Leland and I have not spoken to his parents in over a year. We haven’t seen them in over two years. There is a lot of bad blood between us and though I have been so happy not having them in our lives, I know it hurts Leland every day. Sometime this week or weekend, Leland will be calling his parents. Since I can’t be on the phone with him, I wanted to have my chance to say what I think needs to be said. Here is the letter I wrote them that I will never be able to send.
Dear Edward and Dawn,
Though we both have tried to talk to you on numerous occasions, neither of us actually got to do any talking. Your yelling, screaming and placing blame has gotten us nowhere. We still haven’t had a constructive conversation and Leland still hasn’t had a chance to deal with Edward trying to kill himself. I know it happened two years ago and it is possible that you have both dealt with it and moved on, but Leland hasn’t. And not being able to talk to you about it just makes it worse. Harder even.
You left Leland two weeks after Edward tried to kill himself. Two weeks after Leland spent an entire night looking for his father in the woods because he told a neighbor he was going to kill himself next to an oak tree. Two weeks after I had to help Leland take a shower because he was so hurt and upset, scared he was never going to see his father, his best friend, again. Two weeks after Leland found Edward’s gun missing and a suicide note in its place. I know Leland is a strong man, but you had to have known what going through all of that would do to him. Even the strongest man in the world would have a hard time handling all of those emotions. I know you were doing what you thought was right. I know you thought spending 6 weeks in the Florida Keys was just what the doctor ordered. We were both actually very excited you were going. But we both thought we would be able to talk about that night that forever changed our lives. Leland thought he would have a chance to talk to his father about how he felt. Leland thought he would have the chance to try and understand why his father put him through the worst experience of his life. Leland never got the chance.
Instead, when you returned you were more concerned about your dead plants and the mess our dog left in your house. A mess we are almost certain you made up because we checked the house before we left it. You were more concerned about your plants than you were about your son. I still have a hard time believing it.
Let’s say for shits and giggles, that you are right. You were right about Bacchus ruining your blinds in the living room. You were right that he pooped on one of your carpets. You were right that I intentionally killed your plants. Are these things really worth never speaking to your son again? Never being able to see the man your son has become? Never knowing your grandchildren? I don’t know why I am surprised by this because you have done it before. You have two sons. Two sons who hadn’t seen each other in almost 20 years because you disowned the first one when he was still a child. You actually have two grandsons you will most likely never meet. Please, if you answer any of the questions I have, please answer this one. How in the world does a mother disown a child at the age of ten, deciding to keep the younger one, and then disown the younger one after he becomes an adult?
I know you have never liked me, and to be honest, I never really liked you either. These past two years have been wonderful for me. I haven’t had to defend my relationship with Leland. I haven’t had to point out countless way that I support him to prove that you are wrong when you say I’m a freeloader. I haven’t had to listen to you accuse me of trying to trick Leland into getting me pregnant, even though I have never been pregnant. I haven’t had to listen to you tell my friends that you think Leland is scraping the bottom of the barrel by being with me. I haven’t had to act like I was happy when you gave me diet pills as a birthday present. I haven’t had to see you at all. My relationship with Leland has been better without you in it because now Leland doesn’t have to defend me all the time or run interference.
But for all of those times I was happy you weren’t around, there were just as many times that I was sad that you were missing out on Leland’s life. I was sad when you weren’t there to celebrate his promotion with him. I was sad you weren’t around to share in Leland’s happiness when he reconnected with his brother. I am sad that you still haven’t seen the tattoo that Leland got to commemorate his uncle Leland Charles Cook Sage, Edward’s brother who was killed in Laos and never recovered. I was sad that you weren’t at our wedding. I realize you weren’t there because we didn’t invite you, but I was sad that we were put in the position to have to even consider leaving you off the guest list, let alone actually do it. I am sad that you weren’t around when Leland learned how to ride the Harley and I am sad that Leland and Edward haven’t been able to go on a ride together.
Two years is a long time to miss. If this phone call doesn’t go well and you and Leland don’t figure out a way to work this out, know that Leland will be okay without you. Unlike you, he is surrounded by people who love him. His life is full of love and joy. And though it may take awhile for him to put all of this behind him, one day it will be behind him and he will stop trying to make things better. He is not alone, he will be okay, and you will have to spend the rest of your life knowing that you gave up on two children.