I guess that's something that I'm always going to struggle with a little. If God is leading someone in their journey, like Catherine, and He gives her an idea that she needs to make peace, to settle things, well, far be it from me to shut a door that God has opened. I listened yesterday, and I heard her appealing to me, to be a part of my life, to be a part of my children's life. It was puzzling to me. As I explained to her, my children are adults. Their relationships with others are their own. You know what I mean? I don't feel that it is my place to get in the middle of those sorts of things. She needs to take that desire and lay it before the children. She needs to establish that relationship with them herself. As far as a relationship with me, well, I guess the time for that relationship is past. The kids are grown. The need for any co-parenting has passed. She seemed to want assurance that our relationship was restored, yet since we'd never had a relationship, I'm not at all sure how we could restore it. Still. If God was moving in her heart, I didn't want to be shutting any doors.
I was cautious in my words as I spoke to this woman, because her history is to be a collector of words, to save them up and use them at the first opportunity. She spoke of reading my letters to my ex, confusing to me, since we have not corresponded in a dozen or more years. Longer than they have been married. We'd met in the army, and we'd written for some time before we'd ever run in to each other again. A great deal of our relationship happened on paper. She told me that she thought I was an angry woman. That narrowed it down. She must have read letters I sent to him while he was in prison. He'd written me, asking for information on the kids, wanting to know how they were doing. "I was angry," I said to Catherine. "That was a devastating time for me and for the kids." That's the truth. It was a horrible time. I remembered wanting to know why? Mostly why. The big burning question: WHY?!!!!!!!!! As if once I had an answer, I'd be able to make sure that it never happened again. I don't know. I can't tell you what went through my head during those days. It was a rough time. I answered his letters, and that was about it. I never received a satisfactory answer as to how he could have done this terrible thing. I never received any sort of satisfactory explanation of how our life had gotten to that point. I finally figured that I would not ever have that explanation, that he probably did not even know himself. When he got out of prison, he began to call the kids on the phone a couple times a year. The letters stopped. It's surprising to me...I kept none of his letters. They're gone. I did not want them. They did not bring me what I wanted to know, they did not fill in any blanks. I honestly don't remember what I wrote back to him during those days, but they apparently convinced his new wife that I was a horrible person. "Yes," I told her calmly. "It was a big betrayal, to our family, to me." Hard not to take personally. Inside, I wondered at a woman who would go through her husband's letters. What was she looking for?
I picked my words very carefully yesterday. This woman has told each and every one of my children that no molestation had ever taken place, that I simply wanted a divorce and so fabricated the charges. She has been vocal in her belief that Tim and I have not raised moral, Christian children. What does that mean, actually? They were raised in a church. They know what Tim and I believe. I also believe that they need to make their own choices. She sent me a very wicked piece of hate mail after Christmas. She apologized then, with many a tear (after I threatened to take it to the police), and I believed her to be sincere then, but within weeks, she was fired up again, this time outraged that Brianna had chosen to walk down the aisle with Tim and I on one side, her father on the other. She apologized later, telling Brianna 'but you have always been a liar, you have to admit that...' (in effect justifying her own bad behavior by pointing the finger back at Brianna).
With this history between us, I picked my replies to her very carefully. When she began to talk about the kids, I sidestepped that. To be a part of their lives, to know how things are going with them, she needs to be in contact with them. When the conversation turned to criticism of her husband, I plainly told her that I was not comfortable talking about my ex. If she has questions about him, she needs to work it out with him. My opinions do not, will not, should not matter. The words are best left unspoken.
I don't know what she got out of the conversation. I was not a perveyor of information. She's half a continent away. Would the kids be open to a relationship with her? "Ask them," I responded. Although my final words to her were, "If you plan on opening that door with Brianna, you better be sure that you are willing to keep your criticisms and your unkindness and your judgements to yourself. She is a broken child, and it is not her fault. I pray for that girl each and every day. If you believe in God as you say you do, you will accept the fact that nothing is beyond His capability to make right. Don't you dare step into her life and make things even worse because I. Will. Not. forgive you for that." Those words were fierce, because I wanted her to know that I meant them, so I said them and then I burst into tears. She cried at that, admitting that she had been awful.
I've been mulling over this conversation. I don't think that I have closed any doors that God might be opening in Catherine's heart. I've come to the conclusion that it is what it is, really. As with anything that God is trying to do in our lives, we don't see the end of the road. We are led, step by step. If we are His, we follow, not knowing where the road will lead us, but trusting that He does. We simply take that first step and wait to see what happens next. If God is opening a door in her heart, I imagine that at some point, He'll open that same door in mine.