This is a tribute to working through one of the most painful episodes of life – divorce. I am forever grateful to my ex-husband for looking deep inside and being able to lay down the weapons. I am not gloating and it was never easy. Viewing one’s own failings through the eyes of a supposed adversary is humbling. Looking beyond the adversarial position to what someone is truly saying takes a lot of patience and humility.
Seven years after our divorce, we found ourselves floating down a river in kayaks; Hanni was zipping along ahead of us, beside us, behind us, taking photos. It was a lazy, late Saturday afternoon. We got together to dig through the cartons of books, photos and childhood mementos he has stored since we split. The kayak trip was a precursor to the sifting of those boxes and a great dinner on his deck. It was an early toast to Father’s Day and belatedly to Hanni’s graduation from college a few weeks back.
At some point I was struck by a sense of déjà vu. When Jeffrey and I started our life together, we often packed a picnic and rented a canoe. We would paddle upstream from Newton, MA on the Charles River until it became a muddy delta. From there we would turn around and float back down, snacking on wine, bread and cheese.
With all the recent rain, the river Nashua River this past Saturday was swollen all the way up its banks; the current was a bit stronger than we expected. The twenty minutes it took to float down, turned into an hour and a half of constant paddling to bring us back to the truck by the bridge.
|Hanni and Jeffrey paddling the Nashua River|
Back at Jeffrey’s house, he went to work in the kitchen to create one of the amazing meals he is known for.
His cooking is imaginative and the presentation is always just like a cover shot for Gourmet Magazine. He has sold his house; hence the scramble to winnow down what he has to move. I am more than happy to store the girl’s things, particularly when it includes two giclee prints by Donna Howell-Sickles that I adore. Wistfully, I looked at them and remembered exactly what walls they graced in our home in Lunenburg.
A friend, Maria Langer, recently wrote elegantly about courage and stepping out of your comfort zone. She talks about having the heart to pursue your dreams and face new challenges. I think the test of putting back together a relationship that was so severely shattered, regardless of why, is one of the greatest trials of courage.
We could have remained stuck in our uncomfortable yet status quo traps. Instead, we took the hard route, packed up not only our lives, but also the lives of our children. With clear communication and a huge dose of respect for the other person’s feelings, we forged a new rapport. The reconciliation we now have probably would not have happened if it were not for our daughters. My first marriage ended with no children and I have never heard from him since. There was no need to grow the relationship beyond its inevitable end.
|To Graduation, Father’s Day and Friendship|