We prayed for mothers on Mother's Day. It felt a bit odd to be sitting in the church whilst mothers were being acknowledged and one automatically assumed that every adult female in the congregation was a mother or had been at one time in her life. Or maybe they didn't make those assumptions. Maybe it was just the way my mind decided that it was how others saw it. (For someone who didn't like it if another spoke for her without her consent, I certainly had no problems with speaking for other people without their consent, if only inside my head.) Before the Mass ended, it was announced that there would be a special gift for all mothers outside the front entrance of the church. When it was over, I made my exit through the side door (like we usually did except this time I really wanted to hurry out that way and not meet anyone else).
My husband understood. And even though I felt a bit selfish and a bit of a killjoy, it just wouldn't feel right -- it would actually feel a little odd -- if someone else were to come up to me and wish me a Happy Mother's Day just because I was an older woman with a husband by my side. Perhaps there were other women too with similar stories but they were more obliging than me, thinking outside of themselves and allowing themselves to participate in the beauty and generosity of the event. I don't know. And I will never know because I would rather walk away from such things. Admittedly, there were times when I didn't, when I had learnt to graciously accept it. But that day, I couldn't.
We prayed for fathers on Father's Day. My husband wasn't a father and I wondered how he felt. It was too late, of course, too late for everything that went with it. Or was it? We let the years slip by, those years when we were a litte younger at least and we could have tried if we had really wanted to. But we didn't want to. Or I didn't want to. I wanted children and I even wanted intimacy in that way and yet, that sort of intimacy wasn't particularly appealing to me. Yes, I'd fantasized about it many, many times. I even wanted it. But that was it. I only wanted it. The desire for it was actually greater than the desire to carry out the act itself for the act itself would seem like an intrusion.
There was more to it, of course. Different schedules, fatigue. Or was it that there was more to it than the different schedules and fatigue?
We hardly experienced that deepest of intimacies even when we were first married. And perhaps he saw it as a rejection. During those first years, I didn't think much of it at first for there was always next year. And the year after that. If we wanted to. If we wanted to try. But we didn't want to. And I even thought that if we could do it once again and I would conceive and that would be the end of it. It was unspoken but we both doubted each other's abilities as parents. And the unspoken word led us down a path where we should not have gone in the first place. For there could have been intimacy without the purpose of creating a child. There could have been intimacy because we loved each other. But there was an interference, or an intruder really, a dark cloud which loomed every once in a while, taking us both away from each other, and I would retreat to my fantasy world. Sad to say, I had allowed the intruder to stay. Emotionally-charged. That was how I saw it. And I clung to it, wondering why it was the way it was. I clung to it, wanting it to go away and yet refusing to let it go.
If one waits long enough -- and sincerely makes an effort -- will things get better? If one waits long enough, will time really heal the wounds? But the body doesn't wait. Love is patient. Love is kind. But the body isn't patient. It can only wait so long. And it isn't always kind either.
So we learn to forgive one another. And forgiving takes us down another path. I think I would rather go there even though I'm not quite sure where it's leading me. I still have my questions; I'm still finding my way.
We prayed for fathers on Father's Day. And as we stood in the church listening to the priest say all those wonderful things about fathers and fatherhood, my body tensed and I felt sad and unsure if I wanted to shower all those accolades on fathers. I was disapproving, maybe even a little angry. And I knew I was thinking of my father. And I wondered if I had really forgiven him. I often thought that I had. I'd certainly written that I had.
Maybe this tug-of-war within will never end. Maybe I will sometimes think fondly of my father, missing him and wishing I could converse with him, even share with him and listen to his childhood and war stories. I miss what I had and what I will never have. But I can still love the good that I saw in him and which he passed down to me. Then there will be the other times when I ... what? And it's that "what?" which fills me with regret and a sadness, even an anger, that I can't completely comprehend. It's an emotion. One cannot rely solely on emotions.
When the Mass was over and we were making our way to our car, I turned to my husband -- somewhat uncertain if I should even say it -- and told him that I wasn't sure if I'd really forgiven my father.
My husband said some comforting words. He understood. And I think at that moment, that was all I needed.