It wasn't supposed to be this way...Almost 30 years ago on Valentines Day, we said, "I do" as two became one. We thought we would be together forever. You had dreams of "Bennett Kingdom"--you the king and me your queen... Life and circumstance and years later, here I am today. You aren't. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
Nine months and two days later after that first Valentine's Day, we weren't just lovers, we were parents. Too soon but yet not soon enough...Only you would understand that. I remember your giggle so very well when our first was born. You wanted a boy so much but when the doctor said, "It's a girl" you giggled like a kid and couldn't stop. You wouldn't change a thing. She had you at "hello" and you were wrapped around her tiny little finger for life. A brand new dimension was added to your life...DAD.
One more year and you had your first son. You were so proud--you strutted like a peacock. As I lay in recovery, we chose his name. (I was so desperately trying to keep you from naming him after that dirty old movie cowboy!) And you liked the sound of it: Michael Paul. "It's a strong name for a Bennett son," you said, and you especially liked having your own "Mikey."
A little over three years later, our first redhead! What a surprise! Phillip Andrew--another fine name for a Bennett boy. But they had to stick him with all too many needles. You couldn't even be in the same room...We were getting the hang of this parent-thing though...
Then on Father's Day, we got that ominous phone call. Your dad was in the hospital. A seizure...a shadow...brain tumor...cancer. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
Life changed for us in so many ways--this caring for a parent. We grew up. Over a year later, John Elias came along. Remember, Jessica P. was there with you and you were so excited that you got to be the one to measure him...and she got to hold him. When she got in trouble from her Dr. Dad, you said you told her it was ok.
Another 18 months and cancer took your dad from us as death became reality. You faced then the same responsibilities that our oldest son now faces...It wasn't supposed to be this way. He is so young--you were too back then I guess. I was pregnant yet again and sang that day during contractions--acapella no less! That next day after Arnett's service was our first family brunch--a time when we just concentrated on being a family and enjoying each other. Contractions stopped for a few hours. It was a precious quiet day frozen in time...until I went in labor with Zachary. But he was our healing wings, I think--our recognition that life goes on and your dad lived on in you and even in our children.
We thought our family was finished but one by one, a parade of kids came into our home and into our lives over the years--our "adopted" kids...Marian, Stephanie, Blake, Shane, Liana, Sara, Jake, Dusty S., Dayna, Josh, Jonathan, Aaron, Jacob and little Brittany M...You had a way of making each and every one family over the years..."Once a Bennett, always a Bennett," you have said so many times. I can't even count these "adopted" on both my hands now.
Life happened...Children became teenagers and then adults...Over the years we faced circumstances we never imagined and somewhere along the way we quit trying with each other. Words were said that couldn't be taken back and acts were done that couldn't be undone over the years. Anger, resentment, fatal wounds and unforgiveness. We were both dying inside. I sometimes wonder if it would have been different if I had dealt with my depression before we gave up...What I could have or should have done before we went separate ways. But instead, life got so serious and the one became two again...It wasn't supposed to be this way.
But though we were no longer husband and wife, we vowed we would always be mom and dad. We never wanted our kids to have to choose between us like so many others. We didn't do it perfectly but we were getting it. I've been told we were better apart than we ever were together. But it wasn't supposed to be THIS way. Only the dad could truly know and understand those heart-stopping moments the mom endures--a mix of love, pride, and fear--as children became grown-up or go through the vicissitudes of life...As our oldest son became a man, a Marine, and a husband all at once. When we sent the next off to college and independence. And worried over his wrecks. When we watched our daughter make her own decisions--California and back again. You stood ground when other men stole her joy... Only you could understand that hurt in my heart and the joy as the next two boys became men and Marines--the hurt of letting go and the joy in knowing that they were genuinely GOOD men. And only you could understand the hurt in my mom-heart when we heard a bomb exploded and Mikey was injured. Only you could know the joy and relief as each son has come home in their own turn from Iraq and now Afghanistan. Only you know these things because you went through every struggle and every pain of parenthood and their growing up with me. You understood what I, the Mom, can't put into words.
We did a pretty good job with our kids, I think, in spite of it all. In the last week, I've seen each one rise in his or her own strengths as circumstance required and I've seen them pull together as family--one unit. Phillip, you and I--we've had some really hard times but we've had some of the best times ever in the last few years with our kids. I never thought I would have to be mom alone. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
Today is the day we have to say goodbye to you. Today is the last time I sing for you...How many hours have we spent in years past with me at the piano as you listened? How many times did I make you choose my "special" when I couldn't decide? I'm not ready for today. I'm not ready to say good-bye like this. It wasn't supposed to be this way...
But I know God is faithful to watch over our children and to watch over me--to be the big God of the universe that you so loved. I keep remembering those rare but precious times when we talked about faith and scripture. You got excited sometimes thinking about those word pictures. You loved the thought of the resurrection--the grave bursting open as death gave way to victory. You loved the idea of angel choirs singing--God's holy surround sound, "Worthy is the Lamb!" You loved the thought that no matter how weak we are here, we would one day rise on eagle's wings as He becomes our forever strength...And all that we couldn't understand here will be made known and faith will truly become sight. But it wasn't supposed to be this way...This isn't how I imagined it. You aren't here and we have to find a way to go on. But I know that one day we will also rise on eagle's wings....So no goodbye for now...Just "So long...until we meet again."
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. -