My parents divorced when I was about 13 or 14 years old. Although the breakup of their marriage was difficult for all of us, this wasn’t shocking news to me as a child. In fact, I supported their decision. I have never believed that two people should stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of their children. I was a sensitive child who was keenly aware of just how different they were.
My sister (who is eight years older than me) was off at college when their divorce began, and she was shocked. She had happy memories of Mom and Dad getting along, but to me it seemed as though we’d had two different sets of parents. My childhood involved witnessing two people constantly bicker and drift apart. When they finally called it quits, it seemed like the absolute right decision to me. I couldn’t understand what they ever saw in each other and just thought perhaps this was some cosmic fluke of a relationship.
The biggest change after the divorce had to do with my living situation. I would switch between their homes regularly, and I also started alternating between them on major holidays. This pattern continued for years and allowed them to completely avoid each other.
When my nephew was born 12 years ago, there was the slightest shift of energy in the family. With this new soul on the planet, everyone clamored to be near him. My parents reluctantly agreed that we should all spend Christmas Eve together so we could all be near the baby. The snide comments softened and this beautiful boy initiated the beginning of a healing.
A few years later, my niece was born and that healing energy got just a little bit brighter. My parents and I would sit in my sister’s living room, and what used to be awkward silence was now transformed into a unified energy. Our love for the kids proved to be a strong bond. Conversation flowed with how cute Talula looked while playing with her frozen Elsa doll. My parents would listen intently to my nephew Thomson talking about baseball (even though neither of them have any interest in sports). But with three generations in one room, it began to feel like we were one family again.
This past year my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. And while it has been a very difficult experience, the diagnosis has initiated yet another layer of healing within my family. Three weeks ago I got a call from my sister.
“So Dad and Mom talked on the phone the other day” my sister said.
“Uh oh, did they fight?” I asked.
“No, apparently they had a really nice talk and even said they loved each other.”
I practically spit my coffee out. We spent about an hour on the phone talking about how bizarre that was. And that maybe, just maybe cancer might bring a different kind of healing for our family.
I counsel a lot of people going through divorce or breakups. I can hear the confusion in their voice when they had what felt like a soul mate, and that relationship then did not work out. What does it mean? Had they been wrong all along? I’ve always felt that Soul Mates are relationships that we have to learn something from. Sometimes they last a lifetime, and sometimes they are a strong chapter and provide an essential lesson in the story of our lives.
This past week my father and I went to Dallas because my mother is in the hospital. We wanted to support my sister who lives locally, and also to make some big choices about my Mother’s care. Without hesitation my family came together.
I drove my Dad over to visit my Mom at the hospital. He hadn’t seen her in this state before. Normally she likes to look as good as possible when she sees him, even though her health has been steadily declining for the past 5 years.
As he sat at the foot of her bed I could feel some awkward energy swirling in the room. My Mom was wearing a few of her favorite rings that she asked for ahead of time. She had applied blush to her cheeks and some lipstick. It seemed sweet that she wanted to feel pretty while he was there, even though they have been divorced for 25 years. She took her oxygen tubes out of her nose, just to feel a little more like herself.
As I watched them talk I started to see the chemistry that was once there. I tried to visualize the party they met at. My mom was a hippie and I pictured her in a sundress and bare feet. She was popular, kind and compassionate. She came from a very modest upbringing. My dad was probably in khaki pants, a pressed button down shirt and penny loafers. He was funny, goofy and had never thought twice about the fact that he probably owned a dozen pairs of good shoes. They were different in so many ways, and that must have been the root of their chemistry. Opposites attract. It was a breath of fresh air for both of them.
Now in this hospital room I can see that they do actually love each other. The four of us are currently doing everything in our power to make my mother as comfortable as possible. It isn’t perfect. There are still the butting of heads. I still roll my eyes like I did when I was 13, but there is a definite healing that is happening. The love that I am seeing has proven to me that souls can unite again.
I wanted to share with you because I know we all have different family struggles. Family dynamics can change like the tide. What seems definite does not have to be that way forever. But just because a relationship changes, doesn’t mean it is a cosmic fluke. There is a reason that souls unite during a lifetime. The theme and current state may be confusing but we can always ask the universe to explain the lesson to us.
I am unclear how this will all play out. And I know that we are in for a big year ahead. But although there is sadness, there is also a great healing happening and for that I am grateful.