by Carey DeBeaux
Many children go through the unfortunate experience of their parents splitting-up or divorcing. I was one of those children.
I never saw my parents fight, so I had no idea something was wrong with their marriage. Looking back, I never saw the intimate glances a man and a woman share either, or the sweet little kisses just to say hi. At such a young age, there was no way for me to know how important these little niceties are in a marriage.
It was Christmas Day and my parents had given my brother the gift of a trip to Wisconsin to see our relatives and to see snow, real snow, just as he had asked. That morning, I woke up knowing the day would be different. My brother and I would always open our stockings together and then get our parents up to join us for the rest of the Christmas morning festivities, but on that day, I opened my stocking alone. I remember distinctly my parents coming out on their own without me having to wake them and thinking how odd of them to be awake so early. We opened presents and laughed, but something was not right. I guess I just chalked it up to missing my brother.
After the presents were open, my mother sat me down next to her on the couch and gave me this look like we were going to discuss something really important. There was no way for me to know what would be said next. She told me she was leaving my dad. I think my dad was also shocked at her announcement and the impeccable timing on her part. He stayed strong and let me know all would be okay. This was the first time I had ever seen a tear in my dad’s eye.
My mother packed her things over the next few days as I began to harbor resentment towards her. I couldn’t believe she was willing to walk away from the greatest man I had ever known and not realize that she was giving up so much. Little did I know that what a wonderful gift this act would give my brother and me later on.
I went back to school after the winter break and felt ashamed to tell anyone about my home situation, since most people who knew our family thought we were the perfect nuclear example. I didn’t want to admit that we were no longer. It was about half way through the semester that I opened up to my best friend, Amy, about what was happening. I knew she would understand because her parents had divorced a few years before.
Amy and I were inseparable, but our parents had only met in passing. My father went on summer trips for his work that were family inclusive. I went every year and on many of them, I would bring a friend. I asked Amy if she would come that year and she was excited to say yes. But her mother was a little more reluctant to let her daughter go out of town with a man she didn’t know more than a name and face. Now, this was not our fault as we had tried to set them up in “chance” meetings for months.
Amy’s mother said she needed to get to know the man that was going to take her daughter for a few weeks before she would agree to the trip. So the wheel started rolling.
One night, Amy and I were at my house getting a few things for me to stay at her house. Her mother called and wanted to know what was taking so long, so we asked her to hang on and to her surprise we put my dad on the phone. When we came back into the room, my dad was saying he would pick her up at seven o’clock on Tuesday. He of course blushed when he saw us, but we knew that was the start of a great thing.
As they got ready for their first date, Amy and I watched them both act like little teenagers wondering how to impress the other. My dad couldn’t make up his mind as to which tie to wear. Her mom tried on dress after dress then finally settled on a blue one, my dad’s favorite color. And then they were off on their first date.
The love connection took. They saw each other three more times that same week. A year and a half later, we were married. Yes, I meant to say we. The marriage ceremony was one that married our whole family and we all exchanged rings as a symbol to prove our commitment to making our blended family work.
I see my parents now, my dad and Luan, and know that they are truly happy and have been able to show all of us what a marriage can and should be. And even though I was so resentful towards my mother for quite some time for what I thought was a big mistake, I realized that she needed to find her happiness and give my dad a chance to find his.
I learned that family is not necessarily blood relation, but those who you hold dearest to your heart. We were welcomed into Luan’s family like we were her own children and for that I will always be thankful. My sisters are just that to me, sisters that I never knew I had but that were given to me in the most needed time in my life. And I was given another mom to show me that there is only one great thing in this life for us to do and that is to love one another.
I have found that divorce is not necessarily the fracture of a marriage but rather a way to extend a family, and there is no greater gift than that of the love of family.
Former radio personality Carey DeBeaux, who grew up in Rio Rancho, is now raising two sons with her husband Tim. Her column on family life will appear on a regular basis. Click here to contact her.