I was invited over to Jenn and David's the other night after work, an impromptu email from David announcing that Sophie was holding a bake sale for the local humane society. By the time I arrived, the sidewalk table was bare but the hand-drawn sign (which included drawings of a dog or two in Sophie's inimitable style) pitched slices of fresh banana bread at 25 cents apiece. The girls were home on holiday and David turned them into bakers, creative energy culminating in a worthy cause. A couple neighbors were standing nearby and assured me that the bake sale had, indeed, sold out - a success!
I climbed the steps and went inside. The girls were now watching TV but Sophie let me know that she netted $10 for the local strays. We have two animal shelters nearby and Jenn gave Sophie her choice of where to donate, explaining that the one shelter was a sadder place, more worn down and struggling than the newer, larger location. Sophie thought her options over carefully while we sat down to dinner and chose the more destitute and beleaguered for her donation. We all applauded her decision. Then we ate. We all sat around the table and David explained some of his Passover weekend to me while we shared in leftovers and talked about rituals.
I find this quite amazing.
My adult children are splitting up, each seeking to go in new directions. And, still, we sit at the table and care enough to speak of things and activities that are important to each of us. I am flying to London in a week through the generosity of a friend; David's father has been ill; Jennifer's company has moved. We break bread and listen. Banana bread. The girls eat hard-boiled eggs while we eat home-made salads from Sophie's birthday weekend. The eggs were part of Passover dishes but they play a part in Easter celebrations too. Eggs. New life, new beginnings.
I want the best for all my children. I still find it surreal and sad to know that this marriage is ending. Yet endings lead to fresh beginnings. I wonder. I worry. I try to understand.
Does a son-in-law remain a son-in-law after a divorce? Can I love my daughter yet confess love for the man who loved her and co-produced two beautiful, sensitive little girls? My grandchildren.
This is strange territory for all of us. No road map to guide the way. We are learning as we're going.
The hardest part of becoming a mother-in-law is letting yourself trust that your children have chosen well. That's why the divorce is so hard. There was (and still is) love involved. I hold on to that as I hope in the future for happiness for each of them.
There are times when it is good, very good, to be invited to the family table to share a meal and each other's presence, to accept the moment for what it is - a blessing. And then to release it.
We will get through this, all of us in our own way.