A late night scramble onto the balcony outside my bedroom, a stealth tiptoe up stairs, an early morning getaway. It was fun to sneak around, like teenagers, stealing kisses. But there comes a point when it feels deceitful. It’s a sticky place to be.Â You want to make sure its right before you announce the occurrence of a sleepover. That the relationship is on solid ground â€“ something that can feel both certain and elusive at the same time. It’s the uncertainty that makes definite proclamations difficult, but after talking it over with several friends, I realized it was time to come clean.
By now my kids are old enough to get it. There is no pulling the “we’re just good friends” wool over their eyes. I don’t want to teach them that sneaking around is the proper way to conduct a relationship because I don’t want them doing it (!). It was time to model what relationships can be, the wonderful, the scary, the awesome, the difficult.
I wondered over the years since Arron’s death, what I could possibly have taught my kids about relationships. There have been so few, and the early ones they don’t remember. I never considered that I might be teaching them about love in the way I grieved. But this year,Â I got am amazing mother’s day letter, where this was addressed:
“I knew what love was supposed to feel like because I not only felt it after losing him (daddy), but I primarily saw it within you.”
I was overwhelmed. Despite myself and the fact that I was only one person, I managed to show my children what love between two people looked like.
All very nice and ethereal, until there is the reality of a strange person’s shoes in the entry. FoldingÂ a new person into the mix comes with loss. Loss of old routines, old patterns, old habits, the kind that are sometimes difficult to let go of.
“How will I talk to you if he’s here?” I am asked. “The same as always,” I say. “and if it’s private then we will find a private place to talk.”
“I will never stop loving you, the same as I always did,” I say. “But its important for all of us that I am able to live my life too, just I as I allow you to live yours. I may not always agree with your choices, but I will respect them, just as I hope you will do for me.”
They are old enough to hear this now. Can understand it. And I’m finally in a place where I am strong enough to say it. A key piece of this puzzle is the leeway he gives meÂ to do and say what I need to in order to pave the way for him, so that he can come into our lives in whatever way he chooses. And he gives me time. Because in the end, I realize, it’s always time that makes the difference. With time, the tiny adjustments can get made, little-by-little, step-by-step until one day you look back and you realize you are right where you need to be.
A new basketball net has arrived in our yard, the workings of a pellet gun explained and there is talk of jet-ski paint balling. Whole new worlds are opening up before our eyes.