Emma was an audacious child. One look at her strawberry blonde hair, freckles, and shining green eyes let you know she was a handful. Her smile let you know you couldn’t resist her. James had his hands full raising two young girls alone. My heart melted as I watched his large clumsy hands gently place the little daisy earring into her tiny ear.
I had been dating Jack for several months. Of course dating a single father meant trips to pizza, miniature golf, or beach picnics. There were no quiet romantic dinners with two young girls in tow. Saturday night was movie night at home on the couch with plenty of snacks and girls in between us.
Sunday nights seem to be the hardest on Emma. I would see them three days in a row on the weekends but often didn’t get to see them during the week. She would begin to get clingy around dinnertime. She knew I would be heading home soon. When time came to leave, she would hold on to me and beg me not to go. I tried to reassure her, but memories of her mother leaving haunted her young mind. Her mother had not called or visited in over two years.
I fought my own demons of abandonment and neglect as a child. In those moments, her pain became mine. I would give her one last kiss and walk out the door. Her cries became louder with each step.
“Come back, Cathy. Please.” Her “please” seemed to draw out for at least five or six syllables. Don’t go. Just come back.”
The first time it happened, I turned and started to go back to the house. James stepped outside. “Cathy, don’t come back. Just keep going. It will just make it harder for her. She will be OK.”
I walked to car each time, with tears in my eyes and a heart that was breaking. I started to wonder if my own mother had felt the same pain as she walked away from me when I was only four years old. I wondered if she thought about my tears as she drove away again when I was seven.
I thought about the pain I caused my own children when I moved away and left them with their father. I moved to another state four hundred miles away. I was a practicing alcoholic and addict. It would be four months before I got sober and six months before I would see them again. After each trip back to visit them, I would feel such despair as I drove away. However, I knew I had work to do before I could come back to them.
I wondered if God stood calling and begging me to come back as I walked away from Him. I wondered if God felt that same gut wrenching pain when I didn’t answer Him. I wondered if God and my children could ever forgive me.
My children are both grown now and we have an amazing relationship. I have the three most beautiful grandchildren. I was sober when I met James and Emma and Annie became my stepchildren. Emma is getting married this year and Annie is the mother of two young boys.
I always understood that God is love. I knew He loved the world enough to send Jesus to bring salvation to us. I just wondered if He could really love this flawed authentic me.
Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I don’t have to wonder about anymore.
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