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December 12, 2006:

My uncle and my brother both marked the time, the exact time – somewhere around 3:43 am.

We sat for a while with her, there in the darkness, holding her hands, holding her heart.  I could still feel her.  Still feel her.  Someone turned on the lights, blew out the candle, started doing the practical things.  Calling the mortuary people, calling my “Aunt” who had been my Mother’s oldest friend – the one who had  aided in my parent’s elopement, had driven her to the hospital to give birth to me, who now lived just upstairs.

It felt wrong to have all this stuff going on.  I stayed in the room with her, pulling up her covers so she might not get cold, trying to fully close her eyes.  They wouldn’t stay closed.  I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror and saw her looking back at me through my eyes.  I saw her eyes in the mirror, in my face.  I called my husband and told him, had him tell Kelsea.  She wrote the date and time down on a napkin and put it in a special scrapbook that she has.

My aunt came.  She put her arm around me, and I said, “I don’t want her to go.”  And she said to me, “She’s already gone.”  I did not know what I was going to do.  I loved her so.  We were such a part of each other.  I just did not know what to do.  As the minutes passed , her body looked less and less…occupied.  I could feel it, feel her soul moving away, as the minutes passed, drifting away, flying away, floating away, soaring away, farther and farther away, without even turning to say good-bye, just excited to be free and exploring.  Leaving me behind.

Things happened then.  My brother put ice around the back of her head to keep her brain cool for the Brain Autopsy Study she was a part of.   I knew it was still nighttime, the middle of the night, but time had become irrelevant.  I just remember again the light, the brightness of incandescent bulbs all over.  The night nurse had slipped out.  She had been hiding in the other bathroom for hours.  She never even came in the room.  She was afraid of dead people.  Everything just felt so surreal.

The funeral home men came, two of them, with a stretcher and a big plastic bag.  Somehow, though she wasn’t a big woman, they just couldn’t seem to manage her.  I don’t know why.  But I wound up helping to put my Mother’s body in that bag.  Wrapped in one of my sheets, one of my favorite sheets, that looked like a sandy beach with seashells on it, that we had put on her bed particularly because she loved those sheets too.  I could never have that sheet back.  That action was the worst part of this whole memory.  I should never have done that.

Then everyone left.  It was morning.  I called my best friend at work.  I started making calls to the people who needed to know.  It was horrible.   I heard her dear friend, whose wife I spoke to, explode with grief – “Oh, GOD!”, he said.  I let her go to him.  I lay down to try to sleep and I just cried.  Cried and cried and cried as if my heart would break.  But it was too late, it was already broken.

I thought about the morphine in the refrigerator.  I could do it.  Could do it so easily.  Just take the rest of it and follow her.  I wasn’t thinking about Kelsea.  I wasn’t thinking.  I was so consumed with pain, I didn’t feel like I could live.  I didn’t want to live.  I was tired and tormented.  I was mad with grief and exhaustion.  I wept myself to sleep.

Later, I told E-Bro about it, and he said he would kick my corpse if I did such a thing.  We started to pack up her things.  We went out to dinner.  We didn’t feel normal.  We were orphans now.  At least we had each other.

Now, four years later, I have come to have some peace with her death, but it has taken almost this entire span of time.  But it has happened.  I still miss her.  I know she’s still with me in her own way.

And I know, with all certainty, that she is having a marvelous time.

December 12, 2006:

My uncle and my brother both marked the time, the exact time – somewhere around 3:43 am.

We sat for a while with her, there in the darkness, holding her hands, holding her heart.  I could still feel her.  Still feel her.  Someone turned on the lights, blew out the candle, started doing the practical things.  Calling the mortuary people, calling my “Aunt” who had been my Mother’s oldest friend – the one who had  aided in my parent’s elopement, had driven her to the hospital to give birth to me, who now lived just upstairs.

It felt wrong to have all this stuff going on.  I stayed in the room with her, pulling up her covers so she might not get cold, trying to fully close her eyes.  They wouldn’t stay closed.  I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror and saw her looking back at me through my eyes.  I saw her eyes in the mirror, in my face.  I called my husband and told him, had him tell Kelsea.  She wrote the date and time down on a napkin and put it in a special scrapbook that she has.

