Yesterday, I sat at the kitchen table with Avy as he ate the dinner I had prepared. Spinach-bean enchiladas with avocado, couscous, salad. It’s been a long time since I did that, but as he still lives here and we were not in one of the uglier weeks of our divorce, it felt, well, ok. We have passed through the stages of anger and bitterness and dukes-up fighting (though crumbs of those emotions still reside inside each of us) and as we near his move-out date and the finalizing of this end to our marriage, I think we are both melancholy. And sad.
Before I decided to end my marriage, I had a dream one night that Avy died. In the dream, I wailed with sadness, comforting my children where there was no comfort and feeling pangs of emptiness in my heart. But when I arrived at the shiva, Avy’s parents didn’t want to let me in. “You were going to divorce him,” they spat at me in the dream. “How could you be sad about his passing?”
I woke up chilled and feeling guilty. One day, I admitted the dream to Avy. We’d talked about divorce time and time again; both of us knew our marriage was rocky at best and probably didn’t have the muscle and fat it needed to last. “I’ve thought about that, too,” he admitted in the quiet of our bedroom.
Neither of us wants an untimely death for the other – God forbid! When I first met with my attorney, I told her this is so hard because I still loved my husband – even if I didn’t want to be married to him anymore. And while I don’t know if I still love him today like I did once, I do care about him deeply. He is the father of my children and the man I spent the last eight years with and the person who was closest to me in a lot of ways.
But I think every divorced person contemplates the possibility of somehow losing the other spouse, how much “easier” it might be than having to make a decision and act it out with all its screaming silences and scary have-to-face-the-world-alone moments.
My best friend Allison went through this – her parents’ horrible divorce followed by, a few years later, her father’s sudden death in his mid-30s. And she told me not too long ago how she was surprised to see her mother’s reaction at the funeral and shiva: unabashed, painful mourning, with hot trails of tears.
We go through stages in life. Some people come into our lives to stay while others have a temporary role to play. But we are a collection of our experiences and the people who have touched us. From that, we can never escape.
I can say in this very public forum that I wish my ex a long, good life of happiness. People don’t believe me when I say I don’t care who he dates or how quickly he remarries. I don’t. I want him to be happy.
That’s what divorce is supposed to lead to – happiness for all involved in some warped, weird sense. If the traditional model doesn’t fit, then shouldn’t there be one that does?