Monday, July 28, 2008

A promise fulfilled; a mooring lost

In 1984, my father was on his deathbed and I made him a promise. Or more accurately, he asked me to do something and I agreed. I mean, how can you say no to your dying father? He asked me to stay in Lawrence and watch over my mom as long as she lived. I agreed. I was bound by that promise for the last 24 years.

Over the years, as I passed up opportunities to live and work elsewhere, I often regretted making that promise. Not because I didn't love my mother (I do-- a lot), but because I felt as if I was being pulled down by an anchor. I felt as if I was drowning. As an only child, I had no siblings to rely on. Thank God for my wife Teresa. Her help and support made it possible for me to keep my promise.

In fact, that promise is one of the reasons I went to law school. I needed to find a different way to support myself without leaving Lawrence. Or at least I thought I did. I was actually feeling like I was imprisoned and confined by Lawrence and I needed new intellectual challenges.

After awhile, I began to think that maybe the "promise" was something I'd conjured up in my own imagination; an excuse to take the safe path and not blaze a new trail for me and my family. A few days after my mom's death, an aunt told me how proud she was of living up to the promise I'd made. I'd forgotten that she was in the room when I made the promise. I wasn't imagining the promise.

Today, the promise I made has been fulfilled. But instead of feeling that I am no longer under anchor, I feel as if I've lost my mooring. I feel as if I've been cast adrift. I don't feel free; I feel lost.

Wrapped up in all of this is the Kansas Bar Exam. I am sitting for that exam tomorrow and Wednesday. It all seems so ridiculous and insignificant today. Maybe I'll feel differently in a week or a month. Maybe I won't. There's just too much uncertainty right now. But one thing is certain--I am again at a crossroads in my life. And to be honest, I don't know what path I will choose, what direction I will sail. My mooring is gone and I'm not sure where the tides will take me.

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