My aunt came.  She put her arm around me, and I said, “I don’t want her to go.”  And she said to me, “She’s already gone.”  I did not know what I was going to do.  I loved her so.  We were such a part of each other.  I just did not know what to do.  As the minutes passed , her body looked less and less…occupied.  I could feel it, feel her soul moving away, as the minutes passed, drifting away, flying away, floating away, soaring away, farther and farther away, without even turning to say good-bye, just excited to be free and exploring.  Leaving me behind.

Things happened then.  My brother put ice around the back of her head to keep her brain cool for the Brain Autopsy Study she was a part of.   I knew it was still nighttime, the middle of the night, but time had become irrelevant.  I just remember again the light, the brightness of incandescent bulbs all over.  The night nurse had slipped out.  She had been hiding in the other bathroom for hours.  She never even came in the room.  She was afraid of dead people.  Everything just felt so surreal.

The funeral home men came, two of them, with a stretcher and a big plastic bag.  Somehow, though she wasn’t a big woman, they just couldn’t seem to manage her.  I don’t know why.  But I wound up helping to put my Mother’s body in that bag.  Wrapped in one of my sheets, one of my favorite sheets, that looked like a sandy beach with seashells on it, that we had put on her bed particularly because she loved those sheets too.  I could never have that sheet back.  That action was the worst part of this whole memory.  I should never have done that.

Then everyone left.  It was morning.  I called my best friend at work.  I started making calls to the people who needed to know.  It was horrible.   I heard her dear friend, whose wife I spoke to, explode with grief – “Oh, GOD!”, he said.  I let her go to him.  I lay down to try to sleep and I just cried.  Cried and cried and cried as if my heart would break.  But it was too late, it was already broken.

I thought about the morphine in the refrigerator.  I could do it.  Could do it so easily.  Just take the rest of it and follow her.  I wasn’t thinking about Kelsea.  I wasn’t thinking.  I was so consumed with pain, I didn’t feel like I could live.  I didn’t want to live.  I was tired and tormented.  I was mad with grief and exhaustion.  I wept myself to sleep.

Later, I told E-Bro about it, and he said he would kick my corpse if I did such a thing.  We started to pack up her things.  We went out to dinner.  We didn’t feel normal.  We were orphans now.  At least we had each other.

Now, four years later, I have come to have some peace with her death, but it has taken almost this entire span of time.  But it has happened.  I still miss her.  I know she’s still with me in her own way.

And I know, with all certainty, that she is having a marvelous time.

Do you believe in soulmates?

I did.  I don’t know if I still do or not. 

My dear friend sent me this quote:

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.

A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…”

It’s from Eat, Pray, Love – a book my former flame bought for me and encouraged me to read.  I started it on a plane with him, but felt it wasn’t the right time for me to read it.  It’s still on my shelf.  My friend who sent me the quote and I laughed about this because she’s done the same thing.  Neither of us like hopping on bandwagons when they’re at their most popular. 

I did feel like I had found my soulmate.  As I’m emerging from the exquisitely painful and pleasurable ether of that lost relationship,  trying to come to terms with loss, and trying to make a fresh start, I am thinking a lot about that feeling.

I was a dream.  I was a breaking away.  I was a fantasy come to life.  I opened doors and souls and possibilities that had only lived in dreams before.  I was ready to be a partner.

And BAM.

I didn’t fit into the real world, the world as it stood.  I had to be hidden.  I was a living symbol of a loss of honor and an established way of life.  I was a reminder of shame and devastation and confusion – instead of what I truly was – a breath of change, an awkward angel, a chance to pursue something brave and beautiful and risky and scary in the company of an equal partner. Great change requires a journey of the soul, and it is not always fun, easy or comfortable.  But in the end, it is always rewarding.

