I wanted to establish a new tradition with my children, as their father and I are no longer husband and wife. I wanted them to know that although we were no longer together, we were still a family, still connected forever. I wanted to teach them about forgiveness and acceptance, redemption and love.
Little did I know I would be the one receiving the lesson.
“Come to the cottage the third week of August”, I had commanded them, my children who were no longer babies, but how I continue to see them.
“Wherever you are from now on, whatever you do with your life, always keep in the back of your mind we will always get together the third week of August. It may not be here at the Lake, it may be another place, it may even be at home. But it is the week we will all be together.”
I had made all the arrangements, all the schedules intact, all the transporting accomplished. On child in the service obviously couldn’t make it, and another couldn’t get the time off work. One daughter was traveling with my grandkids and would arrive later, a wonderful surprise.
With a request could she bring her father with her, the biggest surprise was that he wanted to come.
Still smarting over what he viewed as my leaving abandonment, he was able to put aside whatever feelings he had towards me and spend this time together with our children and grandchildren.
Aware that I am with someone else, he was able to see past the immediate and looks towards the future. His future will be with someone new, not the familiar and comfortable me. What was important now was our children, the wonderful men and women we had raised, a history not totally full of anger or betrayal, but the history of young love and growing family. It is that which we will hold on to and draw strength from when things are hard to bear, tough to deal with. It was a wonderful example of love and forgiveness for our babies.
We ate a meal together without anger or anguish, the first dinner since the beginning of the end, so many years ago. A simple meal of hot dogs, hamburgers & beans, a soothing dessert of smores and fresh, hot coffee. Barely speaking to each other directly, we knew what we had to do.
I had done this before, remained friends with a former husband, but this was different. The first time we were so young and immature, the only reminder of the union was a beautiful son. This reunion was unique, a long history shared and many wonderful memories to replay and relive. Not to go back, not to wish things were different. Just to hold in the palm of our hand, examine and appreciate when what was good was great, and what wasn’t was left behind. We will part as friends.
After the goodbyes and the oldest left with her father, I sat back with yet another cup of coffee to revel in what I had witnessed. He has not forgiven me, but I had forgiven myself. He has allowed himself to be part of the life I want, in whatever form it takes for him, whatever limitations I decree. For all we have is today. Yesterday is over and tomorrow still a glimmer in our minds, vapors in a cloudless sky. Our children now see us as we really are.
A wonderful lesson learned again at the direction of the Creator, May my eyes always remain open and aware to the beauty around me, to be thankful for the gifts of life, the snippets of happiness we can all cherish.
It’s the thankfulness of the heart that keeps life fulfilling. The first step in healing is forgiveness, of not just others, but of our selves as well.
The third week of August will be different next year, I am certain. But I will be forever changed and remember.
It’s the week we all moved on.
Seven years have passed since we had our first gathering on the lake. It was not the lake I live at now, but it would not have mattered if it had been. It was a foreign a place as any for my children who were coming to terms with what I had done.
I had looked at it all one day and decided that I no longer belonged there, with their father and the life we had made together. For those on the outside looking in, it looked like a foolish and cruel thing to do, to pack it all in after 25 years and walk away. Only those closest to me would understand why I had done what I did and why I hung in for so long.
The Third Weeks in August are somewhat different now. Although they are always welcome to come to the lake to see Nana and Grampa Steve, they no longer come alone.
Now there are wives and boyfriends, aunts, uncles and cousins; new babies and babies yet to show their faces. They are all loved and welcomed here, as they have missed the circumstances leading up this idyllic paradise where their mother now lives.
I can even imagine their father coming one day for a visit to stick his toes in the cool water, look out to see the white puffy clouds and feel the love of family wash over him.
The Third Week in August will always hold a special place in my heart. It is the week of compassion, forgiveness and family.
Probably the best gifts we give each other, and ourselves