiving the emailed measurements on Saturday, he called to thank me. He was gracious and kind.
We've exchanged more pleasant words this week than we have in some years since our divorce.
Now, I've been down this road long enough to know this isn't a storybook happy ending. We will not ride off into some rosy sunset. We will not hold hands around campfires, singing Kum Ba Yah. But it is a crack in the wall of bitterness and anger between us, an opening in my own heart as well as his. Because, as much as I've worked on forgiveness, as much as I've tried to let go of resentment, the best I've ever managed is a shaky kind of inner detente. I may not dwell on the old anger, but I certainly leap to new irritation when his present actions confirm my beliefs about him. And the thing is, Anais Nin was right. We see things not as they are, but as we are.
A grateful heart is a fine filter through which to see the world. I'm working on it.
Photo courtesy of Haiyen