by Richard L Cohen
I am a 58-year-old single male. Until I was roughly 50, I wanted what so many people want: love and marriage, children, a home life and a career. After five decades of pursuing "my dream," it would be true to say that "my dream" has changed. More honestly, I don't even know anymore what "my dream" is.
For far too long, I pursued "my dream relationship," only to finally wake up to the reality that I needed new glasses to clearly see that relationship for what it truly was. It was a fifteen-year nightmare, the heavy price for which I am still paying today.
Thank God that there is one incredible blessing that made the otherwise devastating relationship worthwhile. That blessing is my precious son, Jonathan. Jonathan was adopted as a baby in 1987-88, and he is a large part of why I tried to stay in the relationship with his mom as long as I did, even though after four broken engagements, his mom and I never married. Regardless, I was a big part of the process that brought Jonathan into our lives, and us into his. And I am his Dad! My son is now 19, full of energy, handsome, intelligent and a wonderful athlete. I am very proud of the young man he is becoming.
Regrettably, because of the legal dynamics of the situation, his mom had, until recently, full and final say in almost everything involving his life, including where he lives. Until 1998, my son went back and forth between his mom's home and mine, except for the all-too-frequent times she disappeared from my life and took my son with her. Then in August 1998, she moved about 1,000 miles away into the home of her new boyfriend. For over six months, I did not know where my son was. Because he missed me so much, he finally got his mom to break the silence of the secrecy and deception. Since then, I have flown him back and forth to be with me at all his vacations from school. Until a year and a half ago, he still wanted so very much to move back home with me, his Dad. But because of his mom, that wish was never realized, and both he and I have finally become resigned to that reality.
The thought of taking him and disappearing did cross my mind. But I never went beyond the fleeting thought because I knew that to do so, and to give my son a life on the run and in hiding, would be terrible and unfair to my son. I have always believed that a child needs and deserves both a mom and a dad, and unless she posed a danger to him, I would never take his mom out of his life, regardless of my opinion of her.
Everybody changes over time, but adults do not change nearly as much or as rapidly as young children. Since Jonathan was very young, I was always afraid to send him home to his mom, for I knew that she might disappear, and take him away from me. And after all the many times that he and I were forced to be apart, when we reunited again Jonathan had always grown and matured. After each separation, I was aware of the changes, and that some of his precious childhood was forever lost to me, and me to that portion of his childhood. This has been one of the most difficult and painful realities I have experienced in my lifetime.
Our sojourn in this life is short enough, and childhood is even shorter. When it is over, we can never get back what has passed. While I have always known that I have been blessed by having my son in my life, and have always been overjoyed for our time together, I have also always grieved for what has been lost, lost to both of us. I always try to make the most of our time together, even moreso now that he lives 1,000 miles away when he is in school. But I know that I am not with him at all of his football games, as I was when he was younger and lived here. I know that I have not been able to be with him just before and after his first date. And the sadness over our time apart is ever-present.
As best I can, I have gone on with my sojourn in this life. Several years ago, I met a new woman, and have grown to love her deeply. She is wonderful, and is very dear and special to me. But the years that have passed have changed me. The dreams that for so long I held dear to my heart -- those dreams have also changed. I still want to be happy, and to share that happiness with the woman I love. And as always, I still want to share in as much of my son's life as possible, although he is not a little boy anymore. But beyond this, I no longer know what my dreams are.