Once upon a time there was a young girl who fell in love...
We were nothing alike: I was serious, quiet and loved books and art. He was funny, boisterous, an athlete. Still, our foundations were similar and we felt we could build on their solidity, joining our worlds and starting our own, unique family.
He could infuriate me...but he could also make me laugh. It was hard to stay angry in the midst of charming company. His practical nature grounded my romantic soul and he watched over me like a man who adores his wife.
We traveled to Canada and Missouri to fish, and weekends found us huddled in a mass of brush in chilly fall weather. We would sit in the stillness of morning amidst chattering squirrels; waiting for the soft steps of a doe or buck on crisp leaves. A camera was my friend. A rifle was his. We shot baskets at the park and watched the Celtics and Royals on T.V. It was interesting, different, fun. But....it was him.
Years passed swiftly bringing us a precious auburn-haired daughter and an adorable and delightful brown-eyed boy. They turned our world with their joyful antics and for awhile we forgot that there was supposed to be a "You and Me". Life became more about them and less about us, and growth was substituted with sustinence.
Life is a kaleidoscope of color and complexity, swirling around in a tube of ever-changing patterns. I began to find a stranger in the mirror each morning, as if someone had crawled beneath the covers of my existance in the middle of the night and chased the real 'me' away. And when the dust cleared and I stepped back into my life, I was a single mother, checking the ugly title of "divorced" on applications and forms.
It was my idea, the separation. People think that initiating the end makes it easier and pain-free. It seemed that everyone was angry with me as family and friends fell away. They could not see from my perspective and as a result, the light went out in my perfect, unblemished world.
It took years for me to forgive myself; I came from a long line of happy and lasting marriages and knew I had let so many people down. But slowly I made my way back to a place where I was proud of where I stood and content with my life.
Though my former husband and I had some bitterness at first, we sat down together and made choices that would be best for our children and for our own lives. We put aside the pain we both felt to make things right for us all. For us, it was the only option.
Ten years ago we took a terrible road and became lost, going in different directions, unable to find our way back to the same path. But the roads we took separately have led us to a neutral place of understanding and affection that will be with us til the end. We share a past. We share a family. He is still very close to my parents and siblings, and since his own mom and dad are gone, I wouldn't dream of taking away the only parents he now has. He comes to our son's games and to my daughter's programs. He takes them shopping for dress slacks and glittery gold shoes and is a part of many moments of their lives. He sits beside my husband at games where they discuss strategy and talk about their days on the court, and people stare, perplexed that we "work" as a normal and loving family.
Our children are young people who are strong in their identity, knowing who and where they came from and feeling safe in the love we each give them. They've never been asked to choose between us, but know that love is unconditional and has no boundaries. They are bright, intelligent people who are happy and grounded and secure because we have chosen to make their lives so.
It would be easy to drum up the hurtful moments; the things that ate at our marriage and caused it to crumble. But life is too short, too fleeting to be wasted on yesterday's failures. You pick up the pieces and find a way to make them fit. It's new and different from before, but the beauty is still there. It's called forgiveness, love, perseverance....and hope.