Friendship

The status bar asks, “What’s on your mind?”. I can honestly say that what’s on my mind this morning in Amsterdam is that I need to thank Natalie​, Jackie​ and most especially Art​ for letting me be a house guest with Teddy for more than 6 weeks this summer. I love all three of you very much and I cannot thank you enough for giving me a place to stay so that I can visit easily, and for being flexible about plans when I’m in the United States. You all made the summer the wonderful experience that it was. Natalie and Jackie, thanks for putting up with having me stay in your homes and the inconsistent schedules that arose from dividing my time between Pulaski and Racine. Thank you for letting me put food in your fridges, for fun times out eating, for companionship, friendship and the many laughs we’ve had this summer. Thank you also for the fact that you proved in deed the words “You always have a place to stay with us.” It is a big chore to open your home to a person and have them stay intermittently with you for a time stretching into weeks. I try to be a good house guest, but I know that I was also an inconvenience at times because that’s the nature of the beast. I never ever felt unwelcome or as though you were ever put out by housing Teddy and I. That’s a real testimony to the sincerity of you both. Thank you so much for sharing that with me.  I hope you both know that you’ll always be welcome to stay with me if ever you need.

Art, I’ve been grateful over and over again this summer for your continued friendship and though I express it when it happens, I felt like posting on here would be a good way of letting others know your generosity. It’s not many people who would bend over backwards to let their ex wife be around their son whenever she wants while she’s in the country, lend them one of their cars for the whole summer, let her be present in their house day after day, or lend them fishing poles, coolers, and various other gear to go on a family vacation. Nor would many ex husbands treat the new child of the ex wife with such love and affection. Do you know why AJ still loves me as his mother? It’s not because I’m a good mother. He loves me still because we never stopped being good people to one another. If you had said, “Don’t let the door hit you…” when I moved out of the country, I wouldn’t have a relationship with him. This is one of the cases where absolute power has not corrupted absolutely because you would have technically been able to completely isolate me from him, and yet this has never happened. Of all the friendships I am grateful for in my life, I’m most grateful again and again for yours because it is through your friendship that our son still loves me as his mother with a single-minded, uncomplicated manner. The situations surrounding divorce and remarriages, children etc. are always complex, but you’ve shown me over the last five years that friendship and love are not complex because they don’t have to be: they are themselves and if given enough room in a life they can heal the ugly parts of the complex situations. You are a wonderful father to AJ, and I couldn’t entrust him to anyone else with the peace of mind I have when he’s with you. Thank you again and again not only for the care you take of him as a single parent (a monumental and unrelentingly thankless task), but thank you also for being the strongest facilitator of my relationship with him. Please thank your family for me for being so kind and generous while I was around. You and your brothers and sisters are truly lovely people, and you all show it when you treat people as beautifully as you treated Teddy and I for all this summer. I am grateful beyond words (though these are the best I can manage to express it) for the kind of courage it takes to demonstrate that kind of generosity to an “ex”. AJ asked me this summer about how our marriage ended many times because he’s 8 going on 9.  Mom used to refer to this age as the “dawning of reality” stage, and it’s an amazing thing to be able to tell him “Daddy and I may have stopped being married, but that doesn’t mean we stopped being friends or caring about one another.” I know that years and years from now he’ll look at your loving nature and hope deep down he could ever live up to be the man you are. I also know that if we keep demanding the best of him, he’ll get there.

Friendship isn’t usually an experience one knows as “humbling”, and yet perhaps deep friendships will produce that feeling when the depth of the friendship is allowed to shine. I am sincerely humbled by the love, compassion, generosity and friendship you all showed me through out the course of these past weeks.  This summer you three really let your light shine, and in the warmth of that light I felt, yes, loved, but also deeply aware of the blessing you all are in my life. Perhaps you’ve all guessed that it’s hard to live overseas from your child, and to try to build in only quality time with that child while you have time in the country with him.  Well, all I can say is that without your unstinting generosity, time and again this summer, it would not have been easy, but you all made it a true joy for me to be in the US again with Teddy.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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~ by Rebecca Erickson on August 12, 2015.

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