A few days ago, we attended my niece’s 16th birthday party. A very special girl with some challenging special needs, this milestone was cause for a great celebration.
There, I spoke with Swenny’s dad, who shared that he is aware of his recent relapse thanks to his youngest son who had the difficult task of informing their dad. Facing health concerns of his own, I chose to spare him the worry but during our conversation regretted that decision.
Outside of our family of four, Swenny’s relationship with his father has suffered the greatest. When drinking, he closes himself to others, leaving his dad to watch his decline from afar and navigate the accompanying heartbreak alone. While there is time to heal relationships with his children, time with his father is limited. How can Swenny begin to acknowledge the hurt he has caused his dad? Repay him for the worry he has spent?
And why does his dad wait for Swenny to begin a conversation so long past due? While I wouldn’t characterize his silence as shame, we spoke in whispers only after my mother-in-law and Swenny’s oldest brother were out of earshot.
Swenny’s relationship with his dad is built on love, but defined by expectation. And in this case, the expectation is that we keep this to ourselves. We work through it alone, even when there is so much to be gained by sharing.