Yesterday I took some letters to the post office and saw one of my favorite postmasters. It's been awhile since we talked, and we took some time to catch up. He told me about his family and then asked about the divorce since I wasn't wearing a ring.
I looked him in the face and said, "Well, I'm not actually divorced. We were a month from the divorce being final when Rob died in February."
He looked me in the eyes and asked, "So are you sad or relieved?"
My heart caught in my chest. "On which day? Or sometimes, which time of the day?"
Without breaking eye contact, he said, "That's what I would expect."
And I couldn't move. I just stared back...stunned at how good it felt to be seen...to be honest...finally.
I feel like I'm caught in a no man's land.
On one hand, I have the people who knew the best of Rob and rightfully loved him and admired him. Naturally, they expect me to be a grieving widow filled with sadness. On the other hand, I have people who know he left because he chose to leave instead of addressing our problems and his problems. They know the pain and struggle of the nineteen years we were married. They don't know what I would be sad about. In fact, they expect me to be relieved.
But like my postmaster friend understood, my reality consists of both.
I am relieved. I was so tired, and I couldn't hurt like that anymore. I'm not delusional. We were getting a divorce. Life was not wine and roses. Instead of being husband and wife, we were strangers living in the same house. Honestly, we had been...if I'm honest...for most of our whole marriage, and we were tired. Yes, I am relieved.
I am also horribly sad.
I miss my friend.
I miss the person I shared twenty-two years of my life with.
I miss the man whose face lit up when he held our babies.
I miss the man who helped me focus when I was too tired to push "one more time".
I miss the man who understood when he walked in and I was standing at the door purse and keys in hand because I needed a mommy break.
I miss the man who knew my quirks, shared inside jokes, understood when a red loggers shirt made me go to pieces at Walmart.
I miss the man who wrote checks to pay people's rent, buy children's Christmas gifts, and put groceries on someone else's table.
I miss...oh, God...all the things I miss....
And the thing is there is no one to share stories with. It's not like when my dad died, and I could talk with family or long time friends. I could talk with people who knew my dad when I was small or even before, and we could tell the stories. I learned how comforting telling the stories was. When my mom was in the hospital, my friend Jessica spent the night. We were up most of the night, talking, telling stories. Oh, it felt good to tell the stories, to know Mom's place in someone else's heart and her value in their life, to tell them how much she filled mine.
But with Rob, there is no one to tell stories.
It's almost like grieving the secret lover no one knew. Who is there to tell? Who would understand? Who will approve of the gamut of emotions that run through my system like a river out of control? The friends we shared either took "his side" and don't speak to me now or don't know what to say. I understand. It's a strange place to be.
It's a place where I find myself alone.
I've read through Rob's emails and texts. I know he wasn't happy with me as a wife, but I also know he told people over and over what a great mom I am and how talented I am as a writer. The crazy man complimented my cooking, even though he knew I hate to cook. Maybe that is why it was a big deal to him. I hate to cook, but I always tried to have dinner ready when he got home. He told people what a great job I did teaching the children academically and in all other ways. Over and over he said we have great kids because of me.
We stunk at marriage, but we thought the world of each other.
How does one explain that? I don't know. I can't. I just know it's true.
And this person that I thought the world of is gone, and my heart hurts.
People tell me to get over it, to get over him. After all, he didn't want me. He chose to leave.
Yes, he did. My husband left, and I'm not really sorry. This amazing man I knew named Rob died, and my heart is broken.
And there are so many stories...about the husband I don't miss...and the amazing man I do...
But instead of telling stories, I grieve in silence...
Dear God, I hate no man's land.