I'm most recently a writer. In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot. As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades. An unwilling transplant from the South, twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US. Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect. When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do. Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Their early days together were about sock-hops and junior proms, back seats and drive-in movies. Later, things got tougher. They clung to each other through accidents and loss, weathered family arguments and watched friends suffer. They believed those times made them stronger, preparing them for the future they planned to share.
That future came too soon. They married young, ahead of his call to service. He never left the U.S., but he came home someone she couldn't quite recognize. The obvious solution to the distance between them was to have a child. When one didn't resolve things, they had a second.
Their final years were overwhelmed by ugly family issues, illness, debt and substance abuse. They said they still loved each other. There was never any talk of ending things. But eventually lies and confusion took their toll.
When he left without warning, she fell apart. Their divorce was long and nasty, followed by years of fighting over what each believed was best for the children. Any semblance of love and respect vanished as each moved on to new relationships.
End of story? I thought so. As I'm sure you've guessed, it's my story. Imagine my surprise to learn there's a prologue. He's dying, and I have no idea how to deal with it. I never anticipated the unresolved heartache, or the tears I thought long since cried out.
I decided years ago that divorce is the most unnatural of modern institutions. The person who one day is your lover, your best friend, your partner in life, becomes in the next your sworn opponent in the dissolution of everything you built together. The babies you created in passionate intimacy become trophies in a contest overseen by unfeeling strangers. Whatever you felt for each other is now taboo, any mention forbidden lest it erode your arguments in court.
When you fall in love again, you tell yourself that first time wasn't the real thing. He was different then, you were different then, times were different then. Whatever it takes to maintain the denial.
The fact is, we loved. We laughed, we cried, we celebrated and we mourned. We grew up together, and grew apart, divided by forces beyond our control. But we loved, and in the end I think my heart refuses to go on denying that. I need to grieve, not so much for the man whose life is ending now, but for the things we shared, all too briefly, at the beginning. I need to mourn the sweet, funny boy who made me laugh when I was far too serious, the power of a first kiss and the innocence of discovery.
Life is filled with unexpected, uncontrollable and at times unwelcome emotions we'd prefer to keep hidden. There is apparently no term limit on such feelings. Decades after convincing myself that boy was only a vague memory unworthy of my time, I'm forced to admit I will miss him.