I last saw my son when he was 19. I asked him to take care of his mother and sisters when he returned. He left on his Mission for the LDS Church to Raleigh, North Carolina. I am told that he served his mission honorably and returned to our family.
So, why have we not seen one another? That would be by his choice.
The turmoil of divorce has beset many in the world. Hardest hit are the children, and adults, of those that find themselves at a crossroads in life. Perhaps the hardest of those crossroads is when one person decides that their partner has changed sufficiently that there is no point in moving forward. They then assert an escape from certain madness might be the only way out. That is called divorce (more appropriately, breaking up).
It does not matter to the children of those left behind that medication induced for one or the other may have played a significant part in that separation. Or, the things that had been said as a result. It matters not that the children delude themselves into thinking that one part of the family unit is supporting another when abandonment has been the real course taken.
What does matter is that the whole of the family is disrupted and in pain. Uncertainty and lack of compassion leave that family to heaves of outrage and anger. Regardless, no one survives undamaged. Choices then are left to things stated, and unstated, that continue in the destruction of an eternal unit.
My son turned 31 yesterday. I have muddled through this post thinking of what to say to a man I have not seen in 12 years. Even considering whether or not I would even post this year. I postulated that; “He knows that I am proud of his achievements. His marriage, his children, and his choices – for the most part.” But, what remains is the disappointment that his choices have shown him how unfair life can be, yet, he is unable to heal himself of the past. Even as God reminds us there must be a resolution of all things.
Neal. The truth of all things will one day be made known. When we stand before our Creator, there will be no subversion, no lies… only the consequence of our activities here on earth. There will be those who will have spoken both good and ill about you in attendance. They will have nowhere to hide from their perversities. From the things they themselves could not bring themselves to admit. And in that moment of time before judgment, life will play again for all to see. What then will your (and their) life’s true legacy be?
I would give you a small gift this birthday. A request that you always remember this quote from Gordon B. Hinkley:
“In all this world, there is no substitute for personal integrity. It includes honor. It includes integrity. It includes keeping one’s word. It includes doing what’s right regardless of the circumstances.”
In so doing, you will learn that in being a righteous man, you must support the truth. No matter how hard. No matter how surreal.
There is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise—with careful discernment (John 7:24). When Jesus told us not to judge (Matthew 7:1), He was telling us not to judge hypocritically. Matthew 7:2-5 declares, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
My birthday prayer for you is that you take stock of your life. Not just once, but every year, month and day. Be sure of yourself and your actions. For if ever you are accused of something, even if later proved false, you will never be looked (or trusted) again in the same manner. And those you loved will find themselves embarrassed to even make contact.
“Lying is done with words and also with silence.”
I have made my peace as I await your fulfillment of the other promise made to me on your departure. In the meanwhile, let me leave you with a little levity from the creator of Charlie Brown, Charles M. Schulz:
“Sometimes I lie awake at night, and ask, ‘Where have I gone wrong?’ Then a voice says to me, ‘This is going to take more than one night.’”
Happy Birthday, son.