Across town sits a man that I was once married to. This man is also my children’s father. I can count on my hand how many times my children have seen him in the last two years. Before that it was equally as rare. I rarely feel anything for him, but today I am feeling bouts of anger and of sadness and working hard to have no judgement.
I think that I have a great understanding and compassion for people facing life challenges, including disease. Where my anger enters is that his health crisis is complicated by his choices. Despite facing multiple amputations, spending weeks in a nursing home, and constantly in the hospital, he continues to make choices that are ultimately killing him.
Having not seen his daughter in over two years he was unable to refrain from cigarettes for the half hour visit that he had with her this week. He is unable to walk or drive. He cannot wear shoes or clothes that have any sort of fastener. And yet, he continues to smoke, and he continues to eat horrible foods.
Sure it could be a self-sabotage to die. It could be a deep state of depression where he feels that there is no hope. It could be that he is so ill he does not know any different. And it also could be that he is making choices.
In the mean time, my kids were robbed of a father. They were forced to rely completely on me for every type of support that a child needs and deserves. My heart aches when I see the pain in my son’s eyes as he is keenly aware of the likelihood of his father’s impending death. He has a stoic approach to accepting that he never had a dad who would play ball with him, show up to his games, or guide him in a way that only a father can.
No matter how much I loved the kids, I cannot replace the lack of presence of their father in their life. I cannot make up for what was not given to them.
As he lives across town in a state of filth and smothering illness, he complains of his situation and blames others for his condition. It could be a lot of things. And it also could be a choice.
With this showing up in my life, I get to practice non-judgement and compassion. I get to watch my anger turn to love and hope that his suffering is minimal and that he can know peace. I know for certain that my kids have been loved and I know for certain that they see the truth and will do differently.