By: Rebecca Perlman Coniglio, LCSW
Author of Lily’s Little Life Lessons, www.amazon.com
Do me a favor next time you are in class look closely at your friend sitting next to you, close your eyes and imagine that someday on a sunny Spring Sunday you are attending her daughter’s sixth birthday party. It is a wild thought, right! But it could happen. That is where I found myself this morning.
In middle school I became friends with a new girl who moved into my town, I will call her Amy for privacy sake, although she is cool and probably wouldn’t mind. Anyway, she was and still is a character. Amy’s parents were divorced like mine, but her mom was remarried and had a young son. Her mom was a neat lady, who often pulled me aside and told me that I was her daughter’s most “normal” friend. That made me feel good then and it still does now. What I could not have known was that by the time we reached high school everything would change.
On Valentine’s Day of our sophomore year, Amy’s mother died tragically in a car accident. The day is frozen in my mind, and even now brings tears to my eyes. Amy wound up moving in with her father, step-mother, biological brother, and two half brothers. I hope I am getting all of this right. That is why I chose to share this story-Amy’s family is a reality show in the making. Her other half brother remained with Amy’s step-father. I know there was drama before and after Amy’s mother passed away, but I was only 16 then, so I don’t remember all the details. What I remember is that Amy and I kept in touch for a while. I thought about her all the time.
Time passed and we went our separate ways. Life does that to even the closest of friends sometimes. When my daughter was a newborn, Amy walked right back into my life. It was a time when we both needed a friend. She had an infant daughter too. Fast forward to today. Our daughters are five and a half and six years old now, and they are friends.
When I was at her daughter’s party today, I could not help but reflect on the cast of characters that make up Amy’s family. I was also trying to take my mind off the smell of cupcakes! Amy’s father and step-mother were there; her biological brother and half brothers were in attendance as well. Every divorced family has their story and no two families are alike, but for one minute in time it felt like there was a sense of peace in the room. One of Amy’s half brothers was taking tons of pictures of the birthday girl, people were laughing and smiling and just having fun.
As a child of divorce, when I see people years down the road and all seems well, it always amazes and impresses me. I know how difficult and challenging it can all be, but time moves us forward. Here is what made me feel so happy in my heart today. All the grownups were there, acting like grownups for the sake of a loved little six year old. Amy is married to a good man who is a great dad and Amy is loving mother. I only wished that Amy’s mom could be there too to see how it all turned out. I know she would be so proud of all of her children. Of course more tears, but that is ok-it is all good.
Teens, I wanted to share this story with you as a message of hope for the future. Life can be messy, family can be messy, but it can and will get better. Look around you; learn from your friends, you never know when and where you will see them again someday.
Once again to my friend Amy, my mom, my grandma, and all the moms out there-Happy Mother’s Day!!
Tell me what you think and how you feel-I would love to hear from you.