So many of us who were divorced in the tumultuous 60s and 70’s are now facing another life cycle event: the death of that former spouse. This prompts some thoughtful and introspective time. The following is my story .
We were married for 22 years when we separated and then divorced in 1979. That’s a long time to be married and an even longer time to have gone our separate ways into new lives. I’ve remarried and so did he.
Then, after nearly 28 years of separation, I received a call from my daughter (his too) to tell me that her father was dead. I was out of town when the call came, high in the Colorado mountains, experiencing a winter snowstorm. Leaving early to fly home was not an option. Besides, I was not ready to step into that drama. I stayed on for two more days, receiving lots of loving counseling from wise, caring friends. By the time I got home, the funeral was over and my role was to comfort my adult children and four grandchildren. I did this, even went so far as to hold a birthday breakfast party for our 12 year old grandson the morning after I arrived home. And then it hit.
This was the man I married at 18; had three children with him; moved from our home in Massachusetts and built a career and a life in Florida together; went through the torment of our oldest child being stricken with cancer and dying in 1966; and many other life experiences. Finally, in 1979, after many attempts to bridge the growing gap between us, we divorced. Moving on was harder than I expected, but I claimed a new and different life, one that was more to my liking than the one he and I had together. In 1985, I remarried a different kind of man and we been married these past 22 years.
And then the call. “ Dad is dead,” is all she said and I found myself weeping and saying over and over again: “Oh, I’m so sorry, so sorry.” I didn’t know then for whom I was expressing that sorrow, but it was spontaneous and genuine. Five days later, I still feel that sorrow and sadness, but now I can identify that it is for my children, their children, and even for myself. I am sorry that there was so much rancor between us in the end years of our marriage and after the divorce. I am sorry that my children now must revisit that place of brokenness and regret once again. They had put the pain of the divorce behind them and are both now married with children of their own.
This sadness, part of my own mourning ritual, lasted for a week, and then I visited a friend, retold her the story, and then I relegated that part of my life back to the “archives” where it had been for so many years.
Fern Park (Orlando) Florida
October 8, 2007
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