It was my eldest child’s High School graduation. I bought her a great gift and was planning to give it to her at her Mom’s (my ex) house after the graduation. I attended the ceremony and sat alone. I saw my ex, her new hubby, her parents (my daughter’s grandparents) and church friends (that used to be “our” friends) enter and sit across the auditorium. I could see them but, because the crowd was so large, they couldn’t see me. When they announced her name, I sat silently while my ex and company yelled and clapped and carried on. As soon as the event was over, I got into my car and drove to “her” house and waited, eagerly anticipating her reaction to my large monetary gift. Well, large for me.
I sat in my car waiting for the others to arrive. I knew it would take awhile since it was such a packed event. I had gotten up and got out quickly so yeah, I would have to wait a few minutes, maybe as much as fifteen. After 30 minutes I realized they weren’t coming. They must’ve arranged an “after graduation” party to be held somewhere else but I didn’t know where. So I started driving around, looking. I went back to the graduation venue, but it was pretty much empty, as I suspected it would be. I drove by the “friends” houses to see if they were hosting a party, but no, no activity, completely dark.
Finally, it hit me, the church, the Family Life Center. I drove over to the church, and sure enough, there were many cars, all of which I recognized; my daughter’s car, her boyfriend’s car, my ex’s car and my daughter’s grandparent’s car. I saw our friend’s cars and, the most shocking, my brother’s and sister’s family cars. My family was in attendance. I got mad.
They were fully aware of how my ex was. How she cheated, nearly openly, telling me the other man was the love of her life and going so far as to call the police on me in an attempt to force me out so she could be with him. How she attacked me verbally and even physically at times, leading up to when I finally was able to afford to leave (I never made much of a fuss for the sake of the children. I had come from a home where the parents fought, and I knew how bad it made the kids feel).
I got out of my vehicle and went to the door of the Family Life Center and peered in. It was dark outside but well-lit inside so they couldn’t see me. I was going to go in and just suck it up and be a man and not engage my ex and her new hubby in any kind of confrontational way. This was my daughter’s day. But I paused there at the doorway, peering in. I took it in. They were all in there milling about, eating, laughing, music playing. I knew if I entered it would be like the needle on the record scratching noise and everyone would go from enjoying themselves to feeling awkward.
I turned and took the envelope of money to my daughter’s car and placed it in her front seat and left. I cried all the way home. Mostly because I knew, this would be my life from then on, and it has.
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