On the Friday evening of our final day in Norfolk, something happened which I wasn’t sure at some points in the past 10 years would ever happen.
No1’s dad and stepmum organised a surprise 21 birthday party for him and invited us, my parents and MrS’s children along. A few years ago I think this might have been unimaginable. My ex and I have never been at loggerheads but our relationship was one of detached necessity, as are many post-divorce relationships that involve children. He is very happily remarried to a lovely lady (who I knew before they got together) and the kids all get along and they have created a wonderful environment in which No2 now lives whilst he finishes his A Levels. Over recent years as our sons have become young adults, the issues became less and communication became simpler and easier. In short we have made this work for the sake of the children. But also for our sakes too.
I was over the moon when he invited us – however much people think one should do these things for the “sake of the children” it doesn’t make them easier. Whilst we contributed to the cost in a small measure it is entirely due to them organizing the party that it happened (No1 had strenuously resisted the idea of having a party, so I gave up. They did not!) They contacted his friends through FB and made sure the party was in the Easter break so that those at Uni could come.
In addition to those friends of course were those my ex and I had jointly shared, some of whom had made clear their loyalties and I had not seen for over 10 years.
It made me feel very awkward whilst we were all waiting to surprise No1 I can tell you. But I had expected this and was toughing it out. Until that was, out of all those people I’d not seen for 10 years, the first person to come over and speak to me was my nephew (son of my ex SIL). My 30 year nephew. My 30 year old nephew with Autism, who had, it seemed, not forgotten me at all in all those years.
“Are you Lara?”
“Yes, hello C, how are you”
“I’m alright thank you. Do you know it’s been 10 years since we’ve seen each other? I just thought I’d come and say hello because it’s been 10 years”
“Thank you C, it’s lovely to see you. I think you have a big birthday coming up don’t you?”
“Yes, I’m going to be 30. M has a girlfriend and he lives with her now.”
“That’s lovely, what about you, do you have a girlfriend?”
“Oh no, not me. J does though. And they’re going to live with each other”
“Well that’s lovely. Are you still living with your mum and dad?”
“Oh yes, I can’t afford to live on my own, it’s too expensive you know”
“I bet you still do your own chores though don’t you?”
“Yes I do”
“Well it’s lovely to see you, thank you for coming to say hello”
“Well I thought I’d just say hello because it’s been 10 years you know”
“Well I’m very glad you did. Thank you”
At this point I had tears streaming down my face. We had a big hug and he went off back to his mum and dad.
Later in the evening I spent time talking to all my ex in-laws and it was lovely to catch up. I asked my SIL if she’d mentioned to Chris about me coming and asked if that was why he’d come to say hello (I know she used to have to prepare him days and weeks in advance as a child for events) but she said no, he remembered me clearly and had done it all off his own back.
There was some awkwardness with others who chose not to acknowledge that I was even there or that they had once known me but the evening passed and Jack had a great time which was all that mattered. I wonder if I would have dared to go if it wasn't for MrS.I think I would but it would have been an awful lot harder. It was difficult enough as it was but both MrS and I spent time with Mr and Mrs Ex and Mr Ex and I had the longest conversation we'd had in person for a long time, proving that as far as our sons are concerned we are still singing off the same hymn sheet and ultimately both want them just to be happy and be the best person thy can be. Because, even though we haven't loved each other for a long time we both love them very much.