Our Story Begins . . . With a Flourish
This is my daughter’s favorite picture of me. Friends constantly ask her “who’s that?!” with typical teenage skepticism that’s dripping in sarcasm.
“That,” she says, standing up proudly and smiling “is my Dad.” She loves that photo, snapped by a colleague of mine, because to her . . . that’s me. That’s the Dad she knows. Happy, smiling, being silly around them…For so many other people, though, this seems almost counter-intuitive. The reason? I lost my wife and my four kids lost their mother just over three years ago. By all rights that could have been a catastrophic moment, in fact it really looked like one. That first few months all the way up through the first year were just devastating in a lot of ways.
But we didn’t see it as a catastrophic moment. We took it as a defining one. Change is inevitable and we didn’t want the change that came with my wife’s passing. Still, we couldn’t make that go away, it was a fact that forced us to decide on a lot of things.
But it’s been three years and . . . well. . . we’re flourishing.
That girl catching snowflakes on her tongue is my daughter, Hannah, my middle child. She spent that first year struggling in school. She barely got her homework turned in, even if she’d finished it. She was closest with her Mom. She had a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that she had to deal with all those issues girls deal with as a teen with no Mom, just a Dad trying to do what Mom does. She’s now a wonderful musician and spends a lot of time playing the guitar. She has all A’s and B’s and is in two honors classes next year. That’s a big change! That . . . is moving on with a flourish.
Noah, the boy in the front there, had the hardest time. He got into fights at school. He was suspended for a day. He just couldn’t take the looks and the pity when he kept trying to tell people he hadn’t changed, he was still, at heart, Noah. He wasn’t a different kid because he didn’t have a Mom. Because of changes in our household I had to move he and his brother to a different school. They flourished there. The two boys went on their first week-long field trip and had no issues. Sam, the boy behind him, joined the speech team! He has a bit of a stutter when he’s nervous so that was a major thing for him. Performance with a flourish.
There’s Abbi, their oldest sister, who is now in college and performing in a modern take on Shakespeare. She had a lot to contend with in losing her Mom. My wife pressured her, constantly, to do something in a medical field. Instead, she’s studying theater, her first love. She’s a scholarship student and was just asked to be assistant director for the Fall, as a sophomore, something the University says they’ve hardly ever done. (With a Broadway director!) She’s found her way on her own which couldn’t make me more proud. (Dramatic flourish!)
Then there’s the writer himself. I realized after a lot of harsh lessons. As much as I wished I was still married, still parenting with another, that’s all they were. Wishes. I had to embrace a new reality which made for the scary realization that I also had to face the biggest change: a change in myself. Taking on the role of being the only parent could easily have been a “woe is me” moment but it wasn’t. I started writing music again after about a year, and for a musician, that writer’s block was agony. I’ve been on a few dates – emphasis on a few. I’m a different person now, and the women that I find attract me the most, well, they’re different too.
My children are healthy, happy, and one thing I think you’ll see in every one of those photos . . . smiling. Not a fake smile, these are actual moments from our lives in the last year. Moments I enjoy and love. Adventures in the truest sense of the word. Moments that show how much we embraced and even sparked the changes.
And we did it with a flourish.
How about you? Do you see your life flourishing, moving forward? Do you relish those little moments, or minor victories?