April 1, 2014

ANOTHER Open Letter To Catholic Spouses Who Think Divorce is the Answer

 You will walk down the hall to the benches, and you will see her in the conference room through the glass window. You catch a glimpse of your 16 year old daughter. You will hear the cough of your 15 year old son. You will sit outside the courtroom on one of the long line of pews lining the wall. You will finally see your attorney walking down the hall and you tell her to “have a seat” as you let her know that your kids are there and that if their Mother attempts to put them on the stand against you, you will not participate. You will go to jail before you become a part of the travesty of seeing your children become pawns in her desire to move out of state. You will do this not out of disrespect, but because of morals and principles. It is just plain wrong to involve children this deeply in an adult matter.

You will enter the court and set at the table across from her, the Mother of your kids, as you listen to her attorney relate how they have Parent-to-Child letters you have written to your children. Letters that tell the children of the errors both parents have made in this matter, that tell them of the errors they are making, that tell them they are breaking teachings of their Faith. You hear how they are upset with all you are saying, how it makes them feel bad, how it makes Mom feel bad. And you hurt inside, because all you are doing and have done is your duty, your vocation, in instructing your children of errors and dangers to their Faith. And even that has become something to marginalize and ostracize you.

You will become so agitated you are scribbling notes to your attorney while the other side is speaking to the judge, as your attorney is speaking to the judge. You scribble notes in a script you can barley read, your hands are shaking so because the other attorney is wanting the court to allow your kids testimony. Your kids are barely in their teens. They are 15. They are 16. They are 24. They are 19. And you hurt some more. You set there audibly saying “No!” “No!” as your attorney tries to shush you. And you hurt some more. And then, when the pain can be had no more, you simply turn aside and in an audible whisper say “Mother of God, help!”

You listen as the judge then decides custody counseling appears to be needed for all members. You are suddenly aware of the change. You are now aware this is what has always been needed and that the judge is going to mandate it. It will cost more than you have, but you agree to it for the sake of the kids. You will do what is necessary, you tell the court…you will sell what is necessary, you tell the court, for the sake of your kids to pay this cost. You are ecstatic – and you are humbled that the Mother of God has deigned to answer an anguished plea from Her errant child in so visible a manner. The tide in the room has changed flow, for you know you were that close to loosing.

You rise as the judge leaves the chamber. You ask your attorney what just happened and was it good or bad. “Good” you are told. You leave the courtroom and there are your kids, setting in the hall while Mom and current husband speak privately with her attorney. You know she is upset, that she wanted to win. You know there will never be winners in this travesty. You apologize to your kids – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 of them – as you leave, in the name of both parents, for dragging them into all this. You have words with you older daughter – a confrontation, really – and she says something that saddens you deeply. And you hurt. And you are that close to saying “the hell with it”. And you know you can’t.

You are bone tired. You have a headache. You eat. You watch a movie. And you know it has all changed.  You’ll never again write a letter to your kids because you can’t be sure it won’t wind up in a courtroom, used against you. You know that you have forever severed whatever slender thread of parent-child relationship remained with some older kids. You know you will have a hard time trusting any of them again. And you know that you will the next time you need to, because you are a Father.

And you will stop by the Chapel and you will kneel before Our Lord and Our Lady and you will try and find the right words of Thanksgiving to them, for you know this was not of your doing, but of Theirs. You promise to do better, and you promise to be better and you continue to ask Them not to abandon you, for you know you are lost if that should ever happen. And mostly, you continue to pray for her and for your kids. And know that despite it all, at the end of the day, before you retire and as you type the last words of your blog post, you can still say “Father, forgive them. For they know not what they do.”

Copyright 2014 David Heath - All Rights Reserved