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Grateful, Dread Concert

December 20, 2011
Teddy bear, born in Germany about 1954

Image via Wikipedia

The lights are out, and all is dark except for the spotlights on the stage.  My daughter is on the risers with the rest of her Kindergarten class, holding a teddy bear and dressed in her favourite pjs.  The place I occupy is against the wall, near the back.  Inconspicuous, except I feel like a spotlight might as well be shining on me too.  This is the first time in a long time that my ex-husband and I have been in the same place at the same time.

Last year the kids and I and my new partner took a family road trip to avoid the scene altogether.  The kids were disappointed to do all that practicing, then miss out on the actual performance, but it was more important to lay down some new memories than attend all the family oriented school activities.  This year we’ve opted not to try a long road trip with Baby, so we the kids are getting a chance to take part in this holiday tradition.  I contemplated not going to watch, but I love my kids more than I hate my ex, so I will be there to see them, no matter how uncomfortable I am. 

As I stand there of course I feel pride and excitement, but also dread.  I hope my ex doesn’t try to talk to me.  I hope he doesn’t even see me, with trench coat and scarf hastily pulled on over jeans and a t-shirt  that has oatmeal crust on the shoulder.  His presence feels like an invasion of my privacy, and intrusion into the new life I’m trying to build.  I have worked hard to make new friends, connect with the kids’ teachers, and volunteer at the school.  Having my skeletons aired in front of these people is embarrassing.  I feel proud of my new family, but the mistakes of my previous marriage are going to follow me forever.  How do I make peace with that?  As the kids sing about love and family and traditions on stage my mind whirls with how to be in the world with this person who has hurt me so deeply.  When I try to parse out the emotions around it there is a cloud of hate surrounding a core of disappointment and failure.

There are injustices performed every day, all over the world, deeper and crueller than I was dealt.  When I was attending the University of Victoria, Reena Virk was murdered under the Gorge Bridge by classmates.  Two people were charged with the murder, one of whom confessed.  The mother of the slain teen was unbelievably forgiving from the start.  Instead of being vindictive and wanting the teens to suffer for taking her child’s life, she pleaded with them to confess and honour her daughter’s life by telling the truth.  I think of Suman Virk and try to find that level of grace in my heart with the tragedy I have suffered.

In this season, where we honour children, I want to be the best example to my kids of how to handle the trials life will inevitably deal out.  I know the best thing is for them to have all the people who love them present in their world, supporting them to be their best.  In this way they will be strong enough to treat others fairly and compassionately.  Without the kids I could just hate my ex and never have to deal with forgiving and moving on.  My children are a very important reason to seek that peace, and for that I am grateful.

 

NBES Christmas Concert 2011 from sugarlumps photography on Vimeo.

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