Instant Message of Pain

I sat in front of the television, laptop balanced on my lap two days later.  It was ten or so, the little ones in bed, my husband in Michigan.  He worked there now, about eight days a month, him having been given the job after all but it being determined that it wasn’t a big enough piece of the pie for the company to have to move us there.  It meant he was gone every other week for a few days, and at this point in our life, I was OK with it.  I liked that he could reconnect with his parents and sometimes my sister and brother in law (he’d taken my niece to a hockey game a few months back as a graduation gift) when he was there, sometimes, and it gave us a little breathing room from each other.  It wasn’t so hard, with both of the kids now in school, to have him gone sometimes.  I relished, in fact, the quiet evenings when he was away, like this one, when I could sit in front of my computer, or overdose on my Grey’s Anatomy DVD collection.

I hadn’t heard from Zachary yet, though, and I knew what that meant.  He had said he would call me when Pat (his biological aunt on his father’s side) had emailed him back with the arrangement information for his grandmother’s funeral.  I’d already found it, over a day ago, online.  I felt badly for the family, of course, but I read it with interest.  There were the three surviving daughters, Pat and another sister who both still lived in Michigan, and Zach’s biological grandmother, who was listed as living in Seattle, WA.  I wondered what turns her life had taken since I’d last seen her to bring her so far away from her home.

I knew that the family right now was likely engaged in a grand discussion about my son.  Pat had promised to send him the arrangements, and they’d clearly been made, so why the delay in letting Z know?  It was surely because there was a debate going on right now about whether or not Z would be welcome.  I cringed at the thought of it.  While I surely didn’t want Zach to go to this funeral and experience all of the loss involved on so many different levels, I wanted it to be his decision.  And clearly, obviously, the family wasn’t sure about even giving him the opportunity to say yes or no.

“Hi Mom.”   The words popped up on my computer screen, an instant message from Z.  Sometimes he did this; like many his age, I think, he thought IMing was easier than reaching for the phone.

“Hey Z.”  But just as on the phone, the pauses in the typed words meant something.  It was harder to tell this way, but I could guess.

I should just get right to the point.  “Have you heard from them?”  I typed into the box.

Thirty full seconds ensued.  My son was a fast typist; this meant that he was uncomfortable about giving me the answer.  “No,” was all that came back.

“I’m sorry,” I answered.  “I know you weren’t even sure about going, but it should have been your decision.”

“Do you think they just haven’t finalized everything yet?”

Ouch.  Clinging onto hope, because he didn’t know, didn’t want to know.  My son knew how to use Google just as well as I did.  “Z, they have finalized everything.  It was online yesterday.”

More blank screen.  I wondered if he were crying, again.  “I feel like I missed my chance to know part of who I am,” he’d told me.  And I couldn’t do anything but listen.  Nothing more I could do to erase the pain that I’d given to my son by not being able to give him more of his father’s family.  If only I’d done more when he was younger, I thought.  “Well I guess that’s that,” he finally typed.  “Decision made.  As usual, not mine to make.”

I sighed and wished I had a glass of wine in my hand.  “I wish it were different, Z.  I tried to give you everything I could to make up for him, them, not being here.  But I guess nothing can fill that hole.”  It was the frankest statement I’d ever made to him about his missing father, and my own actions.

“My whole life, I thought he would come around, you know?  I really did.  It was like this unanswered question, my whole life.  And then when I went there two years ago, and they showed me all of these things about him, I knew.  I knew that when I looked in the mirror, that I looked like him.”  It was more than Z had ever said on the subject of his missing father, too.

“You do,” I typed in.  “You always have, from the day you were born.”

“Do you know he’s married?  Aunt Pat told me that.  He has two kids.  And here’s the kicker.  They ADOPTED them from China.  Adopted.  Like it wasn’t enough that he has had a kid he ignored his whole life, he had to go all the way to China to get some more when I was right here, all along.”

I was glad we weren’t on the phone.  The words were like a punch in the gut.  I had no idea that they had talked about Joe to Z, or that he was married and had kids.  I had always suspected that he would get married someday; he’d always seemed like that type of guy.  But the kids?  Wow.  Just, wow.  “So that’s some of those great grandkids mentioned in the obit,” I typed in, trying to encourage Z to keep going while covering my own shock and grief at the news.  Even though I was married and had more kids, it would have been nice to keep the fantasy that Joe had spent the rest of his life wandering the world, regretting his treatment of me.

“So the adopted kids from China will be there, and be considered her great grandkids, and welcome at the funeral, but I won’t be.  That kills me,” he continued on the computer screen.

By now I was crying.  I wanted to kill this bastard for hurting my son, my sweet son, who didn’t deserve this pain.  “I am so, so sorry, Z,” I typed in.

“It’s not your fault, Mom.  You did everything you could.”

I thought I had, truly.  But as usual, it wasn’t enough.


2 Responses

  1. Oh Amy, why are people so awful?? My own husband went through something similar, although he knew his father for a short time. And then his father was killed and his family just dismissed my husband. Totally cut him out of the inheritance (not that that is the issue). My husband was 5 when his father was killed. But the family just basically told him, to his face, walk away, you are no longer part of this family. Such tragedy!!! I’m so sorry for Z and for you!! But in the end it is their loss. I know this doesn’t help…..

  2. Debbie, that’s terrible. So sorry for what happened to your husband. I do wonder/worry what Z will feel and encounter as he gets married and has his own kids because of this in his history. Still, we all hold our heads up and get through the days. What else can you do?

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