"Name my three sons as beneficiaries of every asset I have, divide everything in three, remove all trust conditions and make this will be the last will I will ever need to write" became the theme of my thoughts in the months that preceded my youngest son turning eighteen years old.
My thoughts of having three adult sons have felt diverse and complicated and simple all at the same time. This is the first time since I was seventeen years old that I have not had a dependent. I thought I would be in a different place in my life when I became single, without dependants. I'm not sure who I thought I would be but I guess I simply assumed I would "know". I can die, now that no one is dependent upon me, has been a predominant line of thinking.
This sounds more morbid than it actually is. My first marriage was a complicated one and I was terrified of dying at any time while my first two sons were still dependent upon me. I could not have rested easy, knowing the potential mess I left behind. Things wouldn't have been as messy had I not been able to fulfil my parenting role with my third child but it would have been complicated enough. I simply wanted to be here to raise my own children. Plain and simple.
My children have all been raised but I truly believe there is still much parenting left for me to do. I look at my diverse family of four and I see four individuals at four different forks in the road. Each one of us is feeling and going through something completely different than the other and my present day wish is to find a way to unite us in our diversity.
I want my children to feel strength in their brotherhood. This is no easy feat when an average of ten years separates each one of them and there is a twenty year age span between my youngest and my oldest. There is a parallel division of ages within my own siblings and our family ties are strong and united. This is the gift I want for my own children.
Then there are the words my cousin spoke when she remarried after her children were grown. I can't remember her exact words but they were something to the effect that her first priority after her divorce, was raising her children. Once they were independent and on their own, she could think about remarrying. And she did. When her youngest child was twenty years old.
This thought spawned many others. Like "who am I" now that I have technically raised my children to adulthood? What kind of "package deal" am I, when all I am is me? My identity is going through a transition and I am not entirely certain who I am and what I have to offer to another person or a relationship.
I have perspective. I have maturity. I have debt. I don't have a financial plan. I make a living but I'm not living my life. I work but I don't have a career. I try to be kind but I fail at times. I do the best I can but I often fall short of what I expect of myself.
As an afterthought, I asked my lawyer what would happen to my (now) current will if by chance I was to remarry. I clarified my query with the disclaimer, "This is as unlikely as me paying off my mortgage before I die, but if per chance I was to remarry would this nullify my will?" The short answer to that is "Yes". The long answer is "Now that my life has the potential to be simplified, would I want to complicate it?" The short answer is "Yes, I do believe I do."
There were many thoughts streaming through my consciousness as I walked through my youngest son's graduation day. So many thoughts. My emotions were stable but there was much going on beneath the surface.
As I sat in the auditorium with every beneficiary named in my will and three out of four of my "in case of common disaster" clause, I thought if some horrific disaster consumed the lives of all of those underneath that roof, there would only be one man left standing who was named within my will.
I thought that crazy, insane thought and shook my head. Who in the world thinks thoughts like that on a day that is supposed to be a full on celebration? Then I woke up to the news that has been going on around us. Shootings, rage, terrorism and a feeling that one never knows when a life could be lost is prevalent within our world.
I cannot focus on the unknowns and all I cannot control. The only thing I know how to do, is to spread kindness, try to raise wholehearted children, keep peace and tranquillity within our home, our hearts and family. I know how to listen and hope the words that escape my mouth and fingertips are ones of compassion, honesty and openness.
Our world is feeling very divided. I do believe what I wish for within our world is what I wish for within my own little family unit. "Each one of us is feeling and going through something completely diverse than the other and my present day wish is to find a way to unite us in our diversity."
We can't change the world. But we can change ourselves. I hope you look kindly upon those who are different than you today. Spread kindness in the hope that it grows and prospers. Kindness wins. I truly believe there is much more good than evil in this world of ours. The evil is getting far too much publicity. Ignoring it and pretending it isn't happening is probably not the answer. But how about reflecting kindness and compassion to those who frighten and threaten you? What if we looked Fear in the eye and listened to life from their perspective?
"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."
~ James Baldwin