Enough people in the old life thought of me as a bad, evil person – and these are people who had never even met me.  I guess if you hear that message enough, and if your fear is great enough, you come to believe it.  You no longer see with your own eyes, and no longer feel with your own heart (thanks, Einstein).  Sticking up for me was not an option.  And so you take the easy, safe route.  You take the interstate instead of the road less travelled.  Because you cannot bear to dive into the reflection of your own soul that a soulmate offers you.  Yes, there are things you did not expect to see there, and things that are hard to deal with, but being human and growing means that you do deal with those things, do accept your own faults and the faults of others, let go so you can open up to your own inner and outer worlds when you have the chance before you.  And do it with your truest friend and staunchest supporter by your side.

You no longer believe in yourself or in the potential that life offered you.  Instead of leaping, you retreated back to a safe distance from the edge, now never to experience that joyous, floating, drifting, falling, hand in hand with someone with whom you could explore the world and yourself, someone open, someone who, when you hit that net together, would be laughing with you from the deepest recesses of your shared spirits.

That’s what you chose.

And that’s why I’m not sure I believe in soulmates any longer.

But then again —  it’s all a leap of faith.

Today’s guest poet – W.H. Auden.  (I believe I include this poem in an entry last year as a tribute to the poet on his birthday, but it is one of my favorites, sad as it is, and deserves another look.  I watched “Four Weddings and A Funeral” the other night, and the reading of this piece in that movie was amazingly moving. )

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

December 12, 2006:

My uncle and my brother both marked the time, the exact time – somewhere around 3:43 am.

We sat for a while with her, there in the darkness, holding her hands, holding her heart.  I could still feel her.  Still feel her.  Someone turned on the lights, blew out the candle, started doing the practical things.  Calling the mortuary people, calling my “Aunt” who had been my Mother’s oldest friend – the one who had  aided in my parent’s elopement, had driven her to the hospital to give birth to me, who now lived just upstairs.

It felt wrong to have all this stuff going on.  I stayed in the room with her, pulling up her covers so she might not get cold, trying to fully close her eyes.  They wouldn’t stay closed.  I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror and saw her looking back at me through my eyes.  I saw her eyes in the mirror, in my face.  I called my husband and told him, had him tell Kelsea.  She wrote the date and time down on a napkin and put it in a special scrapbook that she has.

My aunt came.  She put her arm around me, and I said, “I don’t want her to go.”  And she said to me, “She’s already gone.”  I did not know what I was going to do.  I loved her so.  We were such a part of each other.  I just did not know what to do.  As the minutes passed , her body looked less and less…occupied.  I could feel it, feel her soul moving away, as the minutes passed, drifting away, flying away, floating away, soaring away, farther and farther away, without even turning to say good-bye, just excited to be free and exploring.  Leaving me behind.

Things happened then.  My brother put ice around the back of her head to keep her brain cool for the Brain Autopsy Study she was a part of.   I knew it was still nighttime, the middle of the night, but time had become irrelevant.  I just remember again the light, the brightness of incandescent bulbs all over.  The night nurse had slipped out.  She had been hiding in the other bathroom for hours.  She never even came in the room.  She was afraid of dead people.  Everything just felt so surreal.

The funeral home men came, two of them, with a stretcher and a big plastic bag.  Somehow, though she wasn’t a big woman, they just couldn’t seem to manage her.  I don’t know why.  But I wound up helping to put my Mother’s body in that bag.  Wrapped in one of my sheets, one of my favorite sheets, that looked like a sandy beach with seashells on it, that we had put on her bed particularly because she loved those sheets too.  I could never have that sheet back.  That action was the worst part of this whole memory.  I should never have done that.

Then everyone left.  It was morning.  I called my best friend at work.  I started making calls to the people who needed to know.  It was horrible.   I heard her dear friend, whose wife I spoke to, explode with grief – “Oh, GOD!”, he said.  I let her go to him.  I lay down to try to sleep and I just cried.  Cried and cried and cried as if my heart would break.  But it was too late, it was already broken.

I thought about the morphine in the refrigerator.  I could do it.  Could do it so easily.  Just take the rest of it and follow her.  I wasn’t thinking about Kelsea.  I wasn’t thinking.  I was so consumed with pain, I didn’t feel like I could live.  I didn’t want to live.  I was tired and tormented.  I was mad with grief and exhaustion.  I wept myself to sleep.

