Wednesday morning. Early. Open parking lot. Traffic humming by on the street. One car pulls up and waits. A second car pulls in a few minutes later and a small boy emerges. As the man from the first car is making his way towards the second car, the boy is running. Arms wide open, excited and hungry for the arms of his Father. Hugs of a broken heart, of feeling what he doesn’t understand. Hugs with no concepts concerning time, where a week feels like a lifetime. Hugs of maybe not enough time to ever heal this pain and heartache.
The Mother from the second car gets out and patiently waits; giving the Father and Son their moment. No smiles or frowns from behind her big sunglasses. She just watches and waits. Part of her broken heart is in those tear-stained hugs of this sad weekly ritual.
The man and the woman talk. She points out how slim he looks. He pulls open his jacket to verify. He may be flattered but he also knows firsthand how sorrow can strip a person’s weight in a hurry. They speak briefly, exchange a few papers. Hand gestures but no anger from my silenced point of view. No waves goodbye, they just walk away ….again. They thought the first time they walked away would be the toughest, but now with the little boy getting older and clinging more, it becomes apparent that this new life is tougher. Heavy stuff. Sad stuff to witness and sadder still to be the one involved.
They have chosen this parking lot to make their weekly exchange. Half way I guess from the old place to whomever had to move out. They exchange the boy, the best thing they ever had in their world. The most loved. She tussles his hair and watches him get into the Fathers car.
I have chosen a parking lot such as this in past years. I have pulled up with degrees of resentment, pain and confusion. Blame for the other and just as much blame for myself. I have hugged so tight as if to never let go. I still don’t want to let go. It can still draw tears. Divorce doesn’t have to be the worst event of someones life but I will say without a doubt that when our children are involved it will be a wound that never totally heals. Perhaps we learn to live with our regrets and pains. We learn to mask and cope, but make no mistake, these sorrows shape us.
I hope you or I never have to choose a parking lot somewhere in between what should have been forever and what will never be again. I hope we can see the beauty of tending our gardens, and giving our children the best of ourselves. And if we do, I hope forgiveness begins on our own tongue and ends with the ones we’ve hurt. I will be looking for this family again next Wednesday. To see them is to see myself and to see myself is a reminder that hope and forgiveness loom large and are sometimes brought down to a single hug. A clutching moment in time where love is all that really matters, and the wish that this hug would never end.