Yesterday, June 12th, marked the one-year anniversary of Luca’s departure from my house. The circumstances that led to his living full-time with his dad were hellish and have been described to some small degree in earlier posts. Keeping my angry son in the house became untenable–but living with his absence this past year has been excruciating, beyond description. It has been a lose-lose situation.
Below is the first of many letters I wrote to Luca, but never sent. I got the idea to chronicle my attempts to see him, our strained, sometimes good visits, and mostly, my thoughts about him and the unfortunate shakedown of the divorce. I didn’t–and still don’t–know if I would ever show him the letters, but I wanted to commit to record that I have never stopped thinking about him or loving him. Not for a moment. I wanted the possibility of proving to him that I didn’t forget him, that I didn’t stop wishing he were with me.
The process of writing the letters led to the birth of Perils of Divorced Pauline. I realized that my original idea had grown too big for itself, too big for Luca or for me, and demanded to be a blog.
The letter below was written for Luca, but, I believe, speaks to all children and parents impacted needlessly and senselessly by high-conflict divorce.
June 22, 2010
It was ten days ago that Atticus took you to Dad’s—ten days since I have seen you, except for briefly at your sixth grade graduation last Thursday.
If I could have spoken to you at your graduation, I would have told you how awed I was by your solo. You sang beautifully–strong and clear. You seemed to take pride in your voice and you “owned” your solo. I was surprised, because I don’t often hear you sing. Witnessing your talent introduced me to a part of you I didn’t know existed. I was so proud of you.
You walked by me sitting on the bleachers and asked me why I was crying. I didn’t answer or look at you because I had promised to stay out of your space. Also, you seemed angry and I knew anything I said would likely make you angrier.
I was crying for two reasons. First, I was sad beyond words that you had to leave my house. Since your dad and I split up seven years ago, I was afraid this day—the day that you went to live with your dad–would come. I did everything I could to stave it off, but I couldn’t. For years you have wanted to be with your dad—maybe things had to get bad enough so there would be no other option. But I cried because it is painful beyond words to lose you.
Second, I watched you at the front of the stage, so handsome in your suit pants, your collared shirt and tie. I saw a young person in transition. No longer quite a boy, not yet a man. In a couple weeks, you will turn 13, and your childhood years will be behind you. What made me cry was the realization that the bulk of those years has been lost to the awful conflict between your dad and me. I cried for the loss of your childhood, and for the fact that I couldn’t protect you from the conflict.
You are very angry with me now. You are not quite 13, so it is impossible for you to understand the complexities of our family dynamic. No almost-13-year-old could understand—it is hard enough for adults. I hope that one day, when you’re older, you will start to see shades of gray. I hope you will see that there isn’t one Good Parent and one Bad Parent, but two very human, very fallible parents who each thought they were doing the best thing for you and who made mistakes along the way.
I feel your absence every day. It is strange, and wrenching, to walk by your room, so neat and empty without you. I keep thinking one day I will walk by and you will be sitting on your bed doing card tricks or tinkering with a widget, or hanging out with your friends from the neighborhood, Matthew and Diego.
The corn vendor honks his horn as he pedals by…but you’re not here to run down the sidewalk after him. Law and Order SVU plays at 10 p.m. on TV…but you’re not on the family room couch watching it. Did we ever finish watching The Blind Side together? You loved that movie, said it was the best you’d ever seen, and asked me to watch it with you.
Maybe one day we’ll watch it all the way through together.