So this is it, I sit nervously speaking directly into the small microphone on the desk in front me, to the judge poised above me and behind his big oak dais. To my left is my attorney, she is older, appears frail to a point with short, dark crimson hair but doesn’t hesitate to speak up. To her left, my soon to be ex-wife, she is dressed for success in a sleeveless blouse and nice pants. She has a look that seems to say she is somewhere far away. She never looks at me, even when we met in the hallway before hand, when she spoke to me she looked out the fourth floor window or at the floor. Now we all face the judge, it’s a very quiet room and we wait as he flips through the divorce decree page by page. He takes a sip of water from a clear glass and the folds his hands together and leans forward, in a deep and pudgy voice he says “You two have been very respectful and mature during this process, I don’t often deal with a couple like you whom manage to get through this with sensibility.” I respect that about you two and applaud you for it.
I don’t know how to feel just then, I am proud of us, my ex-wife and me. I am beginning to falter also, I look over at Angie and I see that her eyes are full of clouds; she uses the middle part of her index finger to check her eyes in an attempt at keeping the tears at bay. This has been a long process and I have been impatient at times but mostly I have felt great sadness as I do now. I feel a sense of loss for something that has lasted twenty two years. When she and I met she was 16 and I was 20, we married in 1992 and moved far away from her parents. We have had four children, the first one is Aspergers, extremely high functioning; she is 21 and is in college studying to be a prosthetics engineer, the other ones are also all very educated and intelligent, kind and wonderful. We must have done something right, together. I think for many years our marriage was amazing, and I think for years we struggled, especially after my tours in the military overseas in South West Asia, and we both grew apart emotionally, trying to nurture and develop our own selves through-out strain and emotional neglect.
It’s at those times that a person must reach inside and rely on their skills at surviving and adapting, and neither of us ever had those lessons as we grew up kids in the homes in which we lived. For very different reasons, both homes were very dysfunctional and I am afraid we both learned inappropriate ways of dealing with emotional struggles. That didn’t serve us well later on in our lives, in our marriage. Eventually we looked for different things to make us happy and help us go on. We concentrated on the children, they were always our main focus, albeit with different ideas and styles but still it was about the kids.
Two people can only go on so long in that way, they become less of a couple and more of a team, and when that team begins to fade and fall apart, so too does the communication and support and success of that team. And that becomes obvious to the children and that becomes hurtful and neglectful to them as well. We practiced good front stage behavior for a while, but more and more time was spent in separate dressing rooms off stage. We tried counseling and tried a few different avenues and means of treatment both as a couple and as individuals.
Finally, in the end all we had left of each other in our hearts were echoes of past times when things were good, but even those have been muddied, covered over with a thin but rank layer of regret, anger, disappointment and misery. I still love her and I always will, I think she is responsible for saving me more than a few times, I am broken and always was and from the start she knew it but saw something then that she wanted, that had value, that she was attracted to. I guess that only lasts so long until its only shadows in the fog, drifting in and out around us until we don’t even recognize it any longer and then it melts into history.
So this is it, as the judge signs off on the twentieth page of a document that legally terminates our marriage I am conflicted, feel torn apart and opened up like a gutted fish. As we walk out the front door of the Family Justice Center in the middle of downtown, surrounded by cranes and jackhammers, cars and busses and trucks, I watch as she quickly, steadily and forever walks away from me, never looking back. Lost in the crowded streets, a friend, a wife, and a consort. I have lost someone I have loved for more than twenty two years. Regardless of the circumstances, the hurt, the deception, the anger, the heart still bleeds; even whilst it runs dry it will desperately continue to beat until there is nothing left to beat for. Then standing there, empty and alone, looking for a spark, for shelter from the approaching cold and waits.