Death or Divorce

I met an acquaintance the other day.  I was  out shopping and met up with a woman I hadn’t seen in about two years.  The last time I had seen her she was going through a very public divorce. Married about 25 years, her husband had strayed and the rift was irreparable.  She was shell-shocked when it happened and closeted herself away.  I remember the whole ugly beginning well.  Then I descended into my own world of hurt and pain where there was no room to think about other people’s problems.

I saw her at the store I was in and stopped her to say hi.  I don’t think she wanted to, something I could sympathise with, but I stopped her anyway.  She had no idea that my husband had died; I had no idea that she was still in her own personal hell.  When we started to talk it was crazy, the words wouldn’t come out fast enough.  She was sorry, I was sorry, we were both sad.

I think though that I may have been in a better place than her.  The man I loved had died, an awful tragic thing, but he died surrounded by love and still giving love.  For her, she loved a man who had rejected her, who had pushed her away and out of his life, and her hurt went so deep.  She’d sustained emotional damage and it had undermined her sense of self-worth and self-value.  She is still at a very low point, feeling inadequate – about what, she has no clue.  She’s been replaced in his life, completely, and the hurt from the realization that all their time together ended up meaning nothing to him has left her devastated.

In my own twisted mind this supports the notion that for my future it’s better to be alone.  The sorrow and grief I felt after Kevin’s death is indescribable.  I have no desire to ever go through it again.  I mentioned this to my friend and she immediately responded to the contrary.  “More than anything,” she said, “more than anything I want to find someone to love me, really care about me, and share my life.”  I must have looked astonished, after all her divorce had been epic, because she carried on, stating that, really, all she wanted to do was just get it right.

Maybe, in my case, I got it right the first time and that’s the difference.  Maybe I will feel differently as time goes on.  Or maybe I won’t.  Maybe I’m crazy or maybe she is.  Who knows?  You make the decisions that are right for you.  At the end of the day, you just have to do what’s right for you.





The Fire

For the first time ever I was at a function where the widows and the divorced/marrieds were present in equal numbers.  In my world the divorcees and the still marrieds are loosely grouped in the same category.  For a divorcee, a relationship may have died and there may be torment, sadness, grief; but at the end of the day it is a thing that has ended, not a life. The same range of emotions may be felt, but ultimately the pain is associated with the loss of something (the state of being wed). So, much like those “marrieds” amongst the group, the divorcees, although now on their own, got to that state through litigation.

For a person who has had a spouse, parent, sibling or child die, the loss is a double whammy.  It is the loss of something – the relationship – and also of someone.  It’s finality – the person who died will never ever grace a room with their presence again.  This is a huge distinction from divorce or separation.  I have had divorced friends empathize with me, and at some point I am likely to hear the words, “I know, it’s awful, I’ve been there.”   No they haven’t.  But I certainly didn’t hear anything banal like that today, I wouldn’t.  I was with a group of women who all “got it.”  For those of us in the group whose husbands had died, there was an unquestioning recognition that aspects of life can be quite arbitrary.  In this little group there was a silent nod of recognition accompanied by the unspoken statement, “ah, so you’ve been through the fires too.”

Through the fires, not me, not yet.  I’m still very much in the midst of it.  There are quite a few firsts that are ahead.  I wonder how hard it will be to look and act normal?  It’s been stated that forcing a smile can actually make you feel better.  So, is it a matter of smiling like an idiot for the next couple of months?  I guess it won’t hurt.  In all likelihood, no one but me will realize how much work it is to get through the day.  And if I am able to get through the day with no one the wiser, then really that’s all that matters.