Dreams were about to be broken.
I can clearly remember that July day in 1980. It was mid-afternoon, sunny, hot, and humid. As I reflect back, it was an unsettling time for me; the divorce, the lawsuit, and the knowledge that emotions would be uncertain. All were weighing heavily on me.
We had finished loading the pick-up truck with the few possessions I was to take with me: an office desk and chair, a credenza, clothes, shotguns, pictures, and papers. Left behind were the things of value. She had custody and control over all that I was leaving behind.
My four children had gathered on the front porch to say goodbye. Diana, 11, and Pam, 10, were old enough to understand what was happening. They, however, had been spared the details. They had also been prepped for the event that was unfolding. Diana and Pam stood by trying to control any feelings they may have had.
Matt, seven, the youngest, was too young to grasp the immensity of emotions and clung to his mother’s leg. Steve, nine, the oldest boy struggled to hold back his tears. His mother explained to him that his daddy would be going away for a while. I too was failing in my effort to hide tears. As I turned to leave, Steve, moisture in his eyes, handed me a book.
Many years have passed; I have traveled many miles. The book traveled with me from Asheville; to Raleigh; to Roanoke; to Indianapolis; and finally to Bridgeport, CT. The treasured book always was packed and moved with me.
It was not until the late nineties that I parted ways with the book in Bridgeport. I was forced to leave the book behind due to necessary downsizing. Downsizing made necessary by economics and poor judgment. In haste and oversight, the book was left behind. An oversight that I now regret. I am reminded of that book every day.
Every day I look at the picture that hangs on my wall in the nursing home where I now live. The picture serves as a reminder of that book and what I left behind; a reminder of the pain and emptiness I’ve felt over the years. The hurt that I’ve caused and the wounds that will not heal. I now, so very, much would like to have that book so that I may return it.
It will have been 34 years this July since I’ve seen that teary eyed little boy; that little boy offering me a going away gift. A book that meant so much to him then — and means so much more to me now. The book is long overdue. No one can imagine the price paid over the years; the years of sadness and remorse, and how lonely I’ve become.
Each day I look at the picture of my four kids. The picture serves as a reminder of that book and all that I left behind.
I am so very sorry.