Half-Life

Dear Child With a Life Cut in Two,

I did not see this for you, this life in two halves.

I planned only one. A path curved beyond horizons I couldn’t yet see, but that wandered through my lands for the first 18 or so years.

One trail, bordered with love and support, structure and shade when you needed it.

This was the landscape I planned for you, much-loved child.

I arranged and I tended. I gardened. Cultivating a life in which you would thrive, create, grow and find joy.

One life.

My plans, though, no matter how well-thought or purposely intended, don’t always come to be.

And your path divided in two.

I hurt for not being able to see that other path you walk.

I don’t know its turns or where cracks wait to trip you.

I can’t see you at all, and I long to look at you. Each day. Every day.

I can’t guide you or comfort you, be your strength or give a shove.

The lessons I hope to teach you are beyond my reach there.  Your experiences not mine to live with you, at times not even mine to know.

I close my eyes, beloved child, when you are there, to imagine you. And ache with frustrated grief for all that happens without me.

I ache knowing the distance you travel is twice it should be.  Each time you come to your life here, you cross a divide from your life there. Your mind restructures, your framework shifts, your rulebook rewrites. Your trail has switchbacks I never intended you to walk.

I watch you for tiredness. For blisters. For disorientation, or for anger.

A fracture breaks fresh with each close of the door behind you.

Though I have only half your minutes…

…you are my son every second.

I cannot be half a mom.

I breathe hope into each day that you feel these truths.

My child with a life cut in two.

36 comments

  1. This was a post that really impacted me, and it is beautifully written, as always. However, the optimist in me says, thinking about my own children, can’t the path be doubled instead of split? Can’t those new paths create a full and interesting life? Aren’t our children learning more about different households, that people are unique in their lifestyles, that they are loved in ways that look different but are equally intense?

  2. This is a beautiful post. I hate to hear your family is going through this and wish you all of the best during such a difficult time. I was married before and had a four year old daughter when we went through our divorce. It is so hard. My only advice to you is to remember that your child’s happiness and well-being comes before anything you feel for your ex-spouse. Sometimes you will be angry. Sometimes you will be sad. No matter what you are feeling towards your ex-spouse and no matter what they do, just keep thinking about how your child sees it. Hang in there. It DOES get better! I promise!

  3. Lovely post. I think an earlier commenter did bring up an interesting perspective…that could it be doubled, instead of halved?

    Great food for thought. In any case, you know I wish you well with your own feelings and know that it cannot be easy, only having a view into half of your child’s life.

    xoxo

  4. Lovely post and right on target , Lori. They should run this over on HuffPo on their divorce blog.

    While I think it’s lovely that some commenters think it’s doubled, that is not the case in most situations. Certainly not for each parent as they only get 1/2 the time. And rarely for the child. I have met some people who had amazing step families growing up. And I hope and wish that for your family, Lori.

  5. Oh, Lori! You are undoubtedly an incredible, loving, thoughtful mom. I feel horribly for your somber posts as of late. You deserve to be all bright and bubbly and happy, and I hope you get back to that very soon.

  6. Lori, this post is so beautifully written, your writing always is. I can begin to understand what you are feeling right now, but I surely can’t imagine what it would be like to have to walk that path. {{hugs}}I hope things start looking up soon :)

  7. Dear Lori,
    This post makes me sad, for you, and more selfishly, for me.
    I have been through a divorce that divided my two children’s lives. I saw the impact both my lousy first marriage and our eventual split had on them both. I came home to an empty home on the weekends, wondering how they were, and what they were doing.
    There is another reason this makes me sad.
    My son died seven years ago. February 2 will be the anniversary of the day his life divided forever, and he left for heaven. He was 21, and had cystic fibrosis, but he had done so well, been so vibrant, until a few months before the end. The pain is duller now, but I will always miss him.
    While I feel your hurt, and know how difficult that “half life” can be, for you and your son, please, keep cherishing the time you do have together.
    I thank God for my daughter, who also lived a half life away from me. She is the future, as well as the past, and we are closer now than we ever were.
    Thank you for your beautiful poem, and for sharing your heart!
    Bless you,
    Jodi

    1. Sorry, I forgot when I wrote this that you were already aware of the loss of my son. I in no way mean to minimize what you are going through. I know that it is rough to have to share a child with an ex.
      I just want to say again, your writing is so lovely!
      Jodi

    2. Dearest Jodi –

      Read both your comments today. I often remember that you lost your beloved boy. You and your brave heart are often in my thoughts.

      I cannot imagine a day on this earth that you will not miss him. But I am so very grateful that the pain has lessened somewhat.

      You are lovely to remind me to cherish. I hope I do it as much as I should – life gets in the way of acts like cherishing and celebrating more than I want, often.

      Thank you for your loving words, beautiful lady.

      And give my love to Mother Hen.

      -L.

