I had a strange hope and feeling the other day while talking with my boss.  His son and daughter-in-law have been mired in painkillers and meth over the past few years, to the point now of her being in a revolving rehab cycle and him being in prison for 18 months.

Their two children, five and three years old, are now in the care of their grandparents – my boss and his wife, and their father’s mother – and have adjusted quite well to a new life of stability and love.  They are intelligent, kind, well-mannered kids, and they have a good chance as it stands to go on to live a productive, fulfilled life.

The DIL – who I will henceforth refer to as “R” – is also possessed of severe personality disorders, of kind and number sufficient that you could probably spin a wheel with a random list of the usual variety and hit the jackpot.  She’s mean and spiteful, and refuses to take responsibility for the position she is in; she texts family members and blames them for her troubles, reminding them that she is a good mom and that the family has screwed the kids up – nevermind that her and (as he will hence be referred to, “B”) dragged them around town at all hours, sleeping in motels and trucks and, ultimately, losing all their possessions when they didn’t pay the rental truck company.  She’s sick in the head on top of the drugs, and likes to believe she will get he kids back and disappear with them forever, robbing the grandparents of the joy of watching them grow up.

Unfortunately for her, she’s on her last leg.  Having failed a number of drug tests and tox screens, and having failed to hold a job or place to live, and having failed to show up for her supervised visits with the kids or without the money to do what she scheduled for them to do, she’s been read the riot act and is going to pay come November for what she chooses today.

Which brings us to my strange hope and feeling (these things are important, dear reader): I genuinely hope that she (“R”) cannot get her life together, and that she falls into the pits of misery and waste, and that the state gives formal, legal custody of the kids to the grandparents and that they never see her until they are grown.

And I realized that was the first time I have ever genuinely, from-the-bottom-of-my-heart, with all my conviction, felt that way – and I didn’t know what to think about it.

The immediate feelings at having thought and said this were myriad, chiefly: did I really just wish the worst failure and destitution of a human being short of death?  But that wasn’t where the real feeling came from: it was from the realization that in this life, the chance and hope of a good life for some people rides on the failure at life of some other, and that the only way these two intelligent, thoughtful kids would ever make it is for their mother to never have custody of them again and, perhaps even, to never see them again.

But on the other hand, being myself a man of many struggles – and believing that Providence has sacrificed a great deal to allow me to be so – I am asked and obliged to hope counter to my thoughts.  To hope that B and R find redemption and live happy lives with their two happy children, and that they all may know the love of which they are capable.

You see it’s not so much what we think, but how we challenge our thoughts.