It’s Easy?

“It’s easy to have faith when you’re with someone you love.”

That just came out of the episode of ER I’m trying to get lost in. Of course it made me think of Philip. And it made me think of a text conversation we had three years ago. I typed it into Word so I wouldn’t lose it. See, my faith came in part from Philip. He had my back. When I’d get shaky at just how alone I was I’d say, “I have my kids.” I could feel my son behind me, steadying me. It’s that male energy of protection I longed for. That was where our relationship had evolved to; he hadn’t caught up to me yet, but he was getting close.

Then he goes and dies. WTF?? But if I am honest, I have to say that he is everything but visible. He cracked me open and I am gushing things I’m desperate to put words on. If I can say it, I can contain it. So I think. But it’s not to be contained; it’s to be flowing and I’m to go along for this ride because this is my reality. Fighting it doubles the grief.

Still – I am scared. And I wonder what this need is to be witnessed; to show you that Philip really was here and really did love me. I’d mentioned that I was writing a post about what a “swell mom” I am, and that need is part of what I’m writing about. It’s difficult; I haven’t been able to get it right. But I also haven’t had time to think. I just moved, the apartment needs work, I’ve been distracted by looking for a job.

Oh. I didn’t tell you all. I got a job. I. Got. A. Job. I interviewed Friday, got an email with an offer on Saturday. I didn’t even have to wait the weekend ;o) More on this another time; just let me say that beyond the relief of having a job, I actually want the job. There’s much to say about how it all happened…

I’m going to post the text. Philip was 19, had finished his freshman year at Rutgers, was living in New Brunswick. It was a Friday night that had turned into Saturday morning; I’d trained to be an EMT and was doing my weekly overnight shift. He was thinking of me, decided to get in touch. In the conversation, I heard him trying to figure things out, trying to express them. I’d been separated from his dad for a year, and we talked a bit about the divorce. Philip seemed to be handling it well, but he hadn’t really told me how he felt about it. This, then, was a first.

(Much as I’ve been determined not to make excuses, I’ll say that what he said at the end was a loving joke that I’m not sure anyone would get but me; I understand it was also an honor. It was said in the context of me being alcoholic.  And “M” stands for Me.)

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010, 12:59am:

P:  I appreciate you mom 🙂

M:  Hey – what was that for? Love you ;o)

P:  Drunk discussions haha. I obviously love you but appreciation means more. I feel like I’m the only one on your side 🙂

M:  Well, I thank both you AND Johnny Walker. Heh. You are my light and I love you no matter what.

P:  Hahaha no hard liquor for me tonight, just beer. But I mean it. I love and appreciate you and love you to death. I hope everything’s ok, it seems like it. As much as I’m your shining star, you’re my fucking inspiration for life.

M:  How funny you should say that. I think I’ve been unhappy for a long time, and I’m sad to think of how that affected you. I don’t mean recently – you know what that’s about. I mean a long time before. I don’t know what things looked like to you, but what matters is that you know how much I love you and always, always have.

P:  No, you were both great parents and raised me very well. Admittedly the divorce fucked me up bit it’s ok, I think marriage is a silly institution. I’m happy with my life as much as I’m disappointed with the current state of things.

M:  Do you mean disappointed in the divorce? I don’t think marriage is silly, I just think it’s difficult, especially if you think about how long people live and how long they’re expected to remain together. But I don’t think lack of commitment works so well, either.

P:  Yeah, but it’s fine. I don’t know – humans are very social and the idea of devoting yourself to one person forever is absurd, but devoting yourself to raising a family makes sense. I don’t know, but don’t blame yourself for my views.

M:  I don’t “blame” myself because there’s nothing wrong with your views. I think it’s better for children to be raised in a committed family. It’s just difficult to stay with one person for life because if we’re committed to finding the truth of our lives, we’re going to discover the patterns that drive us. And sometimes the changes we have to go through to get to the other side means we cannot stay in the same relationships, even if that’s scary. It takes courage to live a fully realized life. Most of the time we’re flying blind. Things don’t get figured out once and for all; life doesn’t work that way.

P:  Good and I know you stuck it out as much as you could. You raised me and Natalie great, and I hope she realizes that. I know she has to deal with it more than I do, but I don’t mind, I understand things change, emotions change, and I feel that that has made me more ready for the future than any bullshit fucking family ever will.

M:  If by “bullshit” you mean continual pretense, then yes. People stay together for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with love. Faking happiness doesn’t lead to real happiness; and sometimes people stay together at their own expense because they need to feel needed. It’s harder to live a happy life than a miserable one.