Later, I told E-Bro about it, and he said he would kick my corpse if I did such a thing.  We started to pack up her things.  We went out to dinner.  We didn’t feel normal.  We were orphans now.  At least we had each other.

Now, four years later, I have come to have some peace with her death, but it has taken almost this entire span of time.  But it has happened.  I still miss her.  I know she’s still with me in her own way. 

And I know, with all certainty, that she is having a marvelous time.

When is it officially the first divorced Christmas? 

I had moved out by this time last year, so was it last year?  I am not yet divorced this year, but will be within two weeks, so is it this year?  Or will it be next year, when I’ll be a bona fide divorcee?

Last year, Christmas was hard.  This year, Christmas is harder.  Next year, will Christmas be harder still?

God, I hope not.

We always had such big Christmases.  Presents everywhere!  I shopped throughout the year, but still overspent.  It’s not like that this year.  There will be few presents under either tree.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  Kelsea doesn’t seem to want much, and this is a year for her to learn that holidays are more about togetherness than about presents.  Perhaps it’s a lesson she will hold onto going forward.

But the holidays ARE about togetherness.  This year, I’m stitching things together – Christmas Eve with Mr. GF, Christmas morning at Pat’s house with Kelsea and Pat’s family, Christmas night with Kelsea and Mr. GF.  It feels disjointed somehow – maybe because it is.  I am just trying to make things as comfortable for my daughter as they can be.  Pat’s family still loves me and considers me part of their family, but it’s not like I can introduce Mr. GF into the mix.  Nope.  Too bizarre to celebrate with my ex-husband and his family and my new companion.  That wouldn’t be good for anybody, especially not me and Mr. GF, who are just starting out together.

When worlds collide, right?

Well, as it stands, my worlds are very separate, orbiting around one another in a weird cosmic dance.

So I feel very alone this Christmas.  As some comments on another blog noted, this is an awful time, this time of loss from divorce, but it WILL get better.

Won’t it?

Today’s guest poet — our favorite, Pablo Neruda
 

 

The Song of Despair

The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.

In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.

You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.

Pilot’s dread, fury of blind driver,
turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!

In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.
Lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,
sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!

I made the wall of shadow draw back,
beyond desire and act, I walked on.

Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost,
I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.

Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness.
and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.

There was the black solitude of the islands,
and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.

There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.

Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me
in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms!

How terrible and brief my desire was to you!
How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.

Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs,
still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.

Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs,
oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.

Oh the mad coupling of hope and force
in which we merged and despaired.

And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.
And the word scarcely begun on the lips.

This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my longing,
and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank!

Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you,
what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned!

From billow to billow you still called and sang.
Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.

You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents.
Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.

Pale blind diver, luckless slinger,
lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour
which the night fastens to all the timetables.

The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.

Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.

It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!

Well, it’s done.

I thought I was supposed to feel better?  I don’t.  I’m back to numb, lost, confused.  I don’t like the idea of being single.  I know Pat doesn’t either.  Even though he didn’t really take care of me, it was nice to know there was someone who could take care of me when I’m sick or sad.  And now there isn’t. 

Will I die alone?

Yesterday was nothing short of poignant.  We met at the bank and had our papers notarized by one of the employees who has known us for 20 years.  I was good and didn’t cry – came close once.  Pat was nice.

Then we went and had lunch at Whole Foods, laughed, talked, just like an ordinary lunch.  Bought Kelsea a double cupcake.  We were kind to each other.

We drove together to the courthouse.  We sat together at the table before the nice judge.  All of our papers were done, so we had our “hearing”.  We both felt the irony of having to say “I do” upon being sworn in.  We consulted each other on things like dates for finalizing things.  I went through a lot of Kleenex.  He rubbed my back.  I put my head on his shoulder.  Like two people who love each other.  But still, two people who can’t live together, can’t make their marriage work. 

I could barely gasp out “yes” though my tears when the judge asked me if this marriage was irretrievably broken.  I found myself wishing he hadn’t said yes.  But the answer was reality, and the answer was yes.

Irretrievably broken.

What horrible, final words.

We hugged each other afterwards, joked about things.  I am hoping that we will continue to be kind to each other, and that we will find we like each other better now that we are not married, will make more of an effort to get along and treat each other with respect, will be friends.

