Sean Whalen, founder of Lions Not Sheep Experience, was moved to write a stunning and powerful recount of his parents' divorce while out to dinner with his son at a Chinese restaurant.
Accompanying the essay/poem was a photograph of his check and a hundred dollar bill left as payment to a new waitress — a single mom — at the restaurant.
Whalen's sparse, gripping prose captures the ugliest side of divorce. It evokes the trauma experienced by children when a marriage burns down, and the long haul that single mothers often face in the aftermath.
Describing how he is forced to flee his house with his mother after a huge fight with his father, Whalen tells of the shock that comes when they return home, only to find that all of the locks have been changed: a day, he writes, "forever etched in my mind."
"I'll never forget the cops handing me a black trash bag saying I had ten minutes to take the necessities.
I loaded up all the clothes I could fit into the bag, and that was the last time I ever stepped foot into the house I was raised in. "
Although the experience may have hardened Whalen in some places, watching his mother struggle for a future for him and his brother left him with a sense of compassion and kindness.
He recognized the same weariness he remembered in his mother as he watched the server.
"Over small talk and water refills, I got the sense that this single mom didn't want to be there, but had to be there and she was doing her best to smile.
It tore my heart out.
I thought of my mom, and I saw the same hustle in this woman that I saw in my mom."
The post — and what Whalen did as a gesture of solidarity and respect for single moms — is inspiring and heartbreaking and will leave you with a profound respect for working moms everywhere.
Read it in its entirety below.