December 22, 1995.

I received my divorce papers in the mail. I careful read the words, confirming the information stated, folded the paper back and called to let him know.

Our first double date was to a Carrot Top concert. He asked to hold my hand across the street. He kissed my cheek on the front porch. Our first date was to putt putt. We sat in his car and talked for hours. We clung to each other like we were the other person’s life jacket.

Walking down the aisle I couldn’t imagine ever loving someone more than I loved him in that moment. Thankfully I was wrong.

I threw my thigh over his hip to ease the soreness from my ever-expanding pregnant body. He remained perfectly still nearly every night of all three of my pregnancies, while I slept. Our daughters gently kicking him in the back before they were born.

As soon as our first daughter was born I began to hemorrhage and her collar bone was broken. He stood in the middle of the room, paralyzed. I told him to go with her. With one last look he took off after her. I knew right then I’d chosen an amazing father for our children. He will without hesitation choose his children over every other human on the planet, including himself.

He went to visit his ill mother while I stayed home with our youngest newborn. When he arrived back home, his mother and her suitcases were beside him. With one look passing between us, our life changed.

He laid on the couch while the girls decorated him with Barbie Band-Aids and I made him a cup of coffee. He was busy building a computer or playing a game and he automatically reached to touch me even though we hadn’t said anything, his hand on me was just a comfort to us both.
He stirred spaghetti sauce and kissed me on the neck. He doctored cheese grits and showed the girls how to play video games. We argued about housework, depression, cutting the grass, and bills. I scratched his back in bed, night after night, to calm myself before falling asleep. He didn’t tell me for years that it agitated him, and by the time he told me, it was a habit. He would say into the darkness “You can scratch my back if you want to…” He would eat pizza and automatically hand me the crust. He is ambidextrous but prefers to eat with his left hand. When I would sit next to him while we were eating, he’d quietly switch his fork to the other hand and open his arm so I could sit as close as possible. He would call me doll or baby or Trina. He would painstakingly explain exactly why a football/video game thing happened even though we both knew I didn’t care, just so we could have a conversation. He never laughed at me or made fun of me. A thousand other memories… His laugh, his hand in mine, his fierce protection of his girls….

He fought his own demons and a great many of mine for me. I remember one of the very first arguments we ever had. He talked me down until I just started to apologise. Suddenly he stopped and stared at me. Then he took a breath and said “No no, don’t let me do this. Tell me I’m wrong, bring up these points…..” And he coached me through our argument. Another first argument I called him a bad word. He calmly stated that we do not call each other names. He explained that even in anger there was still respect.

After a shared intimacy, he laid his head on my belly. My stretch marks were new, angry and purple. He traced one with his fingers and told me he really liked them. They reminded him of how much I love our girls.

He taught me how to think for myself and form my own opinions. Eventually we started to drift apart. We started to form completely separate lives. Ultimately we could not overcome the drift. Nothing horrible happened. No one hit the other person, no one cheated. There was no event. It just happened. Like the wind that suddenly stirs your hair or the first drops of rain on a sizzling pavement.

He moved his things out of our home quietly a little at a time, when I was at work, so it wouldn’t hurt as much. He considered my feelings even when he didn’t have to. I went over to see his new apartment and cried on his couch. He wrapped me up in his arms and told me I was strong.

For months he reminded me of my capabilities.

When my Nanny was ill, she chose him to lift her casket and shoulder her weight, even though he and I were no longer together. He did so without thought or hesitation.

When my brother died, he blamed himself. My brother was his brother.

Looking back this beautiful man gifted me with a normal life. We didn’t drink or do drugs, didn’t physically fight, arguments were civil. The children saw a loving, kind home. The traditional home where the husband went to work and the wife raised the children was what both of us wanted. Our life was full of chaos and happiness.

He was everything I needed, exactly when I needed him. He was a wonderful husband, and is a great dad.

I look back on those kids who decided to get married and have a family, and I just smile. It felt like the world was against us. But we knew we could make it.

And we did. Of course it never looks exactly how you envision it.

Today we love each other deeply. We are friends, parents, and partners. We support each other. We cheer each other on, look out for each other. He’s my ride or die.

I put my divorce papers next to my marriage certificate in the ‘important papers’ file and went to make a pot of coffee.

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