When she hangs up the phone, this day in the summer of 2022, my wife tells me that our daughter has made the decision to divorce her husband, after twenty years of living together. We felt that the atmosphere in their home had changed, and if my wife is rather relieved by this outcome, for my part, I did not imagine for a second that this could happen. I’m even devastated. I come from a united family, from an environment where we did not experience such situations. How will my daughter’s four children cope with this separation? The entire family is shaken by the event: us parents, but also grandparents, uncle, aunt, sister-in-law, brother-in-law. Everyone has their own explanation: “Whose fault is it? Him, her, someone? » I am urged: “You should call him. You know, the father’s word is important…” When our daughter comes home for the first time after her decision, I am distant, not very talkative. I keep my criticisms to myself. But my discomfort, my sadness shines through.
And one Sunday, at mass, the priest read the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15, 1-32). The text so familiar to my ears traces the journey of a son at odds with his father, who leaves home for unsavory adventures. After squandering his inheritance, he ends up returning and asking his father for forgiveness, who welcomes him by covering him with kisses. I know the parable by heart. She shows great values. But in this moment, in the church, I hear the words in a new way, as a word spoken to me. And what father am I? How can my daughter view her father? I did not see her suffering, as the burden of guilt weighed on her in front of her children, after a decision she had never considered. Where is this welcoming, generous, loving father from the much-loved story? I realize that my daughter is screaming “help!” “.
A week or so later, at the nephews’ house, she is present. And I open my heart to him: “I have not been a good father. – Don’t say that, you have always been there for me…” she replies. I evoke the parable heard on Sunday. She knows her, of course. And we cry in each other’s arms.