We Learned to Be Friends
Rob and I were in our early twenties when his mom was killed in a car accident. That day changed our lives in so many ways. We thought it would be a good idea to be close to his family, so in the wake of tragedy, we packed up and moved to Florida. I blame my youth for how badly I handled those challenging times. I’ve done just that for so long, in fact, I honestly think I believe it myself. Yet, when I am alone and dare to take a closer look at my life, I realize the bad judgements and decisions resulted from a spectrum of things. Now that grief is one of my best friends, I understand how selfish I was. I was jealous of my deceased mother-in-law because it felt like she had all of Rob. Of course she did! I stand naked with shame on this issue. I believe if Rob had any energy at the time, he would have divorced me - and God, how I deserved it.
Rob and his sister, Kelly, had always been very close to their mother. Their dad, Bob, never understood them and didn’t put much effort into trying. He didn’t realize that they were shattered beyond belief. Night after night, Rob and Kelly struggled to make sense of what had happened. They tried so hard to intertwine their lives with Bob. It was absolutely disgusting to see him turn his back on them when they needed him most. Broken promises and the disappointment in Bob’s voice hit them squarely in the heart every single time.
I kept telling them to walk away from this man, that he wasn’t worthy of knowing his son and daughter - they simply didn’t listen, and I see now that they couldn’t. They wanted him to love them in return, he just never did. Rob held out the white flag many years ago, but Kelly never gave up on him. She gave him chance after chance until the day she died.
I was always closer to my mom than I was to my dad. I know that my reasons were valid at the time, but now, he’s all I’ve got. To this day, I’m not sure how this happened. He was never expected to out-live my mom. He has the bad heart, she was hardy to a fault. And yet, my dad and I stand at the stone that marks my mother’s final resting place. We are now very close, but I didn’t have a choice. If I didn’t learn to love my dad the way I loved my mother, he would surely go away as well. It is I who takes care of him, I am his lifeline, and I accepted this duty with a pure heart.
Bob missed out. I wish I felt bad for him, but I honestly don’t. I dried Rob and Kelly’s tears in the aftermath of his carelessness. This is why I consider myself lucky to have gotten close to my dad after my mom’s departure. He was standing at the door with open arms and a loving heart. I felt like the prodigal daughter that had finally made it home. Even though it is a new home, it is one filled with laughter and love over an evening fire. But my favorite? When I’m about to leave after one of our morning walks, he always tells me how much he loves me. “I love you too, dad. I always did. I just had to take a different road to get back. Thank you for welcoming me home.”
Hope your week is fantastic. Let’s talk again tomorrow. I’ll bring the coffee. -Ruth