Daily Prompt: Moved to Tears
Describe the last time you were moved to tears by something beautiful.
What is it that we find beautiful? Beautiful is such a subjective word that it’s meaning and range are defined uniquely for each and every one of us. I have a story of something beautiful that happened to me, of the lifting of a dark cloud that hung over me for so long I had learned to redefine the colours of my world in more subdued tones. This is my story.
When I was a very young man, just nineteen years old, my girlfriend gave birth to my first child – a baby son. I was a child raising a child but I loved him as fiercely as any man can love his little boy. We called our son Wayne, and the truth is he was the apple of my eye. The following year we had another baby, this time a little girl. Our daughter, Danielle, was less than a year younger than her brother, and I am ashamed to say that I didn’t make her feel as loved as I did my little boy. I don’t know why that is because I have always loved her, but somehow I never made her feel it.
Time passed and the children that were their parents began to grow into adults, discovering along the way that their hopes and aspirations were hopelessly mismatched. By the age of 24 we had gone our separate ways amidst a bitter break up that saw access to the children used as a way to achieve revenge for perceived wrongs.
I sought legal advice but as a penniless young man in 1990 the law was an instrument of justice that was simply beyond my reach. I was granted weekend access to the children but this was routinely ignored and with-held by my ex-partner and their new stepfather. I went back to my solicitor who informed me that my only recourse was to take her back to court which might ultimately mean prison for my ex-partner.
This was simply not an option – what child would love a father for putting their mum in prison? Years passed by and I sank into deep depression, mourning for the loss of my children, resigned to the fleeting sporadic visitations that at times became as rare as yearly.
On those precious few occasions I did get to see them, the meetings were awkward, the children clearly uncomfortable, as though their mere presence with me was a betrayal of their mother’s and stepfather’s love.
I consoled myself that when they reached maturity they would learn the truth, and would know that I would have had them with me in a heartbeat, and would forgive me the absence from their lives that weighs like a burden on me to this day. But the truth is that they have had hard lives. They have suffered greatly, and their lives have been deeply and lastingly affected by my absence, and the love, care and protection I was so impotent and ineffectual in providing.
Unsurprisingly, as they embarked on adult life they did so without me. They have lived, loved, and made their lives with partners of their own and eventually I lost all contact with them. I have another family of my own now, as you will know if you have read much of my blog where they feature regularly, and I bathe in the loving embrace of my wife and children, soaking up every last drop of their affection. Yet wondrous as it is, it does not wash away the guilt of my failure, or the chronic ache of my loss.
Rafael, my youngest is now five years old, yet somewhere out there I have two more children and six grandchildren who never see their grandad, five of whom are older than Rafael. I had not seen or heard of my eldest son, Wayne, since before Rafael was conceived.
So this is my pain. I know it is not worse than the dreadful suffering that many people out their endure. I know there are people who have lost loved ones under terrible circumstances and to all of you I beg forgiveness for my self-pity. I didn’t write this in search of sympathy, but simply to state a context for the miraculous and beautiful thing that has come to pass in my life. Events that moved me to tears of happiness, not just as they happened but again as I write these words.
A couple of months ago my daughter Danielle got in touch with me by facebook, and she has invited me to visit her and her children in their new home in Wales. I am naturally very excited about this and we are planning to make the trip the week after next when I have some holiday. I never asked her about her brother, I didn’t want her to feel that I was using her to get to him, but the contact with her made me think about Wayne more, and I began to consider the growing possibility that I will never see him again.
And then the miracle happened. I was driving back to work after collecting some building materials and had become stuck in the holiday traffic outside the Bournemouth International Centre. It was a hot, sticky, sunny day and my windows were down as I waited for the line of traffic to start moving again. A car horn beeped repeatedly behind me and I raised my hand out the window as if to say ‘what can I do?’ The horn beeped again and I leant out of the window to see someone smiling at me from the car behind.
The guy waved and smiled and I thought to myself that the poor guy obviously thought I was someone else. He beeped again insistently and I leant out again and said ‘Who is it?’
The guy just said, ‘It’s me, Wayne,’ and suddenly I recognised him. I was desperate to find a place to stop, to see him before he drove away again and he must have realised this because he said, ‘don’t worry, I’ll follow you.’
I turned into the first available car park, watching him all the time to make sure he didn’t drive off – I was terrified he was going to vanish and be lost to me. He didn’t drive away. He parked his car next to my van and I got out, walking quickly around the outside of the van to meet him. He was twenty one the last time I had seen him and he was now a man of twenty eight. He stepped out of the car smiling a little gingerly, my little boy grown up, the apple of my eye, my dear, dear, precious son.
I clutched him to my body, my head in his neck, kissing him again and again, and like a ruptured damn my emotions burst from my body and I sobbed like a baby, great racking sobs of happiness at a moment I never believed I would ever have again. I am crying now. As I think of my boy, imagining I am holding him, just like the day he was born. Beautiful.
That was about a month ago, and it gets better. They have moved into a house about a mile and a half from where I live and the grandchildren are calling me granddad and hugging me as if I have always been in their lives. We are all looking forward together to a new start, thanks to a chance meeting in a traffic jam, on a hot summer’s day in Bournemouth. I can’t remember the last time the sky looked so very blue.