Sometimes, it can’t happen this side of Heaven.

There’s a knot in my stomach because I’d rather keep these words hidden in my journal, but I think I need to post them.  God, I send these words out in your name, that they may land where you will have these seeds planted.

Here goes.

 

Some relationships cannot and should not be restored this side of heaven.

When David cried out to God for mercy, God forgave him.  But he did not erase the consequences. Grace runs freely; consequences remain.

Sometimes a broken relationship remains a safeguard for everyone involved: if it is fixed, then the people involved could overlook, forget, or minimize the shrapnel of a battle scene.

There is a reason we remember.  Grace abounds.  Consequences remain.

Forgiveness is not restoration. And some relationships cannot be restored this side of heaven.

Danny Tanner

I’m at the White Chocolate Grill.  I haven’t been here since I came with Robb.  For a moment I thought I was sitting in the same table, but I think that’s only because I can so easily imagine him across from me.

 

That doesn’t happen very much anymore.  That sweet ache of an almost vivid memory.

 

It’s Gabrielle Monday: the boys’ weekly date with our babysitter, the neighborhood boys’ weekly delight as the prettiest girl in the history of testosterone arrives with all her charm and maternal instincts to grant me my night off. (Is there a chorus in your head right now?  There is in mine.  Always with those words: night off.)

I have challenged myself to eat somewhere different each time.  But I’m not sure what difference it makes since I’m always likely to order something with fresh avocado, a wedge salad, an aged balsamic, and preferably bread and soft butter.  But I pretend I am bold.

 

The boys have been watching an episode of Full House, on repeat.  Well, they’ve watched it twice.  But they haven’t deleted it from the dVR line up.  It’s the one where Danny goes on his first date after his wife has died.

 

Joey and Jesse are so excited for him to enter the dating scene.  Danny is nervous as hell, and he does all those stupid, goofy Danny Tanner things that are quirky and unrealistic.  The girl he is taking out is the Hive Mother of Stephanie’s Busy Bees Club.  She’s skinny, and she never takes off her Busy Bee Antennae.  Danny tells his daughters he’s going on a first date, and then he woffles back and forth – should he go, should he not – by cancelling and then affirming his date with Linda over and over again.

 

The thing is, in part, they’ve got it right.  Nervous as hell.  Stupid quirky things that I can’t believe could be realistic.

 

DJ is most offended by the idea of a new date, a new woman in Danny’s life.  Stephanie is her most charming life stage and doesn’t really know what’s going on.

 

(Sidenote: – It’s really a bummer for child actors who piqued at age 4 when they were hired.

Lucky find: Michelle Tanner.  Unlucky find: Rudy Huxtable.  It’s a gamble.)

 

Anyway, DJ does all kinds of things to guilt her dad into abandoning his date with Linda. She believes the date will mean Linda is her new mom.  She believes that even though the date might make her dad happy, her mom will be very sad somewhere.

 

Finally, Danny sits down with all three girls.  He explains that a date doesn’t mean marriage, which is something I remind myself often. Danny says something wise and important, although I have to confess I haven’t listened directly, in part because I don’t really want to think too hard about the words, and in part because I want the boys to believe they have happened on to this insider scoop on their very own, that they have elite, unauthorized information on the life of a single parent.

 

So, Danny says (something like),

 

Girls, I’ll always love your mom.

She was the love of my life.  She and I made three little miracles together, and I will always love her.  That will always be true, even if I marry someone else someday.

I know what your mom would want for me, because she and I talked about it before you were born.  We decided that we wanted you girls to be taken care of, and we wanted each other to be happy, not lonely.  

 

And the music rises, and he hugs each of his children, and they all agree he should go on the date with Linda instead of staying home to eat ice cream with the girls.  He pretends he doesn’t want DJ to call Linda, and yet he knows the number by memory.  The typical 555- of sitcoms.

 

And then Danny decides what to wear, and Joey and Jesse become his fashion coaches.  And the whole thing gets very distracting because I really want Joey to wear a belt with his Z Cavariccis.

 

The episode ties its neat and tidy bow as Danny and Linda are heading out the door.  Thank the heavens above that she has ditched the antennae.

 

I just kind of want to know about the date, though.  There’s something so sweet and innocuous about Full House.  Corny or not, I know it would go well and be over in 26 minutes.

 

The boys have watched this episode the last three nights before bed. Today, while I was doing dishes (read: cleaning up Tyler’s science experiment when he couldn’t clean up any longer because of his gag reflex), Tyler asked me if I feel lonely because Daddy is gone.  And I didn’t have to wonder where the question was born.

 

I think the writers of Full House should have invested more in Danny’s life in the later years, instead of all that nonsense with Jesse and Rebecca and Nicky and Alex.  But I get it: John Stamos is exponentially more handsome than Bob Saget.  Ratings.

 

Anyway.  My guacamole is here.  With a side of wedge salad.

Foreword Afterthought: Basketballs and Defining Relationships

Foreword Afterthought: 

I don’t write about the people I date, have dated, will date. If I go out with him, my respect for him is both implicit and explicit: he will feel my respect in my actions, and the world will see my respect in my words.

When I wrote this piece, I aimed to show what I was teaching my sons about authenticity, about the differences between loving someone or keeping them around for the benefits, about holding a standard for a man who suits me as a lover and them as a dad, about patience and faith and readiness.

After I published this piece, I realized it sounded disrespectful to Sam.  

