Soul Sunday: Heartbreaks and Heroes

I’ve written how my first novel found inspiration in my mom’s real-life heartbreak and my late grandmother’s family history relating to the Titanic, and with my third novel releasing on Tuesday–eep!–I thought I’d share how I got my start in publishing.

The first thing I ever published was a parenting article in the Vancouver Province, in May of 1999. It was not the first article I sold, however. That honour belongs to an article I wrote originally titled “Loving Ties” that was bought by Canadian Living Magazine in January of 1999 and published in October of the same year with the editor’s choice of title: Saying Goodbye, Again and Again.

I was in tears by the time I finished writing the article. Twenty years later, it still makes me cry.

Time takes the edge off of heartbreak, but it never diminishes the loss, and in the end, my ex, and our children, were the biggest losers. They’re also heroes, for they never let those repeated heartbreaks diminish their love for each other. If anything, the network of healed scars on their hearts only helps strengthen their bond…

I copied the article below, for your interest…

Saying Goodbye, Again and Again

Copyrighted Material, World Rights 1999-present. 

            “I love you.  I’ll see you later, OK?” says my ex-husband, his voice muffled by our daughter’s hair as he gives her a bear hug.  Quickly he embraces our son, then turns away.  Stepping into his truck he puts it in gear and with a little wave is gone.  Our children, aged 11 and 9, break into the sobs they’ve managed to keep under control until their father’s taillights recede around the corner.  I watch him go, tears pricking my eyes, and wait until I can swallow the lump in my throat before getting into our truck to join my new husband and our two children, aged three and two.

Seeing my ex-husband’s stiff back and averted gaze each time we meet for me to collect our children makes my heart ache.  I know how hard he is trying to keep it together for our children so they can feel o.k. about leaving. My ex-husband’s greatest fear when we divorced was losing a full-time relationship with our children, and these partings only serve to remind him of what he’s lost.  I want to pull him into my arms and whisper words of comfort just as I do to console our children, but I don’t. 

In the truck, my two oldest children sit in the rear seat, one on either side of the baby.  They bury their heads in their pillows and cry tears of loss, again.  The two youngest children and their father sit uncomfortably, looking from the older kids to me for some sort of signal.  I smile wearily and say, “Let’s go.”  My husband nods, shifts the truck into gear, and we pull onto the freeway entrance and begin our 600-km journey back home.

Five times a year, during school breaks, we make this journey so my two oldest children can visit their father. We have done this for over four years now since my eldest children and I moved from the lower mainland of British Columbia, to live with the new man in our lives in the West Kootenays, and these partings have not gotten any easier. 

My children’s lives and mine are more stable now.  The conflict between my first husband and myself is no longer a part of our lives, and our new lifestyle offers me the opportunity to stay home with the children.  My husband loves his stepchildren as much as he does his own biological sons, and together we make every effort to ensure our children have everything they need.  We spend a lot of time together doing things like camping in the summer and tobogganing in the winter; we have a good life full of love and laughter.  But, when I see my oldest children’s faces full of anguish at leaving their father behind again and hear the pain echoed gruffly in my ex-husband’s voice as he says goodbye, I am filled with an overwhelming sadness.

My relationship with my ex-husband was never a healthy one and ending the marriage with him does not cause me grief any longer.  It is the knowledge that despite the problems he and I had, he has always done his best to be a good father to our children.  He has always found a place for them in his life and paid child support every month without fail.  He has never shirked his parental responsibilities, but he is the one who must let our children go, time and time again.

I don’t expect that these partings will ever get easier, but I do hope that my children will come to understand how lucky they are to have parents who love them as much as we do.  I can only pray that in the future they will not blame me for the distance that now separates them from their father, and that they will appreciate the sacrifices their father, their stepfather, and me, have made to give them the best of both worlds.

My ex-husband and I will share a lifetime linked through our children, and I give thanks for the courageous, loving man that he is.  Between him and my new husband, my children and me have truly been blessed and I am grateful.  Eventually there may come a day when my two eldest will express a desire to live with their father and I will let them go.  Then it will be my turn to say goodbye, and as selfish as it sounds, I hope they will cry for me too. 

I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next.

~Gilda Radner

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