Today, I came across a photo of my children that was taken on Halloween, 2011. In it, my daughter is 11 and dressed as Cookie Monster; my son is 7 and dressed as a magician.
The magician’s hat is a little too big on his sweet head, and his smile is tight-lipped and crooked. Cookie Monster is seated next to him, grinning up at the camera with her beautiful eyes, her arm placed protectively around her brother.
As I studied the picture, I caught my breath. There, reflected in the mirror behind them, are their parents.
I am snapping the picture, and their father is making a silly face to get them to smile. My children had both parents, together in their home, getting them ready to go trick-or-treating.
That was before.
Exactly 18 months later, their father would leave. He would return – and leave again – a couple of times in half-hearted attempts to remain married to me. I would try everything within my power to get him to stay.
We are now divorced.
As I look at this picture, it seems to me to be a perfect metaphor: The parents are barely noticeable, but the children – the most beautiful reflection of their parents’ relationship – are right there, side by side, in clear focus.