Last week, I started a post series on the topic of Divorce. One aspect of the discussion will be a letter I have written to a kid dealing with divorce (shared over the course of several weeks). Another aspect I am introducing today. Weekly, along with the letter, I will be sharing some narratives I've written on specific memories I experienced over the course of my parents divorce. I hope it encourages you to tell your stories, to partake in discussion, to be apart of the conversation. In case you missed them, you can go back and read the Intro post and Letter to a Divorced Kid, Part I.
Thanks for being apart of the journey.
One word. It took only one word for my world to start to crumble.
She gave me an unexpected answer. The day, imprinted perfectly in my mind, was New Year’s Eve and I was dress shopping with my mom. The Winter Formal was only a few weeks away, and it would be my first official high school dance. I had missed the Homecoming Dance, due to a prior family engagement, and regretted it terribly. There were so many stories of what I had missed: boys I could have danced with, songs I could have swayed to, laughs I could have exchanged, the dress I could have worn. I didn’t know I would miss so much more, only months later.
Mom put the car in park, and absently opened the door with her left hand. Her face, vacant. Her hair, unwashed. But she had insisted we go out and find a dress. And after a week of barely hearing her talk, holed up in her bedroom, I obliged.
I struggled to concentrate on the myriad colors and cloth on the racks in front of me. I couldn’t stop stealing glances of Mom, who wandered aimlessly around the store. Every once in a while, her arm would slowly raise to touch a dress, feeling the soft fabric between her fingers. I began to worry that maybe something was really wrong. Was she sick? I wondered. Did something terrible happen that I know nothing about?
I found a dress that met the stringent qualifications to make an appearance at a high school dance, so we paid and walked back out to the car. I let my mind wander as the ignition growled and the car jumped to life. There was an uneasy feeling building in my stomach, a question I wanted to ask, but I couldn’t bring myself to give it voice.
Sometimes we ask questions because we know the answer. Because we need the answers to be true. To never change. These answers are the constants in a life of variables. We have an arsenal of these questions. We hold them dear because they give us comfort, give us life. Because we know the answers, and as long as our answers remain constant, our universe stays in place. We are safe.
Attempts at small talk were futile at best. I wanted to dig into whatever problem I was sensing. Are you ok, Mom? She answered with a shrug. Do you want to talk about it? She shook her head. Following the lead of my gut, I asked, Does it have to do with Dad? Eyes glistening, she gave me a small nod.
Asking the question was inevitable. I mentally unearthed it from my bag of Constants. The anxiety was building and I needed to find comfort, fast. I needed to ask so that my axis did not tilt and my world did not shift. I needed things to be ok. So I drew in a breath and asked.
Are you getting a divorce?
Sometimes we ask questions because we know the answer. To find comfort. To be assured that the constants in our life were still constant. That things are under control. That we are ok.
It started with a small piece here, followed by a larger piece there. Slowly, my world began to crumble, right there in the car, all around me. With one word, the biggest constant in my life became a variable. With one word, my axis tilted, and my world began to fall apart.
Would I be ok? Would we be ok?
The only answer I could come up with:
Read the next chapter in Divorce Memoirs: I Knew.
I hope you'll share a comment with your thoughts, questions and stories.