Browsed by
Category: The “D” Word

Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

My husband has packed his things and they are taking over the living room, a space that will be entirely mine by the week’s end. He decided he wanted out of our marriage and I decided I wanted him out of the house, a tit for tat, the score is tied, and neither of us will emerge the victor.

It’s not like I didn’t know this was coming. What I didn’t know was how I would feel about it. After spending weeks feeling nothing but anger toward him, I had forgotten that I was capable of feeling anything else. I forgot that this is the man I love. I didn’t know that watching him pack up his belongings would fill me with such an urgent need and desperation for him. And even though neither of us wants this undone, I had no idea I would be fighting the urge to run to him, begging, “Please, let’s stop this. Please, hold me once more, I didn’t know the last time was the last.”

A few days after he said the word “divorce” I dreamed of us together, in a car, driving through an unknown neighborhood. Although it was summer, we kept driving past homes with Christmas decorations, all with Santa’s image removed. We stopped at a garage sale where we purchased our own Christmas tapestry, also missing Santa. We shoved it into a bag, and when we went to pick it up, we realized it was too heavy. We refused help, insistent that we carry it ourselves. We struggled to make it to the car, and once there, we quickly stuffed it into the trunk before firmly slamming it shut.

I wonder now, was I once naïve enough to think marriage would always be like Christmas morning? Did my younger self believe in something that wasn’t actually there? I don’t remember what I thought all of those years ago, but I know I didn’t foresee this ending: our relationship now so small, so devoid of its own magic and wonder, it may as well be on someone’s yard sale table. It has, indeed, become too heavy to carry.

Getting Older

Getting Older

Tomorrow is my birthday. It will be 41 years since I was born, my birth being the one visible sign that my parents, at least at one point, really loved each other. It will be 41 years since my grandmother while away at a Baptist retreat, rushed back to town with equal parts joy and annoyance that I arrived early. It will be 41 years since my dad and grandfather made their peace with each other, my grandfather having to surrender to his immense love for me, whether my mom should have married that black man or not.

It’s incredibly heartwarming for me to think about how my family must have been at the time of my birth. I know how I felt when my own child was born and it amazes me to think that there were people who probably felt the exact same way about me once. I can’t help but feel loved when I think of what that moment must have been like, and it saddens me that none of those people are in my life anymore.

I know it is common for women my age to complain about getting older. (I’ll withhold my comments on patriarchy.) I do not, however, have a problem with aging. OK, so I do have more aches and pains than I used to. If I stay up past midnight I am a complete mess the next day. And the day after that. I don’t think I could lose weight if I was wrapped entirely in Saran Wrap for a week, eating nothing but celery and lemon water, permanently affixed to a treadmill. And even though I tell myself that I am going to accept the gray hairs because I refuse to be vain, I just can’t help but yank them out sometimes. The wonderful thing about aging, though, is that the level of just-don’t-give-a-fuck goes through the roof. (I hesitated to write the word “fuck,” but I felt like doing so illustrates the point beautifully.) I’m not sure why it took 40 years for me to get to this point, but I feel pretty confident in saying there is nothing better than feeling comfortable in my own skin.

I will admit that sometimes I think it’s strange that we celebrate birthdays.  I mean, is there anything more egotistical than throwing a party just to acknowledge the fact that we were born? Do we really need to feel that special? Then again, who doesn’t like a reason to eat cake? I realize, of course, that what birthday celebrations are really about are telling the people we love how grateful we are for their lives. It’s hard to take a curmudgeonly stance with that in mind.

It is true that for every birthday of mine, I feel a little pang of sadness. Birthdays make me miss my family pretty badly, and it’s hard for me to not think about what I have and haven’t done with my life.  This year, with the impending divorce, there is a whole different layer of sadness. I am again having to accept that birthdays are going to be a little different from now on. Tomorrow, though, I will spend the evening with dear friends, eating good food, and hearing live music. Saturday, Simi and her dad are going to attempt to make me a cake. I know there will be phone calls and Facebook messages, and I am going to feel like people are grateful for my life. Really, how could it not be a happy birthday?

Making It Official

Making It Official

In 24 hours I will be sitting in a stranger’s office, making it official. My marriage is ending, and this is how it begins. I guess, to be accurate, it began a long time ago, but I’m not really sure when because I didn’t exactly know this was coming. But it is here now, make no mistake about it.

I’ve been through the whirlwind of emotions; through all of the what-if’s. I’ve been replaying everything in my mind, trying to see if I can pinpoint the exact moment when my marriage ceased to exist. I’ve even tinkered with the idea that maybe, just maybe, this isn’t a completely bad thing.

I want to say that I’m OK with this. I want to say that I have wholly accepted it and have made my peace with it. I want to say with certainty that my daughter will be fine. I want to say that it doesn’t bother me at all that some people will see me with my kid, see the color of my skin, see the absence of a wedding ring, and then think whatever horrible thing it is that they think about single, black mothers. Who knew I would long for the days of being mistaken for the help?

It’s not that I haven’t experienced loss in my life. I’ve had so much of it, I consider myself somewhat of an expert. It’s just that it’s always so damn hard, no matter what I may know about it. Yes, I know I will make it through. I am strong (so everyone keeps telling me) and this won’t wreck me. But that doesn’t mean I want to face it, and it sure doesn’t make it any easier.

I recognize that as far as these things go, I’m not in bad shape. I didn’t marry an asshole, and my daughter will still have an incredible man for a father. I am surrounded by so much love and support, that it is truly overwhelming. These are the things that I try to remember. For the amount of love that I have had to say goodbye to in this life, I feel like I have gotten back double that amount in friends. And not to brag, but I have incredible people for friends, the kind that will make sure, unequivocally, that I am taken care of. I am humbled and grateful, and it is their love for me that will make this path a little less treacherous.

(OK, I admit it, I have wine and ice cream too. A girl needs reinforcements.)