This post, for lack of a better term, has more in common with a journal entry than its counterparts. If this interests you please read on. If not perhaps this forward saved you a bit of time.
I find I'm having a difficult day today. The emotional unrest began last night. The difficulty began in truth one year and nine months ago.
Yesterday Athena and I went into town to purchase some chocolate I'll be sending in a "thank you" package and a stuffed animal for Festus. Yesterday was Festus' first birthday. I kept wondering that day if we should do something to commemorate the significance of this anniversary. I asked Athena for her thoughts. She preferred the day go unmarked. It wasn't until we went to bed that night after a very tiring day that I began to feel uneasy. Something felt amiss. I didn't know how to put it. I felt as though I should have done something to recognize and signify my experience of what happened one year ago on that day. After talking about it for 15 minutes or so I came to the conclusion that the more honest approach was to allow ambivalence to have its place. I didn't need a name for this feeling because I had never had it before. I didn't need to know what it was so long as I listened and knew where it came from.
Today, through a curious coincidence, I found myself once again driving to the home of Athena's parents on the same road that lead to the birthcenter. The light was different but so much was the same. The colors of the trees and the blooming wildflowers on the side of the road were all the same. I remembered what happened exactly 366 days earlier. I remembered the crying. I remembered the screaming. I remembered the smell of blood, a face of terror, and the deepest throbbing ache in my heart I will ever know. I remember visiting my father in the waiting room. I remember how surprised and relieved I was that someone in my family actually came. I remember equal surprise when he refused to see his first grandchild. I remember carrying Athena with her father to the car. I remember carrying her into the house with him again. I remember the look on Ms Scarlet's face when we first introduced her to Festus. Prof Plum wore a big, toothy grin. We drank champagne out of paper cups. Two hours later, weary beyond anything I could imagine, I lay Athena down on an air mattress in her parent's den. We lay together and cried. Eventually we fell asleep.
I am very happy for my son's first birthday. I am glad to know how much his mom and dad love him. I am very sad that one year ago Athena had the most painful and traumatizing experience of her life. I mourn the father that I am not. There is still a part of me that doesn't believe I made the "right" choice. A part of me believes that I should have chosen to parent without regard to the happiness of my son.
My elder brother, E. once asked me "why are you doing this to your family? Why are you putting us through this?" I explained that I couldn't lie to myself, and I couldn't accept how removed from the rest of the family I would become were either of my brothers to parent my son. The idea of the cliche "older brother to the rescue" on a scale this large would mean not looking my family in the face again. It would mean leaving them behind. E. responded that I wouldn't be the screw up. "You'd be the hero of this family." That's the funny part of it. After making the decisions that I did my family can now look at them and say it would have been heroic to ask a brother to parent my son. It would seem so altruistic to save them from the experience they've now had. But had they not experienced it, would I still be considered a hero for making the same choice? Had I never placed Festus with Ms Scarlet and Prof Plum would anyone in my family consider placing within the family heroic? I honestly don't think so. Had I placed within the family I suspect that parenting Festus would then appear to be the more appropriate choice. Had I chosen to parent marrying Athena would appear to be the better choice. For each step taken deeper into the comfort zone of my family there is always going to be another step deeper they want. In this situation perfect didn't feel good enough. So instead of the perfect choice I tried to make the choice that would give us a chance at being family again. I don't know if I did a very good job of that. I tried my best but it may not have been enough. I allowed my family to hurt. My hope was they could then recognize my pain as well. More so I knew protecting my family from the truth of my experience would hurt me exponentially more than their responses to pain.
I'm sad today. My family relationships are difficult at best. I see my son once a month but know he will never look to me for comfort. I'll not be one he runs to. Is this better than the alternatives that were available to me at the time? I think so. But even the best life hurts. The happiest people cry. Today is just a bad day.