The Art of Saying Nothing But I Love You
September 7, 2013 Leave a comment
I was reading The 7 Hardest-to-Answer Questions My Kids Have Ever Asked… And 2 Surprisingly Easy Ones here on The Good Men Project last week. While I liked it, I had trouble concentrating on it because I kept flashing back to the hardest question anyone has ever asked me. I tried for a week to stop thinking about it because it’s still painful after 6 years. Finally I gave in and began searching for my old private blog to find what I’d written about it then.
This is what I found, edited a bit for clarity and a fair amount for punctuation. This happened almost exactly one year after my ex helped us move back to California and our divorce became final.
It’s been a couple of months and the boys have been doing well for the most part. They still ask me when they can talk to him or why he doesn’t come to visit or call. They still try to include him in games we play and stories we tell, even though it’s just their idea of him. They still tell me how much they love him defiantly every so often…to see what I will say. I always say “of course!” because I don’t know what else to say and I don’t ever want them to think that isn’t OK to love him.
He’s been gone for almost a 1/4th of my 4 year old’s life now…and I think for him a lot of it is the idea of him. Not actual memories. I am sure there is a bond there but for him he doesn’t remember as much to miss. He doesn’t know this is not the normal way of dads in general or his dad in particular. It helps that he has always had that extra special bond with me. I know I read somewhere that it switches at different stages of development from one parent to the other so maybe is so strong because the other parent wasn’t around for his turn. But I tend to think we are special soul mates. Not that I love my 7 year old son any less at all. Only that my little one and I seem to understand each other in a way I don’t have with him.
I really feel that my older son lost the most in the break up of our family. I have heard him singing to himself, soulful rambling ballads of how much he misses his dad or how he “doesn’t have a dad…and that’s so sad.” Sometimes he acts out and I think he’s testing me or just freaking out in helplessness and fear and pain. Other times he is so full of life and joy he’s almost too bright to look at and I know exactly why I call him my little sunshine. But sometimes I catch him just looking sad. Or sometimes out of nowhere he will suddenly ask me things about where his dad is or why he can’t be there.
Tonight was one of those times. He was being rambunctious and silly. Then tormenting his brother and on and on, until suddenly he was quiet for a bit. Then he started talking to me on the monitor, asking me to call his dad and tell him to come to the play my son is going to be in on Monday. I said that I didn’t think he’d be able to make it on such short notice but that tomorrow he could call him and tell him all about it. He kept talking to me and I kept telling him he needed to go to sleep, that it was an hour and a half past his bedtime. Finally he said in this little voice “Mon (his special name for me), I want to talk to you.” Normally I say no after bedtime but something in his voice made me say yes and go up to sit with him.
I sit down and he says “Mon…tell me the story of you and Pie (his special name for his dad) breaking up.”
Crap, what do I say to that? And that was not the last really really hard question he asked. I can’t really tell you what I said. I think in the end I said a lot of “I don’t know” and “I love you.” Over and over in different ways, in different contexts and sentences. I tried to say as little as possible. No false hope, no condemnation of his dad, no adult details…pretty much nothing except I love you, I appreciate you, I want you with me, I would miss you if you were not here.
I’ve never worked so hard to say so little and so much before.
In the end I tucked him in and came downstairs and a few min later he says to me in this voice full of pain “Mon, I want to tell you I love you more than Pie” OMG I never knew hearing he loved me could hurt so much. So I tried to keep the tears out of my voice as I said “Sweetheart you have enough love inside of you to love me and Pie both more than the whole outer space” and he was quiet for a min…and then he sounded peaceful and a bit happy and he said “yeah…I just wanted to see what you’d say.” I reassured him that he could love us both totally and he got quiet.
I decided we needed to hold each other so I went up to his room again and we snuggled. He said to me, little man that he is, “It’s been a long time since we did this” I laughed and said “You’re getting to be such a big busy boy…but we should find more time to snuggle.” He said “yeah” and then held onto me like he hasn’t done in a very long time. When I finally tucked him in to go, he sat up and gave me a hug and an eskimo kiss. Then fell asleep almost right away.
I’m exhausted. He must be too.
I hurt for him. I can only cry and take deep breaths and remind myself that there is nothing more I can do tonight.