Monday, February 23, 2015
All That Distance
It's such a simple little note. But it tore me to shreds when I found it.
The little boy who wrote this - the amazing, smart, funny, clumsy, aggravating, loving, sarcastic, lovable little boy with the huge blue eyes - hasn't seen or heard from his father in a year.
His father told me a year ago today - as we were in the process of moving to our new house in a better school district with less crime and more room where our son could finally have his very own bedroom for the first time in his life - he told me that I couldn't expect him to drive "all that distance" to see his boy.
All that distance. Those words rang in my ears as I told him flat-out "if you can't make seeing your son a priority in your life, that's YOUR problem, not mine".
All that distance. He can't drive it to see his son, but he can drive it to play in a softball tournament. I know he did, because I saw him that day, right here in the same town where we live now.
All that distance. He can't drive it to see his son, but his wife can bring their other two kids to town to go swimming in the pool that's less than a mile from our house. I know about that because a mutual friend saw them there and mentioned it to me later.
All that distance. He can't drive it to see his son, but he can drive triple that distance to have a birthday party for his daughter and not even bother to invite his son. I found out about that one when another friend shared some pictures with me.
All that distance. In this day and age, distance doesn't really matter, does it? There are cell phones and computers and Skype and FaceTime and emails and texts just to say hi or to send a funny picture or to find out why his insurance company is suddenly getting bills for emergency room visits and plastic surgeons and allergist appointments.
All that distance, in reality, is 15 miles. FIFTEEN MILES. That's how far it is from my house to the town where he (supposedly) lives. I say "supposedly" because I have no idea, honestly. I know he moved, but the last I had heard he had only moved a few blocks away from where he had been living - but I was never given an address. Thanks to my phone getting run over by a car one day, I no longer have his phone number so I can't just call him - but even if I did, why should I? He's made it clear that all that distance is too much for him. He's pulled this crap before (although not for this long) and always comes crawling back with a bunch of excuses about how he was oh-so-busy and just didn't have time to make contact. I've tried to force the relationship, and it just didn't work.
And that sucks.
But you know who it sucks for the most?
Him. He's the one who is missing out. He's the one who missed the baseball games and the soccer games and the basketball games. He missed the parent/teacher conferences and the open houses and Christmas and birthday and Thanksgiving and everything else. He's the one who may be a willing participant in fatherhood with his other kids, but who has made the choice to walk out on this one.
For this amazing little boy though? He's going to be just fine. He has a mother who loves him no matter how much trouble he gets himself into, he has siblings that can't wait to hang out with him and goof around with him, he has The Dude to show him all of the necessary manly stuff, he has teachers who can't get over how smart (and mischievous) he can be, and he has friends knocking at the door almost every single day wanting him to go out and play with them.
All that distance that he's put between himself and his son is only going to hurt him in the long run - because we are just fine.