When you get married and have kids, you don’t expect to have to say good-bye to your children for more than a few hours or days at a time. Once again, divorce changes your expectations. Since she was born, I had been with Karrie almost constantly. I understood her fears, her giggles, her mispronounced words. I knew what she wanted (or needed) almost before she knew herself. I knew how to comfort her. I knew how to encourage her. I knew because I was her mom.
And then, she had to go visit her dad. Letting her go almost 1,000 miles away from me was one of the hardest things I had to do. Karrie (and Katie) were my purpose for being. This was especially true immediately after the divorce. I needed them as much as they needed me. But with divorce comes visitation rights. No matter how right it was for Rich to see his daughters, it was wrong that I had to say good-bye, even if for just a short while.
And it wasn’t fair that Rich had chosen to walk away from all the responsibilities of being a husband, father, and provider, yet he still had the privilege to take Karrie away from me for a few weeks. I was not in a sharing mood at this point in my life. And Rich was at a point in his life where he thought of himself first – not a good parenting attitude.
In our divorce decree it was stipulated that Rich could not take Katie for visitation until she was two years old. At that time, he was limited in visiting during the day so that she could be home at night. Until she knew him, and was comfortable staying with him, he could not take her out-of-state. He only visited a few hours with her when he came to pick up Karrie. He never got to know her and so Katie is not referenced much in this part of our story.
I knew that Karrie would be exposed to situations from which I desired to shelter her – at least for a few years. I didn’t know who the next girlfriend (or wife) would be. Would she love my Karrie? Would she hate her? (Think Cinderella) Would she comfort my little girl when she missed her mommy? Would she feed her oatmeal? Would Karrie forget me?
While Karrie was away in Colorado for weeks, my prayer life sustained me. With every breath I prayed for protection of my little girl. I begged God to keep her mind pure and her heart full of love for Jesus. I asked for wisdom and strength as I waited to hold her again. I had to ask God to take my thoughts captive, because the enemy knew so well how to make me worry. “She’s not getting enough to eat.” “Rich drives those mountain roads late at night. He could have an accident.” “What if he doesn’t bring her back?” “She may love being in Colorado and want to stay.”
Early on God taught me the one thing that set my heart at ease and let me rest in Him. He taught me that He loved Karrie even more than I loved her. He had her best interests in mind. He was taking care of her when I couldn’t. He took her out of my arms, and He never let go of her. My church family also wrapped us in their prayers. I know the fervent, effectual prayers of many kept Karrie safe and me sane.
The first visitation Rich took Karrie for a week in February. He flew back to get her and then my Dad flew out to pick her up and bring her home. Everything went smoothly.
And then it happened.
In the summer, Rich took Karrie for two weeks. When Dad flew out to bring her home, Rich did not have Karrie at the airport as he had promised. Dad called our lawyer. The sheriff went to serve papers to have him return Karrie, but Rich had moved. No one would tell us where to find them.
Dad flew home alone.
(to be continued!)