  8. Ouch. I can only imagine how painful this must be. The idea of being deprived of part of my child’s life like that just rips my heart out. Being a parent shouldn’t be so damn hard. *sigh*

  9. Oh, Lori…

    I’m not the first to say, it but what a lucky child, to have such a present Mama, who watches him in her heart when he’s away, and who’s given him a model of how to be strong, to take love when offered, and rebuild after something so monumental as the dissolution of a family.

    Love to you!

  10. Lori, this is beautiful. And it makes my heart hurt that you feel this pain.
    I’m sure that your son sees your love for him. Even from that other path.

  11. Lori, you managed to put this into words so eloquently. I know this is a pain that many mothers feel and some of us fear. I can’t imagine having that separation of my children’s life from mine, even though I know it is coming.
    ((hugs))

  12. My amazing friend…
    What a heart-wrenchingly beautiful post.
    I can’t imagine how it feels to watch him come and go.
    You are such an amazing and present mother and you live each of the moments that you have with him to the fullest. That’s a gift for him beyond compare.
    Much love to you…

  13. I hadn’t thought about it in the terms of it also being a positive in some ways, this cut in two life.

    But I also know you’re writing about YOUR heart, and it’s cut-in-two life: the times he’s with you, and the times he’s not. Physically, that is.

    You don’t need me to tell you what a beautiful mother you are. But I will anyway.

    xo

  14. Oh Lori…I wish I could hug you right now.

    Being a child of divorce, but not until I was in college, I can’t relate to the shuttling back and forth that yours does. But I still shuttle between the halves of my life even now; the Dad half with wife of 25 years, stepbrother and family, and stepcousins, etc… and the Mom half with third husband and countless friends. And as I have grown I have tried to look at all these additional people and places as being the benefit of my parent’s divorce, as twisted as it may seem.

    Because in the end, my parents weren’t suited for each other. But they were suited for me. And that alone has carried me through their remarriages, moving to different houses, and strained holiday gatherings. Your love for your son isn’t cut in half and his life itself is whole….you may not see some of what’s in the other half, but it still completes him.

    Hugs to you…

  15. You deserve a tiara after a post like that! Something shiny and sparkly to brighten up your days when he is not with you. But this thing you are doing, this back and forth, you must be doing it well. My husband refused to back and forth when he was a child and no one made it right for him … and now he is trying to a patch a relationship with a father, who was not part of his life.
    You are doing right by him … and for you … hugs, hugs and maybe a little tapdancing ;)

  16. Oh Lori. This makes my heart hurt. My son, too, has a life separate from me so I know your heart ache.

    He’s a lucky boy to have such a wonderful mom. Even if he doesn’t realize it now, he will one day. xoxo

  17. I think divorce is harder on the parents than it is on the children.

    As a child of divorce, I had:
    2 birthdays
    2 Easters
    2 Thanksgivings
    2 Christmas’s

    Two of every celebration. (And since mom & dad weren’t together, there was no fighting. :)

  18. Beautiful writing, it brought tears to my eyes. Divorce is hard, but with a mother like you he will not only survive, but thrive!! Love you!

  19. For the first 5.5 years of my nephew’s life he was with his mom all week and every other weekend and only saw my brother 4 days a month (every other weekend). I remember him telling me it felt like part of his heart was gone for those other 26 days.

    Then I had my boy. And I found myself crying at the thought of my brother missing all the little things.

    My husband has divorced parents too. He doesn’t talk about it much…but it happened after his senior year of high school. I know he does NOT feel that his mother’s heart was with him.

    That being said? You post? Brought tears to my eyes. As so many before me have said, what a lucky, lucky child you have to have a mother who sends her out into the world to watch over him.

    You are a beautiful person and friend…but you are an exquisite mother.

  20. Typing through tears. I read this after consoling my daughter before the bus this morning who is saddened that her other life is not a half, but an empty piece. You must be an amazing mother, your love shines through this post.

  21. Brought tears to my eyes.. Lovely post.
    You see? I was once the kid with a double life. Instead of biweekly visits, I would get on a plane and spend 6 to 8 weeks with my mom every summer. I loved to visit, but part of me hated leaving my home. Then, when it came time to go back on the plane, I didn’t want to leave. The airport was all about tears for me in my childhood.
    My parents never once used me in a tug of war. I was never made to feel guilty about wanting one or the other. They were simply there & loved me. Looking back, it was the best thing they could’ve done. And those summer visits helped shape me into who I am. Although, I imagine it killed my mom watching me leave every time knowing it would be a full year before she saw me again.
    One day, your son will know what this has meant for you and he will love you even more because of it.

  22. Hugs to you! It is never what you dream for your children but you try to make the best of it as much as you can. After a year and a half I’m still not used to having them gone when they are. The shuffle is hard. Just remember what an amazing mom you are and that they still feel the love even if they aren’t there. You are always in their heart.

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