It’s been nearly ten months since the girls left, and Noah is still trying to understand what exactly happened.
As a parent, I always hope that the divorce is not still affecting him. I always hope that he doesn’t think much about it or that he doesn’t still feel hurt from it. I often find myself expecting his age to somehow wipe out his still-hurting memories. But, every once in a while, he still asks me what happened to them.
It’s usually out of the blue, sometimes while we’re sitting together on the couch and other times while we’re driving. The question is always asked in one of the same three ways. Why did the girls have to leave? Why didn’t the girls want to stay? or Why aren’t the girls coming back?
I always ask him to tell me why he thinks they left. His answer is always the same. “Because you guys had too many fights?” I always tell him that’s one of the reasons. We then discuss just how much he and I both miss both of them, how it’s okay to miss both of them, and how it’s okay to still love them and wish they were around.
When the girls first left, Noah began blaming himself, sure that they were leaving him because of something he did or because of some way he acted. I just told him over and over that it was because his step-mom and I fought too much. I assured him that she was mad at Dad, never at him. And so, that’s what he believes and that’s what he remembers, whether it was true or not. I always felt it was important for him to be able to easily blame the two of us, and so I always made sure he could.
I’ve come to realize though, that when he asks why they had to leave, he’s not really asking that question at all. What he’s really saying is that he misses them and that he wants to talk about it. He wants to feel okay about still feeling sad when he remembers his step-sister, and when he misses her being around. He wants to communicate, and his questions are merely his way of doing so.
I often wonder if he’ll remember them when he’s older. I wonder if he’ll remember the friendship and the bond that he had with his step-sister. I wonder if he’ll ever not feel the residual pain from the whole thing.
As a dad, it always hurts to really see how my bad choices and my failures affect my child. It always hurts when my child hurts because of me. It always hurts when my child is confused because his dad couldn’t keep everything together for him.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing