My heart is broken. I come before you tonight a broken soul, devastated and mourning for a loss.
Sometimes, there are pains so deep that it takes more than once voice to tell its story. This particular pain has no way of being fully expressed. There are no words to match the sinking feeling in my stomach; no expressions encompass the severity of my sorrow. I am human, though; I need to share. I need to be in community, and so I must tell my story.
Anyone who has been following me for a length of time knows that I have twin nephews. I wrote about them here, here and here. My brother, (not Boo, who is my younger brother. Here we’re talking about my older brother), David, is their father. Jamie, a very sweet, very caring, very capable woman, is their mother. They live about 4 hours away from here. I love Jamie and The Twins with my whole heart. Seeing the twins or hearing of them brightens my days. I love them. I love them. They are my blood, they are fantastic and entertaining and so full of life. And I love Jamie. She is so gentle and compassionate and real. I was more than pleased to welcome them into our family, regardless of the circumstances.
And oh, were the circumstances ever hard. They were incredibly, extraordinarily difficult.
But circumstances don’t matter. What matters was that we had the most precious boys in the universe as part of our family. What matters is that I have never seen my parents happier than they were when they had those boys in their arms.
Happiness, in and of itself, doesn’t hold a candle to the happiness that is associated with grandparenthood. My parents love those boys with everything that is in them. I love those boys, and my love doesn’t hold a candle to the way that my parents feel for them. And the way my parents feel for them doesn’t hold a candle to the way that their mom, Jamie, feels about them. They, despite the difficult circumstances, are incredibly blessed. They know so much love.
But everything changed at the end of March.
Zack came to me one morning in early April and asked me if something had happened with David. Katy, Zack told me, had tweeted some things that’d made him think that something was wrong. I told Zack that I didn’t know. I hadn’t heard anything. Because school can be so stressful for me, my family has (graciously) gotten into the habit of saving up “news” until I’m between projects. At the time, I was under the overwhelming set of deadlines associated with The Project of Doom. I told Zack that if something was happening, I didn’t know. They must have not told me because of school. At the time, I appreciated the sentiment. I did not read her tweets. I’m glad I didn’t. If I had, it would have been obvious to me what had happened. Here’s what she said:
It’s these moments that shape us. That mold us. That forever haunt us.
It’s these moments that kill us, slowly.
It’s your blood and it’s my blood. It’s captured in a memory. It’s surreal and unforgiveable.
The words were spoken and we thought you were man enough to keep them. Man enough to hold them. To love them. To teach them what a real man is. But how would that be possible when you don’t even understand this?
They have faulted you never. Not once. And you tear their world in two without hesitation.
I grit my teeth to hold back a sharpened tongue.
You desert them. And you cut us deep. The blood runs thick, yes, but it means little anymore.
Earlier that day, my dad had texted her and begged her to write something. He needed something to make him cry, he said. Minutes before the text message arrived in her phone, Katy had been informed of the fact that my brother signed over his parental rights. No longer is he the father of these twins. He willingly gave up any stake of ownership he ever had in these boy’s lives. And in doing so, he irreversibly broke the hearts of every member of his family. He sent his mother, his father, his sisters and his brother into the deepest sorrow we’ve ever known.
He gave up the boys. Signed them away like they didn’t even matter.
That’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that those boys are better off without him in their lives. The worst part is that if you have the kind of father who is willing to forefit his right to be a part of your life, you really are better without him. Children should be surrounded with people who love them. With people who will sacrifice anything for them, who will do whatever it takes to ensure their safety, wellness, and happiness. And if you are willing to leave your children behind, you are not willing to sacrifice anything for them. You are not willing to do whatever it takes. You are not worthy of being their father. And so, in signing over his rights, David confirmed our worst fears about him. He is that kind of person. The kind of person who is willing to abandon his own children.
We, the other members of my family, are clinging to the relationship we have built with Jamie, and praying (please, pray) that she will continue to let us be a part of their lives even though she doesn’t have to. She doesn’t have to do anything. And if we’re all honest with ourselves, we can see that it’s harder for her to let us be involved. Because how does she explain us in 3 years when they start asking questions about who we are? We’re grandparents and aunts and uncles that aren’t part of Jamie’s family. We don’t show up at family reunions. We are a part of The Other Side. But in their case, The Other Parent doesn’t exist anymore. So how does she explain The Other Side? When encapsulated in selfish positive thinking, I tell myself that it’s okay. Because whether we’re hard to explain or not, the more people that love those boys, the better. Right? I mean, who cares what our titles are? We love them. Love will carry us through. Love will make the difference. Love makes it all easier, right?
Maybe. Maybe it does. Maybe it’s enough. But, on the other hand, it might not be enough. Love might not carry us through. Maybe, just maybe, my brother just made a selfish decision that took away the greatest joys our family has ever known.