Oh, the power of four words.
I cannot believe how much power and influence words have been given in my life, I guess anyone’s life for that matter. The secret, I suppose, lies not in the words themselves, but in the thoughts, attitudes and decisions that form the words; the words are just the thrust propelling these into existence where they can accomplish their intent. But back to the four words.
Four words, yesterday.
Four words from my dad.
Four words over the phone.
Four words that changed my life. “The reason I called is, your mom is leaving me.”
And there they are. Not, “Hey, I have a quick question about my taxes”, or “How ‘bout them Giants?” or “Just wanted to call and say hi”, but mom is leaving me. Oh, the power of four words.
I didn’t know how to respond so I stuttered through a few questions in my attempt to make sense of what I just heard, my mind in a tailspin. Why? How? When? Serious? Permanent? My dad was doing his best to field them, but he was still in shock from hearing four different – yet similar – words earlier in that morning, “I am leaving you.” Oh, the power of four words.
The amount, variety and intensity of the emotions that flooded my body was paralyzing. Initially the words brought shock, which gave way to confusion, sadness, anger, disbelief, betrayal, loss and fear. These did not come to me one after another like the cars of a train traveling safely on a track. No, it felt as if the train had derailed: cars spinning and crashing into one another; twisting and tumbling and piling on top of each other, so much so that once the commotion stopped, you couldn’t tell which car was which – just a heap of wreckage. Yea, that’s how the emotions came. I wish to God I could say I was exaggerating or using hyperbole for effect. I’m not. If anything, it was worst. The silly thing? I’m 32 years old…it’s not supposed to hurt this much, is it?
The effect? I can no longer say to my six year old son, “We are going to Grammie & Gramps’ house.” It is now, “We are going to Grammie or Gramps’.” My one year old daughter will never know her Grammie & Gramps as a couple, that they once lived together, that we once used to visit them, watch TV with them, play in the backyard with them. I can no longer, after talking on the phone with my mom, ask if I can talk with dad. For the holidays, we’ll have to celebrate in two separate houses in order to see both of them. I fear my dad will drop off the deep end, become overwhelmingly depressed and return to alcohol to numb the pain. I fear for my son and his gramp’s relationship; that it will suffer, or at the least become stunted. I fear my mom will still try to be strong for her kids, pretending everything is just rosy, all the while shriveling up quietly inside, hiding her pain.
I mourn the death of new memories the future would have brought of my mom and dad together: Christmases & Thanksgivings, family vacations, the ‘house in Sonora’, our kid’s birthdays, and on, and on, and on the list goes – literally goes – as those memories fade, no, evaporate from existence. Sure, there will be new memories, even good, fond memories of my parents; it’s just that they’ll be of them separated – not together. For that I mourn.
It hurts. I’m sad. At times, angry. I know it will be a while before these fade. I know there will be scars from these four words. Yet, these four words are also rebirthing other words – redeeming words. Out of the ashes of mom is leaving me, God is renewing a set of four words between my wife and I; ones we said almost 10 years ago.
I’ll never leave you.