What Do You Mean?

Every year, my family goes to the movies on Thanksgiving Day. I can’t remember how, why, or when this tradition started, but I think my mom’s deep love of popcorn—movie theater popcorn in particular—had something to do with it. So on Thursday evening, right after my mom secured her medium popcorn with extra butter, we sank into our reclining seats to see King Richard.

King Richard is the story of Richard Williams (father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams) and his role in his daughters’ rise to fame. Richard, played by Will Smith, pushes his daughters to excel in a predominately white sport and his efforts pay off handsomely. Venus and Serena are two of the greatest tennis players of all time.

The film was fantastic. #Nospoilers here, but there were many amazing moments in the movie. The one that inspired this post is honestly one of the smaller details, something many people may not have given a second thought.

In one emotional scene, Richard’s other children were mentioned.

Now, the only two Williams children I was familiar with were Venus and Serena. After seeing the movie, I looked up Richard Williams and learned he was married before his relationship with the Williams sisters’ mother. In fact, his previous marriage resulted in five children—three sons and two daughters.

I wondered how these children felt, watching their father pour into their other siblings. How they interpreted their father’s actions. If they blamed themselves for their father’s departure.

Divorce is a tough experience, especially for the children involved. When my parents parted ways, I felt like my father didn’t try hard enough to make things work. In my eyes, he abandoned us. He chose his drinking over me and my mom.

How would I feel if he then sobered up and made a new family with new kids? If he gave those children a solid, stable, supportive father figure? If he gave them everything and left me behind?

Confused. Devastated. Worthless.

I know this small section of the film wasn’t the major focus, but I felt something in my heart break when I learned of the other Williams children. I can’t speak for them or act like I know exactly how they felt growing up. But as a a child of divorce myself, I know the kids involved have a unique perspective. I hope all the Williams children (now adults) have the relationship they always wanted with their father, even if that is no relationship at all. I pray they were able to get the resolution and closure they needed.

I dream for the day I’ll have the same.