My precious daughter, there is no way you are turning 24 years old this month! I am in denial about your age. I look at your sweet baby face in photos and I swear, it was just yesterday!
I have been looking through a lot of your photo albums lately, because that's what I like to do, no matter how old my babies get. I found one particular photo where you were absolutely squealing with joy. It warmed my heart. It's the one I posted it to Facebook, proud to show off that sweet smile that reminds so much of our precious Cooper.
And then, I as I kept flipping through pictures of your childhood, I saw your countenance change. I don't know the exact age you were in the pictures, but it was there. Subtle at first, and then more noticeable the older you became.
When I realized what was happening, I choked back tears as I grieved over how my choices hurt the innocents. Your being only five years old and having to deal with your happy, peaceful world being turned upside down by divorce was NOT fair. Your entire world was thrown into chaos and a new routine that you did not wish upon yourself--new faces, new houses, new smells, new situations that no child should have to deal with.
One day in particular, a few days after your dad had moved out to begin his new life, I was cooking supper in the kitchen. I remember it like it was yesterday. You and your eyes swollen from crying, came around the corner, dragging your overstuffed suitcase. You stopped in front of me and announced through sobs, "I'm going to live with Daddy!" I dropped to my knees, grabbed your tiny frame and hugged you hard to my chest and cried in grief with you, helpless to know what to do to fix it for you. Goodness, even thinking about it makes my cry all over again.
I have no idea if your dad and I could have made it through much longer than we did, but I know that I failed you. We sinned by getting that divorce, and the consequences of our actions have thrown this family onto a crazy ride of half sisters, stepbrothers, stepsisters, step moms, step dads, more divorces, and lots of upheaval.
I think back on that time and know I should have tried harder, insisted on marriage counseling, done SOMETHING, anything, to figure it out. Regardless of the circumstances, I wish we could have determined a way to make it through for the sake of you and your brother. Obviously, it was complicated, and it was just not possible, but I am so, so, so sorry for hurting you.
The guilt I feel is something I have had to give to God on a daily basis. I know He has forgiven me and has obviously blessed me with the love of my life now, but looking at your pictures made the ugly guilt monster rear its head and consume me.
I also know that God has used that tough time to help shape you into the person you are today---a strong, intelligent, stubborn, and beautiful person who won't take crap off anyone. I love that. I was an absolute doormat at your age, and that was part of the problem, I guess.
Hannah, I am sorry. Getting a divorce is not the way to handle marital problems. It is wrong and it is not a solution to trouble. I love you so much and I praying you will find it in your heart to forgive me for letting you down and for not modeling Jesus as I should have during that time. I have tried so hard to protect you and give you everything you desired, but I know now that the one thing you wanted the most---your family back together---was something I could never give you.
I am so thankful for God's mercy and grace. I don't deserve you or any of my children and grandchildren, but God has given me such a beautiful life.
Thank YOU for leaning on the Lord and trusting Him and His power which can turn each and every circumstance--even your parents divorcing--into good for those who love Him.
I love you with all my heart!