I have been taken to task. Had the red flag waved at me. Been called to the mat. Endured many pursed lips about my, I'm gleefully advised, lifestyle, and the cavalier way in which I raise my children.

To those:

To those who know better

To those who have all the answers, all the knowledge, all the information

To those whose own children, own spouses, own "loved ones" I see afraid

To those I say: "My kids trust me."

Relationships. All relationships: parent-child, friend-friend, man-woman, even employer-employee, are built on a bed rock of faith. And that faith, that faith is intrinsic. It is despite. Despite propaganda, despite "never agains," despite experience, despite intuitive knowledge. Despite.

When real relationships break down (we're not talking convenience here) and the breakdown goes beyond the point love can overcome, it is inevitably, inescapably, all ways because the faith, the trust factor, has been broken. We've all seen relationships go through horrendous strife. Overcome odious odds. Endure. And the bottom line, the mitigating factor, the glue; it's faith. Basic truth has been maintained.

Recently a friend shared his story. Filled in a 20 year gap. I love this friend. Cope and forgive, extend faith, but.

Talking, before the whole story, on the telephone, my friend explained that he wanted to bring his daughter on vacation, but his ex-wife would not allow. I was concerned. It was obvious he was a loving father. That this was something important. I questioned further.

Towards the end of their marriage, when things were bad, as they often can be, at the end (and the end can be a very long time) he would, in anger, threaten his wife, his bride.

"I'll take the child" he'd tell her. "Take the child and run. Then you'll be sorry. Then you'll understand."

I admonished my friend, "Think" I said, "no wonder." His response was, he'd only said those words in anger. The bride should have known. Should have understood. He didn't mean.

"How?" I asked, "How could she understand? By your words? By your actions?"

Later, he came. On vacation. Without his daughter. Sad. Regretful. Small anger still there and gave me the rest. Told me the story.

A young couple. Large city. The USofA. Little money. My friend worked as best he could. A musician. His eyes shone speaking of "high society" gigs, and I wondered, "Did high society know? Did high society care? Why shine your eyes for them?" The arts are hard. Must be understood. The bride waitressed. The restaurant where she worked; its name, the "Columbian Connection", was a pizza restaurant.

One dark night, back when things were very scary (they're still scary now) the police came to their home. Broke down the door. Beat the young couple. Searching. My friend told of holding his hands, and he gestured, protecting his head, unable to serve his bride. Unable to serve even self. Fear. Pain. Powerlessness. Panic. Shattering of pride.

After, after the beating, after satisfaction gained for obscure, terrible terrible reasons, the young couple were arrested. He was taken to jail, she to a hospital. A baby. Unknown and now lost forever. Three days. Apart. No contact. Then court. He told me of his dreadful sorrow. Seeing his bride. Thin, pale, empty. He told me of breaking away. Shaking off his captors. Going to her. Holding her, even if just for a minute. "So she'd know. Why didn't she know?" He told me the Judge knew and asked, "Why didn't she know?"

He told me about the police officers. Their own hell to endure. Losing their jobs. One losing life. He told me of money. It eventually came. Too late, but some compensation. Money meant to ease. Money from the system. Just put out your hands. Endure a beating. Loose a baby. Loose pride, loose faith, loose a life. Here. Here's money. He told me, "too late, too little". The money, it went to pay legal bills, to pay hospital bills, to keep them afloat. Just for a while. "It'll be okay now." They had time.

"High society" gone, name lost, he was forced to work at a department store. A musician. A department store but, he would take care. Provide.

More. More to come. I asked him, "Did you comfort after the miscarriage", despite your own pain, despite, "Did you comfort?" He told me of falling at the department store. A simple accident. A slip. Who could know? He broke his wrist. A musician. His wrist. No time left now, the money went.

And more. Always more. He told me of betrayal. Betrayal of body. A heart attack. At 38. Too young, too soon. Not fair but, by then it was too much. "Why didn't she understand?" he asked, "I just needed time. Just a little more time to get on my feet. To get things together. Why didn't she understand?"

They must have tried, my friend and his bride. There was another child but, the pieces. The trust. The hope. The faith, it was drained. Lost down a convoluted set of pipes, bubbling into the ocean, floating across the sea, perhaps to another, but gone. Shattered. Too many betrayals. Too much pain. Too few truths.

He spoke of more years. Fighting to see his daughter, to overcome his bride's anger, her bitterness. Her lashing out. He spoke of pain, frustration and love. The daughter. The bride was gone, but love, his daughter. There was still hope.

He sees his daughter now. He's a good father. His eyes shine when he talks of the four poster canopy bed he bought her, and his head shakes, surprised he'd do such a thing. Hard lessons to learn.

People express shock at the cavalier way in which I raise my children and I say, "My kids trust me." I've never done anything, anything to shatter that trust. I tell my kids Mom's human, Mom makes mistakes. And I do. In spades but, I confess when I'm wrong. Ask forgiveness. Stand firm when I know I'm right. Crumble easily when mistakes are seen and, I allow. They know. They get annoyed when I'm sick or distracted. They get distressed when I'm sad. They get angry when I'm adamant. And their eyes glow. Glow when I'm all there. For them. And I've never, not once, never ever, you can ask them, never failed to maintain that certain level of truth. They know. They trust me.

And we love. Love goes beyond words. Always has. Always will. Those that feel love know this too.

Sadly, it's not enough.

I promised my friend. I told my friend. My friend knows. I told him if I ever wrote about him. If he ever came into one of my stories. If the time ever came. I'd call him, I'd refer to him as, "the man who used to beat me".

He knows.