“…ask for a Diet Coke to put them in. That way, at least you’ll have a decent beverage for your descent into Hell.”
— Grettir Asmundarson
The last three-and-a-half years have honestly been the worst years of my semi-long and rather pathetic life. I guess the disintegration of a marriage has a way of doing that to you, and the disintegration of mine has been like watching a three-and-a-half-year-long train wreck happening in slow motion. You know what’s going to happen in the end, you can see it happening right in front of you, but no matter how much you don’t want it to happen or how hard you try to keep it from happening, it’s going to happen anyway. And now comes the really unpleasant part. It’s time to notify the next-of-kin.
Within the next week or so, I’ll have the opportunity to sit down with my two little girls and explain to them that their mother and I are getting divorced. The thought of it makes me want to gouge out my eyes with a melon baller, but instead I will sit there with a straight face and say all of the reassuring things that books about divorce tell you to say to your kids so they won’t notice that what you’re really doing is ripping the rug right out from under their little feet.
We’ll explain it to them in such a way that no one is to blame and everybody wins. “This is best thing in the world! Your Mom and Dad get to pursue their lives as fully self-actualized human beings and you kids will have two bedrooms to decorate. Doesn’t that sound like fun?”
Then we’ll have the legal niceties. Since we are fairly rational, intelligent human beings, there will be blessed few points of legal contention, but that doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. For instance, I will get to sit in a mediator’s office and make contingency plans about how we will divide time with the girls if one of us moves out of state.
That means I get to negotiate for the privilege of not having my daughters in my life for six months out of the year. But, which six months of the year do I not want to tuck them in? Which six months of the year do I not want to order pizza and pop microwave popcorn with them and watch “Swiss Family Robinson” for the thirtieth time? And which six months of the year will I not get to intervene in an argument between the two of them and say, “You girls are going to be sisters for the rest of your lives. You need to learn to work these things out. What? Why did your Mom and I get divorced? Oh, we had irreconcilable differences.”
But it’s not all bad, right? I’m learning important life lessons, right? Well, I’ll tell you the important life lessons I’ve learned:
Even though there have been times when things have been so bad that I honestly didn’t think my heart could bear it one second longer, it did bear it one second longer…and then another…and then a minute…and then an hour…and then a year…and the pain was still there…and my heart was still beating…and I don’t know whether to be grateful for or appalled by the fact that, no matter how bad it gets, you get by.
I will never, in this lifetime, comprehend the complexities of the human heart.