Thursday, November 27, 2008

"The Family Unit Must Remain Together"

Last summer, I took my sons to the amusement park. The boys are almost the same height so an amusement park trip would be fine with one parent. We could easily stay together. Although I’ve been a full-time mom for eleven years and have done just about everything possible, I’d never ventured to an amusement park with them alone.

Twenty years ago when my husband and I started dating, we had the reputation of doing everything together. When we were married, we couldn’t understand all the couples that split up errands on the weekends. Grocery shopping and all those other tasks were never fun, but when we were together it didn’t matter. We were together.

During the summer months we always visit amusement parks as a family, sometimes camping exclusively for this purpose. But for the first time, I was in an amusement park without my husband. Both my sons will jump on any ride, no matter how treacherous. We went on the swings but then hit the two big wooden roller coasters. Then we changed to bathing suits and threw ourselves down the water slides. Laughing and teasing, we enjoyed every part of the park and were happy to be together.

Although enjoying the thrills, a part of me was missing. The four person water slide would have been faster without that empty seat, not to mention I couldn’t carry the giant tube without help from a fine young man in the group behind us. The roller coaster seat next to me was empty all the time. The experience felt slightly lonely.

Recently, my best friend lost his partner of 23 years in a terrible, unusual accident. He called me that morning when the police told him to call someone. It reminded me of September 11th when people jumped out of the World Trade Center holding hands. Everyone started to think about who they would hold hands with to jump. Who would you call if you found your spouse dead? Who’s going to hold your hand? I was one of many that showed up that day and the experience was a nightmare, a horror.

I felt guilty for going home to my husband.

At the amusement park I missed my husband in a small way, knowing that my friend feels this way about every single moment of the day without relief. I knew that my family would be together for our regular evening dinner, but my friend’s loss never ends. I feel his pain because we have been so close. He’s always the one I call when I feel down. He never fails to put my situations in perspective and cut to the chase about the other people in my life.

So I understand the pain of his loss. I even feel it but I can’t fix it. He has to reinvent his family with his son. A new life needs to be created.

This fall our oldest nephew went to college. His dad and I always keep up with each other and share the news. They cried when he left. I tried to console him by emphasizing what a wonderful job they had done with their son. He’s a remarkable young man who I admire. He’s a caring person who learned sign language and has a full scholarship to college – tuition, room and board. The change in their family is just so large.

Although I’m thick in the middle of my family with a young child who can’t be left alone, I know there are changes coming. Not yet, but soon. Even now the oldest one has all day and weekend commitments and the younger one goes to sleepovers .The family unit is not together all the time like it used to be. I’m thankful for the times we are.

I’m also thankful for the friends who dropped everything to be with me when I needed them this year, and most of all, I’m thankful for the strength we give each other to get through life’s changes.

No comments:

Post a Comment