“I’m so busy talking, I haven’t said grace.” Lydia put her fork down and pressed her palms together. From hidden speakers emanated an upbeat Latin tune. Before us sat chicken enchiladas in the most authentic fashion.
Her prayer went something like this: Lord, thank you for the gift of this food, this friendship, for bringing me and Lynne together, thank you for seeing us through our days and guiding our decisions. We trust in you.
I uttered Amen before picking up my fork, and meant it.
I used to mutter Hebrew blessings before I took a bite and after I finished. I used to whip off the Hebrew blessing after using the toilet and recite Sh’ma as I fell asleep. I ritually washed my hands in the morning and uttered another prayer, thanking God for giving me a new day of living.
I haven’t said any of those in the longest time.
Not because I don’t believe in being thankful or in the power of acknowledging a higher power. Mostly because I spent so long feeling penned in by religion that I just needed to breathe.
How unlikely to find spiritual inspiration from a business mentor. Lydia is a beacon. Beautiful, dynamic, running a huge company in southwest Detroit, Hacienda Mexican Foods, spearheading political awareness and giving a voice to thousands of Hispanic Detroiters. All in the wake of her husband’s death two years ago to hepatitis C, leaving her alone at the helm of his family company and of their family (two boys).
“All we have is this moment,” Lydia said. “I told my boys that before school today. We have to be grateful for every single day.”
I was so glad to have my children back yesterday afternoon. They’d only been gone to their father for 24 hours, and normally I cherish that time for myself – to work, exercise, catch up with friends and sleep, and just reconnect with myself.
But Tuesday night, I woke in a sweat, heart pounding, from a nightmare. In the dream, my ex-husband sped away from his house while our three children slept inside it. I ran in to protect them only to find two men lurking in the shadows of the dark.
There’s nothing quite like waking from a bad dream. We all know there is no greater fear in the dark than in the light, but somehow the middle of the night quiet and aloneness seems far more terrifying than in bright day.
Most of the time since I divorced my husband, I am fine. I love being alone, I feel empowered for ending a troubling relationship and I don’t really think about nor desire a new mate.
Tuesday night was quite the opposite. I awoke to a pounding heart, short of breath, and I didn’t want to be alone.
Ever since I got divorced, people tell me their stories of unhappiness in marriage. It’s as if my happily divorced status inspires others to confide in me about their core displeasure. I am happy to listen, to offer solace, to commiserate, for I know how hard it is to endure the challenges life throws your way after the bubble of the wedding and honeymoon bursts.
But I have no answers. I’ve never had a successful romantic relationship! I know a handful of happy couples who have weathered challenges; the key to their success is a cocktail of dance steps and held tongues, almost always punctuated by absolute independence and confidence of both partners.
Last night, the kids and I had dinner at my friend Lisa’s house. Another divorced mom and her kids joined us. These women are two of my favorite friends for so many reasons.
Around 6 o’clock, Lisa’s husband Jim walked in the door. He smiled, kissed her hello and poured a glass of wine to join us. When Lisa asked Jim to put steak kabobs on the grill, even though he was set to leave for a party of his own, he smiled and complied.
They’ve been together since college. They love each other fully. And they live their own lives, together.
As I drove home with three tired kids, sweaty from jumping on the trampoline and playing with trains, the sun set behind us, an orange glow. I bathed everyone quickly, then zipped Shaya into blue footy pajamas for the first time this season.
At 8, Asher, Eliana and I piled into my bed and lowered the bamboo shades. They laughed at the silly absurdities of SpongeBob Squarepants, each one nestled against my arms. They fell asleep as the dark reached its fingers into my room.
I lay awake between two of my children, their even breathing like calm waters under the hull of a boat.