Sometimes Daddy

I do not love him anymore. So I have peace.

But Levi does. Levi will never have the peace that I can have. So mine is interrupted by his sorrow, his ache that’ll never leave him.

Studies show that even adult children still dream of their parents being together. The ache gets lighter, not so much a burden, but deep in the pockets of his soul, he’ll always long for us to be his at the same time.

To not have happy and sad always tied into one.

A few nights ago I went to pick him up from his father's. I had run 4 miles earlier, my face already tanned and warm from the sun. I showered, put my pajamas on, and drove the hour to his house. I had my windows rolled down, the breeze welcome in my hair. The sun was deep in the sky when I pulled into their driveway, pink and orange, showing off. Levi and his dad were outside, passing a football.

I turned my car off, leaned back, let my tired legs relax, listening to the sound of Levi’s boyish high pitched laughter, to the birds chirping in the tree beside me. I motioned to his dad to keep playing, that I could wait. I couldn’t strip Levi of this one on one time he so rarely gets now with him.

I let the calm of the evening settle into me. I heard a window being rattled, then heard the shrieks of laughter from Levi’s little brother and sister. His dad looked up at them, waved and blew kisses and talked with such affection. Levi came jogging over to my car, sweat forming in his curls.

I couldn’t help but see the contrast. These two babies who have their dad all the time. Have full access to him, to all he is. Levi was his little brother's age when we split, and I let myself imagine for a moment the pain that would cause his new family. And Levi, going back to kiss his father goodbye, and walk slowly to my car, sadness dripping off of him. Before he even shut his door, the words came tumbling out.

I miss daddy.

Daddy, right there, still in front of us in the yard, picking up nerf gun bullets. Daddy, there, but yet so far away. Scheduled daddy, sometimes daddy, daddy to others, daddy. Not fully his, daddy.

I’ve run out of words for moments like these. Where he watches his father as I drive away. I tell him I know, and let him feel it. There is no use in having him push it away, that pain is always threatening him. Lately he hasn’t wanted to go to his father’s house, and although he can’t verbalize totally why yet, I suspect it’s because he doesn’t want to leave him. So if he doesn’t go, he doesn’t ever have to leave.

The leaving is always the hardest part.

Those days it never feels like a victory. It’s hard to find the hope or the brightness of the future. It’s easy to drown in his suffering.

But we don’t. We let it wash over us, swim through it until we hit shore, stand on solid ground again, sandy may it be. Maybe we don’t have our balance, maybe it still feels like we’re sinking, but we’re there, together.

Every little boy needs their daddy. All the time.

Kids are not as resilient as we like to pretend they are. That’s just something we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better about the choices we make. Yes, kids will adapt, but that doesn’t mean something in them didn’t break along the way.

So even though I do not love him anymore, I must watch my son love him, and lose him, over and over again.

But, the dark will never be too dark. Together we’ll find peace.

I will carry his cross beside him, every step of the way.


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