It has been nearly two weeks since that day, November 15, the day when 25 years was reduced to a document that certifies the last 25 years did not exist. Divorce. I walked away from the courthouse, the feeling of finality a reality to me. My life had changed with the pronouncement of a judge, his approval granting what I had waited the past year for. Out in the hall after the brief, almost too brief, rehearsed to the point of insignificance, hearing, my now ex wife approached me with what seemed like an expression of pity. She had no tears, neither did I, reached for my hand and squeezed it, wished me the best, told me that she is sorry. I mouthed what must have been a very inadequate yes as she walked away. I watched her walk away down the dimly lit, wood paneled hall of the courthouse, strangely thinking of how much her back side had changed since the first time we met. I want to miss that, but I don’t.
I am relieved, glad that at least the drama of the divorce negotiation is over, my life and her life ready to move on in different directions. There is a sense of limbo that exists while waiting for a divorce to happen, a nagging, chains that bind any progress. That time of marriage purgatory needed to exist, I think, as the separation allowed me to process the gravity of the situation and assess just where I was at. I needed to see that somehow God was blessing me still, would allow me to approach him, that I am still acceptable to him. I needed to process my grief, my loneliness, some of which I did not know still existed. I thought that I had already progressed beyond both.
That day, I needed to figure out how I felt. I did not know.
I took the whole day off from work, not knowing what the day would have in store for me. As it turned out, I was numb. I could have functioned and worked that day. I showed up in the office an hour or so after the hearing, answered a quote request, left the office. It was pay day. I went home, paid bills, paid my first maintenance payment, paid another debt that I owed her, marveled that there was still money left over once I was done. My friend, John, who I had supported by going with him to his final divorce hearing five years ago, took me out to dinner that evening. We talked about life, talked about what life is going to be like for me as I moved on, shared encouragement as he assured me that life does indeed move on, that it can indeed be blessed.
It wasn’t a bad day.
My phone rang that afternoon, caller ID showing that it was my son. I fretted. Would he be calling to express his anger over what had just happened?
“Dad, I hit a skunk with my car last night. My car stinks. What do I do?”
Did he even know what had just happened. I dished out my advice. That was it. No mention of the divorce hearing. There has been no mention since.
It was a different story with my daughter. Honestly, I wish I had thought of how she would feel. Selfishly, I thought more about how I was feeling, less about how my children or family would feel. My brothers, my parents, each reached out to me and let me know that I am in their prayers. But my daughter is thousands of miles away, on her own in a foreign country, away from the friends who support her. It was not an easy day for her, as I found out the next morning when she texted me. She had not slept well and she told me so. I asked how she is doing. She asked if it was OK if she tells me how she really feels. Sure, I said, you can tell me anything. And she tried to tell me, but I don’t think that she really knows. She feels like she is in the middle, has felt the impact of living in a dysfunctional family, and she wanted me to know. Then she asked me how I was feeling.
I am at peace, I told her, and I feel like your mother is at peace. Not the best answer, and she told me so, told me that her mother is definitely not at peace. I felt insensitive, but I told her the truth. A good friend told me that my children will have to learn to deal with this. I am going to need to move on and not worry about that so much. They will be OK.
Funny, we moved on from that. We are going to Florida together this January, will be going to Potter World at Universal Studios together. That changed the tone just a little!
Last week was my first major holiday as a divorced man. My son went with me as we travelled a few hours south to visit with my family. For maybe the first time ever, my son was a perfect travelling companion, made me proud in front of my family. It was a great day.
I will share more as things develop. My life changed two weeks ago. It is different.. and there is so much hope. Things are happening, fun and happy things, and I like life as it is right now.
Divorce has happened. Life is different.