Sam, I’m sorry.  And you deserve a girl who will light up your world, not the interwebs. 

Please forgive me.

* * *

 

Tyler left his small basketball in the garage. I ran over it, it popped, and the lesson therein is don’t leave your toys under my van. Unhappy things will happen.

We were in the car yesterday, and Tyler said, “I really hope we can see Sam again.”

Sam and I gave a good year to trying to make a relationship work, and it just never took flight. Not for lack of chivalry, conversations, gifts, or trying. Sometimes you just can’t help the flame find the wick.

“Guys, I don’t think we will see him anymore.”

“What? Why?”

“Well, he’s just not going to come around anymore.”

“Why? He always gave us presents. And I want a new basketball.”

“Well, buddy, I can get you a basketball.”

“Why can’t Sam?”

“He’s not going to visit us anymore.”

“I don’t understand why he wouldn’t want to come back.”

I don’t intend to tell them this, and yet here it comes: “Guys, Sam just wanted more from Mommy than I could give him. He wanted to marry me.”

Silence in the backseat.

“Sam was your boyfriend?” I wouldn’t say it ever got to that point, no.

And then Tyler says, “Mommy, that was your one chance.”

He says this as though I passed on dessert and now there is none left. He says this as though marriage is simply about an offer.

“Lovey, I’m not looking for a chance. I’m waiting for the man God has for us.”

“And he wasn’t the man?”

“He wasn’t.”

“Why?”

“Sometimes someone has feelings, and the other person doesn’t. And it gets tricky and complicated, but you just have to say goodbye when you can’t make it work. Like when you’re playing at the park and someone wants to join your game, but you kind of want to do your own thing.”

“Well, you always tell us to be kind and let that person play the game.”

True. Not my best analogy. “Well, it’s a different kind of game when it’s grownups.”

“So he’s not coming back?”

“No.” And this is why I don’t let you meet the people I have coffee with. Because I don’t want to explain the intricacies of defining relationships to children who don’t yet know multiplication.

“But I wanted a new basketball.”

“Do you want to see him? Or do you want a basketball? Because it’s not a good idea to want someone in your life just for what they can give you. If you want a basketball, we can get a basketball. But that doesn’t mean he is the man God has for us.”

Silence.

“Okay. Can I have a basketball?”

That’s what I thought.

Foregone Conclusion

“Tricia, you seem to write and think and talk about marriage as if it’s definitely going to happen. Like it’s a foregone conclusion.”

Actually, that’s exactly what it is. I know I’ll marry again. I know this with an absurd sense of clarity and assurance.

“So does that mean you’re seeing someone?”

Nope. But one doesn’t need the bird in her hand to know that she’s made for the nest.

I think he’ll know that he knows. I already know that I know. We simply need to know each other. There is a place in my heart with his name on it, even though I haven’t yet fallen in love with him. But I’ll know when I do.

I think he’s looking for me.
I think he’s been waiting even longer than I have.
I think his heart has been broken in the way that brings perspective.

Perspective that shows you not to worry about little things,
not to fight about stupid things,
and to let most of it go
in the name of peace and grace and love and
I’m happy to see you again.

Perspective that shows you it doesn’t matter if the boys’ fingernails are trimmed,
that sometimes it’s good to eat dessert first,
that hellos and goodbyes matter,
the scattered Legos are a work in progress,
and silence is a language all its own.

I think he loves God and asks questions.
I think he’s solid in his career,
he’s established and confident,
and we can fearlessly support one another
and dive into a life of words together.

I think he’s smart and funny and thinking, and thereby the most handsome man in the room.

I think he’ll be afraid,
because so am I,
because the only way to be fearless is if you’ve never loved to a place of brokenness before.
I think he’ll be courageous,
because so am I,
because the only way to live is to love enough that you might break into pieces.

I think he wants to be a dad to somebody.
Or to two somebodies.
I think he understands the heart of an artist,
the mind of a writer.
I think we can walk alongside one another,
creating a sum that is greater than all its parts.
I think we will create.
I think neither of us can breathe unless we do.

I belong to him,
and I’m making today’s decisions with him in mind.
I think we will be great.
And we’ll know when we know.

It’s a foregone conclusion.

Classiest Breakup Ever

That’s a good man who will buy a cup of coffee for the girl whom he believes is about to break up with him.

I didn’t intend to break any hearts in this season of my life.  I did not.  But sometimes I just know that I know I can’t continue down this path without breaking …  something.

The worst is when I don’t want it to end, when I really like him, when conversation is endless, chemistry is palpable, when I really wanted it to work, to be great.

(Great is the word I use when I can’t think of the better word that means amazing.)

He waited for me at a table just inside the door.  There, with my drink, waiting for me.

He took both of my hands and said, “Hey, you know what?  It’s okay.  I know why you’re here, why you asked for coffee today.  This isn’t my first rodeo.  I’ve said goodbye to a great girl more than once.  I will forever think you are amazing, I will speak well of you, and if you ever need a friendly companion to join you for an evening, I will be honored.  But this, today?  It’s okay.  Really.”

I had written a few sentences in my mind on the drive to Starbucks, but they were nothing I was excited about or wanted to hear myself say.

And he, knowing that my emotional energy is a premium commodity, did all the talking for me, in a graceful, gracious, blue-eyed way.

“Hey, you.  I know what you need to say, and I know you don’t want to.  So let’s not make you.  I can do it.  And it’s okay.”

Pure class.