Anyone who knows me personally, after seeing the title of this post, has probably thought, “okay, Paul has finally lost it.” I am normally quite strict about the time frame for recognizing the Christmas season. But this year it is different.
Before I get started, I need to preface with this, I have a lot of health issues, some quite serious. I have good days, and I have bad days. But it was a conversation that I once had with my late brother-in-law that taught me, there will be days when I need to give myself a break. We were at the dinner table, and both of us were dealing with swallowing issues related to our health. My issues were related to radiation damage from cancer treatments. His issue was related to Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The key difference, he was going to eventually pass away from his disease. We both were having swallowing difficulties. But it was as he saw me struggle, and then me just trying to “suck it up” and hide what I was going through, he made the following comment to me. “Look, yes, I am going to die, and just because you may not die from yours, that does not make the issues you are going through any less real, or painful. You need to cut yourself some slack.”
And so it goes with this post. This past Sunday was Father’s Day. For the first time in my life, I was not with my daughters on Father’s Day. Let’s be clear, I was legally kept from being with my daughters as a result of my ongoing divorce process. Now for those in my life who think that my current residence has anything to do with not being allowed to see my children, absolutely not. If I were living next door to them right now, I would not have been able to be with them. There are a couple of processes under way right now to correct this situation which would have allowed me to be with my daughters, but other than my estranged wife and I agreeing to let the processes work out, which has not happened, I have no choice but to wait for the two systems go their course. Were my daughters sad they could not be with me? Sure they were. Was I sad? I was devastated.
I assured my daughters this was the last year that I was going to let another holiday or event go by without being allowed to be with them. And just as I mentioned the health reference, the situation with custody with my daughters seemed very similar to keep in perspective.
First, my daughters are adopted from a foreign land. They never knew either parent. They never got to know their foster parents, though I have information for them when they are older to pursue this knowledge if they so choose. My daughters have suffered huge losses already in their lives, never to be replaced.
I have several friends and family members who have lost a child. Every year, Father’s Day comes around, and all it does is remind of a permanent loss. For some children, on holidays such as Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, the loss of a parent also is a solemn day, rather than a Hallmark and FTD windfall occasion. Just last year, my father passed away from lung cancer.
That being said, my heart goes out to everyone who has suffered such permanent losses. And yes, the time that I have lost with my daughters is only temporary, and cannot compare to the death of a loved one. But that does not mean that the pain that my daughters and I feel is any less real, or any less expected.
So now I look forward. With the last of the special holidays taken away from me over the past year, I have my sights set on the Christmas season. I have to let the processes I mentioned earlier to work out, and unfortunately, as I explain to my daughters, “grown ups some times take a long time to decide on things.” It is still a long way, but I have dealt with far worse, for longer periods of time. And just like that, I can deal with this also. All I want for Christmas is to hold my daughters again.