I just couldn’t do it.
Some of my girlfriends were getting together for dinner and to hear a godly woman speak to them about something important. But that day, I just couldn’t do it. These wonderful women would ask how I was. And I’d answer, “Good!” because the truth was complicated and would evoke more conversation. We’d sit and listen to a woman talk about how she prayed her way out of a bad chapter. And I just couldn’t hear that one more time. Not that night. I just didn’t have it in me. So, instead, I sat in my car in a parking lot, trying to pull myself together before I went home to two hungry teenage boys.
The Emergency Room (Marriage Counseling)
I had been in that Emergency Room (marriage counseling) so many times before. The big question remained the same. “Can this leg be saved?” Deep in the pit of my stomach, I was frantic. Oh please, oh please, oh please, not my leg. Please don’t cut it off! What will I do? What will my children do? Please save my leg!!
I sat on the Emergency Room table for many weeks, examining the wound. And the many wounds that came in the 20 years leading up to that moment – there in the Emergency Room…again.
“How does it make you feel after all these years together?” the ER doctor asked.
Angry. Hurt. Betrayed. Frustrated. Astounded. Unloved. What a waste.
When I saw the blue and red cop lights in my rear view mirror, I had no idea it was the beginning of a very long night. The cop wasn’t a jerk. But he wasn’t one of those really nice ones either.
My two teenage sons were in the car and I was ever aware that they were watching how I handled the situation. We were on our way home from the airport…
“Has anything changed since you last saw the doctor?”
“Where do I begin?” I thought.
She handed me the clipboard and the standard form, which I proceeded to fill out. Last Name. First Name. Address.
Married, Single, Divorced, Widowed.
“No box for div-vidowed,” I laughed as I thought of this term a friend of mine came up with, which so aptly described my situation.
Some holidays are not happy or joyful. They highlight absence. Something is missing. I’m not sure why it took me so long to realize that Father’s Day would permanently be such a hard day for my sons. Their dad died when they were teenagers. They were 17 and 13. He’d taken his own life a week before Christmas. All along, I thought Christmas was going to forever be a Dark Cloud Holiday for them.
But it was Father’s Day.
Something is missing: A Father.
It’s pretty much everywhere. Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ saith the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.’”
I walked through the Christian bookstore and it was all over the place: on plaques, key chains, bookmarks, greeting cards, clocks and Bible covers. I scoff: “My life doesn’t feel much like a plan…”
“I’m so tired of being sad,” I said to Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright (yes, Prince lyrics)
“I bet you are,” the counselor said calmly.
We talked some more until my hour was up and I left. I went back the next week. And we did some more excavating into my soul. At some point in the conversation I again said, “I’m just so tired of being sad.” And he said, “I bet you are.”
Well aren’t you going to give me something to fix that? A pill? A book? A suggestion? An exercise? How about some homework? Nothing? …Maybe he didn’t understand me.
I tried not to look anyone in the eye as I scanned around the room. No one was forced to be in this class, yet no one wanted to be there. “I’m glad you’re here today, but I’m sorry you have to be here.” The facilitator of my divorce support group didn’t need to command our attention. None of us were feeling very chatty.
“We’re hoping to get a Godly perspective on an ungodly situation.” The facilitator was careful and balanced his words around all the emotional china in the room. A few boxes of Kleenex held their place in the middle of the table. That’s never a good sign…
“How did I end up here?” I asked myself. I was sitting alone outside a Douglas County courtroom in Omaha, Nebraska. The question had double meaning: “How did I end up in Omaha?” as well as “How did I end up in a divorce?” Both lawyers were down the hall hashing out weekend visitation for two innocent victims, holidays, and whether or not he gets to keep the china. The murals above me of pioneers coming to Nebraska provided no metaphors for the day. Nothing poetic. It’s Divorce Day. Court Day. How weird. I came through the doors a married woman, but will leave this building single. Never thought I’d be doing this. Never thought our love story would end like this. Glad I wore black today. Glad I came alone. No one should witness this. Today Hope will die.
“He’s shot himself…He didn’t make it…” said the voice on the other end of the phone. It was December 17, 2007. One week before Christmas. The call came from the New Wife. She’d been married to my ex-husband for about 18 months. He and I had been married for 20 years. He was the father of our two sons. And now he was dead. First words out of my mouth:
“What am I going to tell the kids?”