P:  Exactly. People feel that they have to maintain some sort of image and that’s not what life is about. I don’t know about miserable vs. happy, but the traditional idea of happiness is much harder to achieve. But I don’t know. I’m gonna go to sleep. I love you so much I wanna be drunk in person with you hahaha. Night 🙂

M:  Hey, it’s a date. ‘Night and love you.

P: Haha you too, I’ll see you at noon

M: ‘Kay.

© 2013 Denise Smyth


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. behindthemaskofabuse
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 21:31:44

    I wish I knew what to say. Here with you xo


  2. Denise
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 21:43:56

    What more could I ask for? Hugs back to you.


  3. Lucia Maya
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 22:49:28

    Wow – so many things in one post… first, congratulations on getting a job you want! That’s wonderful and a huge shift! Next, when I want to get lost in tv I watch Grey’s Anatomy, so I think it’s funny you watch ER, maybe I’ll try that if I ever finish Grey’s.
    Finally, you’re an amazing and wise mother. I love that you could have this conversation with your 19 year old son, sharing such depth and wisdom, so personal and talking of the big picture as well. He was also amazing and wise beyond his years. So grateful to get to know you both.
    love and blessings, Lucia


  4. Denise
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 23:09:54

    When I wrote in one of my posts that I watched 13 seasons of ER in as many months, I should’ve added that was along with Grey’s Anatomy. Natalie and I’ve been waiting for season 8, which just came out…

    When I commented on your post, I meant to say that picture of Elizabeth is stunning – the colors are so vivid, and there she is. She belonged everywhere she was, didn’t she?

    I just realized what I said. Does that mean that she – that Philip – belongs where s/he is now? What a question. They are where they are, but they are still all around us. Everything but visible, eh? But it’s the visible I long for. I think Philip is trying to teach me patience as well as faith.


  5. tersiaburger
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 09:27:24

    Oh my friend – words from Heaven. Phillip cherished and loved you so much! you are blessed with amazing memories. hugs xxx


  6. Denise
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 09:39:18

    And when is Vic’s birthday? I hope I didn’t miss it. I want to light a candle for her. Even if I missed it, I’ll do it anyway.

    Thinking of you…


  7. leedee888
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 10:41:00

    Hi Denise, been reading your blog (I don’t think the word ‘blog’ accurately captures what you’re actually doing, but nontheless, this is what it’s called). You have a great capacity for letting the reader into your soul. You ARE an inspiration to me. I’m so happy for you that you’ve found a place to make a home for you & Natalie. It’ll be fun making it your own. And how fortunate you are that you got the job you WANTED! That’s not so easy to do these days. You go Girl!! I wish for you everything that is good and happy and meaningful and safe and, well, the list goes on. Keep writing, each sentence is so profound and compelling. You give me a boost of much needed strength. I hope we will stay in touch. I think about you always. Lots of love to you and Natalie.


    • Denise
      Sep 02, 2013 @ 20:42:38

      Lee, I love you too. Last week I had a long talk with Carol, and I told her how much I love you both and we’ve not been in touch for decades. What is time, then? Here we are, and my heart is yours.

      I’ve been…somewhere or other. So much is going on, and I’ve not been returning phone calls or answering emails. I’m sitting down to write now, bringing my focus back where it belongs. I’m off next week; let’s talk. Love you so…


  8. leedee888
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 22:06:17

    Hi Denise, just a quick note to see if this will post properly. I so look forward to talking to you soon. 🙂 hugs, Lee


  9. lensgirl53
    Sep 16, 2013 @ 21:18:46

    WOW….to have that in writing…in your memory bank….in your heart….to know you can resort to it for comfort and the knowing of your love for each other….and that there was no guilt, no blame, no pretenses or fake happiness…but just honest mom and son talk… mom and son love. I have so much of Brandon’s but not in a conversation form as you have but I did have a son who wrote and I cherish all of his words…right down to his very small print. I am glad for you because I know just how much this means. Blessing and love,



  10. Denise
    Sep 17, 2013 @ 05:10:46

    Thanks Dale; yes, it means much. I “hear” him when I read that. Just Philip, Just me and Philip. Having their writing is a piece of them manifested now. Makes me miss him more, makes me grateful to see in writing what we had…what we have, just not in the way I want.


  11. Becki Duckworth
    Dec 18, 2013 @ 11:31:23

    Phillip was wise beyond his human years.


  12. Denise
    Dec 18, 2013 @ 12:32:30



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