*A Cautionary Tale: Brace yourself, this is personal and ugly, and that’s just how it’s going to be.
Tomorrow Today (it’s past midnight) my mother and father head to court to end their marriage of 25 years.
Today also marks the 30 year anniversary of their first date.
As I walked home from work, I wasn’t sure what this day would bring. My Wednesday night spot is a little Irish bar three blocks from here – an homage to Boston – where I can watch my Bruins plays without hearing “Boston sucks” chants from a peanut gallery of Yankees-Ballcap-wearing-New-Yorkers (not that I don’t love them). So, am I the girl will break down into tears when Pete (my favorite bartender) asks, “How’re ye doing today Miss Bell?”
Or will I wait for my friends to get out of work, bottle of champagne in hand, ready to toast to the end of a battle?
I suppose we’ll see on how things go really. If my mother doesn’t get enough in alimony, she’ll lose the house, and she and my brother will have to live an entirely different life than the kind of life myself and my two sisters grew up living.
He’s a freshman in high school, living alone with his mother, now that the two sisters that were still living at home have left. My baby sister’s in college and I’ve left our cowtown – for reasons I’m still figuring out – to go to NYC.
I go home a lot. Mom’s lonely, and my brother misses me more than he’d ever let me know. But I can read him like a book sometimes. Plus I’m lonely. NYC is amazing and I love it, but I love going home. Sleeping in my own bed (yes, I’m still living on a futon in a stranger’s apartment), cuddling up with my puppy (she’s only 6lbs, she’ll always be a puppy), watching a movie with my family. Simply being able to walk downstairs and hug my mother, or my brother, or my sister can do so much for my sanity, it’s difficult to explain.
My Thanksgiving this Sunday was incredible. Minus a minor bout with Mom, which was followed up by some crying and hugging, there was no negativity. It was positive and happy and there was a lightness that somehow made the air seem sweeter, the room felt a little warmer, and our hearts and shoulders seems to shrug off the awful pressing weight of the big D word. If even for a moment, it was a glorious one, a day that should have happened far more often in our blessed lives.
I’ve found that since my father left, these days have happened more frequently, or perhaps I notice them more. Before, what should have been great days seemed laden with tension and irritation, fighting and biting sarcasm. What changed? I think there was a negativity he carried with us, that needed to get out.
While I hate the way he chose to do things, and I hate the way he is fighting in this awful mess, I’ve somehow found a bitter sweetness in this whole thing.
I don’t speak to my father. It’s no secret that our relationship is entirely non-existent now. At one point we were best friends, and now, I can’t even see him when I look at him. It’s like he’s somehow disappeared. Yes, I know, “What if someday you look back and you wish…”
I’ll handle someday when it gets here. For now, I just ask myself every time I make a conscious decision to not speak with him, “Would your day be better if you spoke with him? Do you have anything (constructive) to say to him? Would life be a little easier if you were friends?”
I’ve never been one for the easier road (except in college classes but that’s a different story), so that question is always irrelevent. But I still ask it. Would my day be better if I spoke with him? No. My answer keeps being no. I’ve been able to find positivity and happiness without him in my life – a feat I found near impossible to accomplish when we were speaking. His negativity was overwhelming, no matter how many positive things I pointed out to him, he never saw things in the light I saw them in.
Perhaps this negativity led to his adultery and choice to leave his wife and four children for the (now ex) wife of a family friend. Perhaps he could no longer muster the strength of having a wife with a fatal allergy and a shopping disease, and four kids who’ve never wanted for a thing in their life.
The weak leave, the strong stay.
I had a dream one night that we were all out to dinner together, laughing and eating and joking. I woke in tears, because I knew that day would never come. Perhaps the day I answer yes to one of my questions, I’ll write an email, or pick up the phone. Only time will tell.
Today, I wonder, will I pop a bottle of champagne? Drown my tears in a pint of Guinness and a shot of Jamesons?
Rather, I think, I will carry on, like any old day, while silently being thankful for the 22 years of a faithful loving marriage that I was blessed to witness, mourning the father that I once knew who taught me honesty and loyalty, the husband my mother may never stop loving no matter how hard she tries, and the friend that could always seem to make me laugh – even at the most inappropriate of times.
This is not a place I ever thought my family would be in, with all the hardships that we’ve endured, I thought we had it covered. ‘Check them off the list,’ God says, ‘they’ve had their fill.’
Perhaps he said, ‘They are strong enough to take a little more, let’s give it to them, because this other group over there – they won’t be able to make it. But these are my strong ones, they will sustain, endure, and grow strong.’
Yes, that must be it.