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My animals are keeping me company this afternoon.  Chester the cat curled up in my lap when I got home, then moved to his bed on the ottoman.  Nick the sheltie showed me his canine love by sitting next to me on the couch, his white front paws across my lap and his head across my chest.  Love me, Nick said with his brown/blue eyes.  Nick basked for a while as I stroked his chin and behind his ears.  He is in his usual place on the floor in front of the ottoman  as I write.

Coming home was difficult today.  The house was too quiet.  I texted Mir.

It is final.  I’m home but the quiet is going to drive me crazy.

Mir was at her lunch lady job at the elementary school.  The kids are in school.   Our house never felt so empty.

This morning I went to court with my friend John as he and his wife, Sherri, finalized their divorce.   A few months ago, when he told me that he had discovered emails and other things on her iPad that showed she was cheating on him, I offered up my ear.  Since then, we have spent several evenings together agonizing over the myriad of challenges that revelation was presenting to him.  John trusts in God.  They have three boys at home.  He wanted to do the right thing, but Sherri was showing no remorse for what she had done.  She did not stop seeing other men even though John did not ask her to leave.  When it became clear that divorce was going to be the option to choose, I made another offer — if you need someone to go with you on the day you have to go to court, I will go with you.  I told him that I have done the same for someone else (and I have).  It seemed to make sense to offer my support to him on a day that would likely be a difficult one for him.

I knew the papers were filed a few weeks ago.  John emailed me last week, told me the court date was set for this morning.  Would I still be willing to go with him?  Of course.

Sunday night I went to a concert with John and his boys.  He was solemn, but in decent spirits.  When he asked me to go with him out to the lobby, without the boys, he told me she had been seeing more men in the past weeks, had been leaving in the middle of the night and returning in the morning.  John was not angry.  Her unfaithfulness was so clear that he knew that divorce was the right decision.  Even in that unfaithfulness, Sherri was still asking him to take her back.  The last time had been early as that morning. Of course, she had not mentioned she had a date on Sunday evening to watch the Bears game.

I think I was more angry than John that night, even this morning.  He was relieved.  This morning was closure for him.  We talked and prayed together.  I watched him, prayed a lot more, especially when his lawyer showed and took him before the judge. Sherri didn’t show for the court appearance.  She had gotten home at 4 in the morning, didn’t want to get out of bed.  It didn’t matter.  She was not required to be there.

Of course, the judge would not sign the papers.  There was one mistake that had to be corrected.  The judge sent John back home to get Sherri to initial the change.  I felt strange going in the house with him, sat on the couch as he went upstairs to where she was sleeping.  I prayed as their dog barked, that it would keep barking so that I would not hear.  It kept barking.  Sherri provided the signature quickly.  We left and returned to the court.

The tears came as I watched as the judge made the pronouncement. I was surprised at the emotion I was feeling, strong enough that I had to fight back sobs.  I am not sure if John saw.  He is a stoic, so I did not want him to see my tears.  Outside in the hall, the lawyer shook his hand.  It was done.

Our conversations switched to the future — what it would be like with the boys,  the things they had told him about their mother, thoughts on dating.  I had to hide my smile. Dating?

The day today is sunny. Cold.  But sunny.  Beautiful and crisp.  We live amidst forest preserves.

“I’m wearing a suit.  It’s a nice day.  Would you be willing to take a few pictures of me to use in my online DATING PROFILE?

Oh my.  We laughed.. and got some really good pictures for him to use.

Mir responded to my texts, then called me a few minutes later.  And the emotion of the morning took over. My voice began to crack, I couldn’t speak for a few seconds while I struggled to gain my composure.  I could not believe how strong I felt.  I felt the heaviness of the day.  Wow.  It felt strange to be hit so hard by something that had not happened to me.

John and I got to know each other six years ago when I coached his youngest son in baseball.  Our wives got to talking, found out that I ride bicycles and John had raced the Kona Ironman.  He wanted to get back into cycling after a few years of lay off.  I invited John to ride with my buddies.  We found out we share a love for God.  John is now one of the most respected bicycle racers in the area.  We have studied the Bible together, ride together, have gone on countless cycling weekends with our friends.  I can’t help but think that we are in each other’s lives for a reason.

It has felt good to be needed by a friend.  Today was good for John because I was there.  That is all I need.