Some names have been changed or removed to protect those in the family who would not want their names known, or are still active JW's. Ruth
A MOTHER’S REGRET FOR A RELIGIOUS DEVOTION
Today March 11th 2008 I take out a video of past family reunions. The family reunion disc I pick up randomly happens to be from 1986. I have not seen any of the videos sent several weeks ago to me, but I know they cover a range spanning 25 years within the ________ family. I remember bits and pieces of them but I look forward to the video jogging more of my memories. I smile a little, thinking of my sons in 1986 so small back then.
I’m glad that my husband of 5 years is out for a while so that I can look at them without the distraction of converstation. When my boys were small, we could never afford the luxury of a video camera. Uncle Clarence and Aunt Martha had generously given me copies of all of the family reunions that they had filmed over the years. I smile remembering those good times with my ex-in-laws; they are all fine people I’ve come to love and have continued to have affection for.
This video of my ex-husband’s family reunion was taken 22 years ago, when our two sons Drew (4 ½ yrs old) and Dak not quite (2 years old) were very young. I see my two oldest sons running around playing as the picture comes to life on the TV. I smile and laugh watching them all those years ago captured by the camera, playing and laughing with their cousins. I see myself very big and pregnant 6 months gone with Dirk our 3rd son (he was born a few months after this reunion). I recall suffering from the summer heat, being pregnant made me hot anyway and this was filmed in late August. I had gained weight and collected lots of fluid in my legs and ankles; no matter how active I was all day chasing the boys. Then there was the fatigue from a long 2 hour bus ride with two whiny children to listen to as I tried to occupy them hoping they would fall asleep during our trip there.
Gosh watching this video, the whole day is coming back to me like it was yesterday. I watch as our ______ clan lines up along the wall for a photo, all together captured in time. I see Uncle Clarence and Aunt Martha and there is my ex-mother-in-law Mae, Archie’s sis Donna and her son Jimmy 15 months old, another sister Carol smiling and talking. I spot Archie’s brother Paul with his wife Angela large and pregnant, ready to give birth to their second-daughter, and great Uncle James and Aunt Aileen though they have since passed in death today. I smile at the memories touching the screen as I sit close; video paused, as I reach for it longingly. Nice memories of happier days.
I look so exhausted in the video, I remember being up all night with Dak the night before. He had a fever and just wanted me to hold him all night as he sucked his thumb and held his blanket snuggled against me. My children’s father Archie looks handsome, fresh, and full of energy searching for our oldest boy Drew. He snatched him up laughingly from playing and brought him over to the group setting him down in front of us. In the video I am holding Dak and I handed him to Archie to hold so that he doesn’t press on my big pregnant belly where I feel Dirk kicking in protest inside of me. I remember it seemed we stood there for such a long time. Everyone taking pictures wants the chatting to stop so that they can get the shot and move on to the next family group. All the while we were being captured on video unnoticed by us all. I see Dak pulling at my shirt from behind wanting me to take him and begging me to hold him. He is crying and reaching. I had forgotten this happened and am struck by this vivid image of that moment. Dak’s very black hair and black eyes are so intense and determined to climb back into my arms. I clearly see Dak wearing the little gray corduroy overalls I loved him in, with trucks and planes embroidered on them. I remember how I carefully saved them for Dirk to where when he was born. Dak is struggling & kicking so hard against his Dad to get to me to take him; I can see the tears on his sobbing face. I am struck with such a pain and guilt as I see myself pushing his hands away, as he is laying his face on my shoulder leaving wet tears on my shirt and my look of irritation as I looked at him on my shoulder, pulling me from behind. I can feel it and I can feel how horrible it was of me now years later, for losing that precious moment of holding Dak because I was tired, hot and sleep deprived.
I start crying as I’m watching this scene. I’m gripped by emotions, as I see Dak tugging on my shoulder crying “Mama, Mama”, and seeing my hands pushing him back. In frustration I turn to Dak and say “No Dak, be still just a few more minutes, Mommy is just too tired and hot to hold you now.” I can hear my comment to him which cuts through me like a knife. Drew stands and squats alternately in front of me and his Dad waiting to go play again laughing and making funny faces. Dak’s whining and then crying and I remember feeling so frustrated in that moment with the responsibility of having 2 little ones to deal with 24/7 and being pregnant as well. I just wanted my sons to leave me alone and quit needing me so much. I remember my thoughts back then of “What the heck was I thinking having kids so late in life, I’m 36 years old and it’s just too much for me. No one warned me that it could all be gone in less than 4 hours and that I’d better enjoy it while I could. No one every told me that every moment with our children is precious and that bad moments like that one caught on video can come back to haunt you years later.
I’m sobbing now I can’t watch anymore; I remember how frustrated I was that day and how I feel right now. The guilt I feel as my middle son cried for me only to have me push him away. This forgotten moment is coming back to slap me hard with guilt from years ago. I feel like my heart is being ripped from my chest, and I can’t breathe. I’m vomiting now on my carpeted floor as I hear the noisy family reunion blaring from my TV. I want to die, the guilt is too much, and too painful as images of the past are clearly shown as though they are today.