The decree won’t be issued until January 4th, so we will continue the financial stuff as is until then.  But after that will be the test of his mettle, to see if he really can make his own way without going back on any of the terms we’ve agreed upon.

And so, that’s it.  Except for the emotions, which will continue to ebb and flow for the foreseeable future.  So, the Divorce Diaries will continue.

—————————————————————————————————————————

I want to pay tribute to a sweet friend who passed away on October 22.  Trixie probably had one of the best lives ever.

You know, I really thought I was okay.  I finished up all the paperwork this morning.  It is sitting in its orange folder, waiting to go to the notary and the judge, just a couple of points outstanding that we need to discuss.  Amazing how an entire relationship of 25 years, one-quarter of a century, now comes down to a slim sheaf of papers in an orange folder.

And what do we have to show for it?  A beautiful daughter.  A falling-down house.  A lot of happy times.  And a lot of tears and memories of anger and despair.  Not much in the way of possessions or savings.  Certainly nothing that reflects how hard I’ve worked.

I was unemotional filling out the papers.  Just business. Calculations.  Trying to be fair. (I am hoping he will be fair as well, but I have hoped that for our whole life together, so I don’t think I can rely on it.)  But when I was done, I called my brother.  All the family I have left.   He’s been trying to reach me for some weeks now, and I have been remiss in returning  his calls. He’s been through this twice himself, so he understands that there are emotions around it, and he understands me.  I guess I wanted him to tell me how I should feel, since I was feeling odd — numb, practical, abnormal.  He being a boy, his emotions around his divorces were not as much sad, as they were peeved (what a great word) and relieved.  As we were talking, I just started to cry.  And now I am having waves of tears.  It was good to talk with him.  I could feel his support over the thousand miles that separate us.

Last night, a friend pinpointed this whole experience as “the death of a dream”.  That is exactly it.  I never had big dreams for my marriage.  No big house, no opulence.  I had dreams of companionship, partnership, laughter,  Joy.  Contentment.  With this person I loved, with whom I chose (for whatever reason) to spend my life.  Dreams of the rest of my life.  Yes, I wanted to travel.  But I also wanted a beautiful garden, dogs, cats.  A home.  Love.

Divorce is admitting that those things, in this relationship that you’ve tried so hard to tend well for so long, are just not possible.  And giving up the dream.

The garden is the perfect metaphor for our marriage.  We had a beautiful garden for a number of years.  It was always a work in progress.  But we both enjoyed working it and we spent a lot of time in it.  Days in the sun, evenings playing with Kelsea, having dinner, watching the bats swoop low above our heads.  Then, somehow, Pat kept building things for me to tend, and I kept running out of time to tend them.  He would do the building, but not help with maintaining things – or if he helped, he would berate me for not making more time to do the tending.  I was working too much, just trying to keep up with the economy.  It started to feel like a battle of wills, and something (just one more thing) I felt guilty about not doing, and then guilty about not wanting to do, because it was too much to maintain on my own, because I didn’t feel like I had a partner, because it was expensive, because things didn’t grow as planned and I was disappointed, because he was disappointed that it didn’t look like the gardens in the magazines.  So much disappointment.

Now, what used to be our garden is in complete disrepair.  Weeds taller than my head.  Beds dug up by the dogs.  Broken fences.  Fences that cannot be mended.

Pat has no motivation to care for it.  “I made it all for you,” he says, “It doesn’t matter to me anymore.”  I hope that, since he’s living there, and he used to enjoy it so, sitting out in the dark with a glass of whiskey and being pleased with the property, that he’ll find it in himself to take pride in it once again.  To try.  But I’ve been hoping that for him for years.  Maybe he will be better off without me.

I found my wedding ring this morning – I know, it sounds like I’m torturing myself, but it’s another metaphor.  You see, it’s a beautiful ring.  We designed it ourselves.  It swirls and curves and has diamonds.  And it doesn’t fit me any more.  I guess I am not the same person I was when he slipped it on my finger 19 years ago.

I guess that’s why I am where I am today, alone, in a bed surrounded by sodden tissues and divorce papers.  And not where I used to be.

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