I cried over Mexican food today. I didn’t cry about it, I literally cried over it. Tears dropping into my chicken tortilla soup. (I moved on to the quesadilla at that point.) I was eating lunch with my daughter, who was having a tough day. She has a boyfriend who is sweet and wonderful and she’s all in. And that scares the living bejesus out of her.
As we talked, my daughter expressed her profound fear of loving…and then losing. She is afraid that, if it were to happen, the pain of loss would be too much to bear. As I tried to reassure her that everything was going to be alright, she stopped me and said…
“You and dad used to love each other and look how that turned out.”
And then my tears came. I wasn’t hurt or offended or angry by her statement. She wasn’t wrong. That is exactly what happened. But it’s the short version. The abbreviated, cut to the chase, read the first and last chapter story of our marriage. What was missing was all the good stuff in the middle.
So, taking a deep breath and getting the words out in-between sobs, I told my baby the truth. I told her that her dad and I loved each other. That we had the most fun when we were together. That she and her sister were, and are, everything to us. That the great times we had together, as a couple and as a family, were real and meaningful. That our happiness together is the greatest love story that I have ever known.
And then I humbly acknowledged that we screwed up. He and I. When problems with addiction crept in, neither of us did anything substantive about it until that fateful night when he didn’t come home. And then the damage was done. Not irreparable, because there is always redemption and forgiveness and hope. But there is also change. Things would never be the same, and yet…
…I wouldn’t amend the love story. Even if I had known at the beginning how the story was going to end, I would have still chosen Stephen. I would have still chosen love. If I had passed up the love for fear of hurt, I would have missed so much. A loving partner who reminded me that I can do all things and held my hand when I was afraid. An amazing, hands-on, knows how to do kickass piggy tails, father to our girls. The person who brought me the most joy, and the most excruciating pain that I have ever known. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
My daughter nodded as tears streamed down her cheeks.
Baby, please don’t let the fear of pain keep you from the love. It’s totally worth it.