His Children, His Brokenness
Mark had been a creative father, loving his children and building a family full of good memories. But his affair confused and hurt them. He became a father so different from the one they'd always known.
Mark can’t deny the pain he caused to his children. They were the witness to his lies and his sendoff. His children lost times of joy and purity that he can never give back. They were injured. When Mark sees their scars, they were aching, knowing that most of those marks came from wounds inflicted by someone who should have loved them better.
When Mark first became a father, he couldn't stop visualizing what life with his daughter would be like. He wondered how he would share all the important moments: first steps, first words, first day at school, boyfriends, birthdays, holidays, family vacations, driving, graduation, and wedding.
The celebration of his daughter’s sixteenth birthday wasn't quite what he'd imagined. Mark sat in a house that wasn't his home and tried to overlook the awkwardness of being in a room with former friends and in-laws. Even though his affair had ended years ago, there was still gawkiness in many social settings. People who use to enjoy being around him weren't quite sure what they were supposed to say.
Mark became a spectator, watching as people moved in and out of rooms and conversations, and recognized that he felt less like a family member and more like an invited guest. Usually, he would have been fully involved in such special event, injecting his own mix of resourcefulness and surprises to create a special memory for his daughter. His duty this year was to bring the chips.
He left the party, but couldn't shake the feeling of loss and regret that had settled in him. As he drove home, he started to cry.
Mark doesn’t remember much else about that night. He welcomed sleep as an escape from his sadness, but he couldn't get away from it. When he woke in the morning, he was still crying. The tears turned to sobs—the deep kind of sobs that pounded like fists into the grief buried deep inside his chest.
It was nearly an hour before he was able to maintain even a little control. He reached for his phone and called Anne. Between sobs he managed to tell her how sorry he was for the promises he had broken, for the lies he had told, for the pain he had caused.
Mark’s sorrow was genuine, coming from a deeper place than it had ever come before. Anne needed to be a witness to it. He knew it would help her in her own healing.
Nevertheless, this brokenness did not restore their marriage. Their lives and circumstances had separated enough to prohibit that, but it did clear the way for them to start treating each other with respect, and even a kind of love, again.
They were both remarried now, but they enjoy a kind of exclusive friendship that Mark value. The pain of the affair and divorce will never be totally gone, but grace is able to cover so much.