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itwillneverhappen2me on Last Night I Forgot I was…
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- Almost Spring
This time of year brings to mind all of the changes and challenges of months past. Working hard to stay in my lane, resisting the urge to stray into others.
As the light of day grows shorter and the leaves on the trees change color, I realize the seasons are not the only things changing right now.
I have changed.
I am no longer the wife whose husband suddenly decided to end their marriage. Gone is the girl curled up on the bed sobbing and wondering what it was she did wrong. Ceasing to exist is the voice in my head encouraging me to take matters into my own hands in order to end the pain of his rejection.
I have shed the tears of the lost.
I have mourned the death of what I thought my future would be.
I have cast aside the demons that have plagued me these past years.
I no longer crave the comfort of an old love.
The seasons have changed and so have I.
I am stronger than I ever have been.
I am capable of living my life on my own.
I am who I am without the need to pretend to be someone else.
I am the person I was always meant to be.
Today as the autumn winds whipped through the trees, tearing leaves from the branches, tossing them without thought or concern for their safety, trusting in the age old process of letting go of the old in order to make way for the new, I thought of my journey and how similar it is to the changing of the seasons.
My winter began on May 5, 2012. I was in shock and frozen in place, standing in the middle of a lake with nothing but a thin layer of ice bearing the weight of my pain. Afraid to move for fear of disrupting the fragile peace I had created between the self that wanted to live and the one that wanted to die. As I took a baby step forward I heard the ice begin to crack and before I knew it all was dark. Quiet. The pain gone. I was gone.
The thaw began three days later when the warm spring air carried the voice of my daughters across the frozen lake where they landed gently upon my heart, urging me to reach for the branch they were holding out and I, with all of the strength I could muster, grabbed it and did not let go until they pulled me back to life.
It was an unpredictable spring; some days the rain was but a drizzle and others a torrential downpour that I thought would never end. Family and friends brought with them sunshine and love. Without which I would not have noticed the buds on the trees or the tulips poking their colorful heads out of the soil.
I often felt the hands of Winter trying to pull me back into the icy water of death. However, Spring won out and moved into Summer where I enjoyed moments of life surrounded by the beauty of nature and love of family. Each day I moved forward was a victory.
As the seasons changed so did I.
Beginning the New Year by traveling across the world to immerse myself in Zimbabwean culture, rescuing and caring for animals, making lifelong friends proved to be the healing tonic I had been searching for. It was such an incredible experience I did not want to leave. I had to settle for leaving pieces of my heart and soul along with the promise to return.
Arriving home I realized Winter had not left after all. I did my best to hold on to what I had gained in Africa. I spent a lot of time with my herd and the healing continued. Once again Spring turned to Summer and life moved forward.
It’s been 18 months since that day in May. I have fought my way through two Winters and have been blessed with as many Springs and Summers.
Then there is Fall…
I love this time of year and today especially; beautiful shades of autumn flying through the air only to land in a pile on the ground, begging to be kicked, scooped up and tossed into the sky like so much confetti. Which I did with childlike abandon while my herd formed a circle of love and acceptance around me.
I am an autumn baby. I am blessed with a visceral connection to this season of dramatic colorful change and the beauty that comes with it. I feel peace, love and light today. I feel nostalgic about certain events and years gone by.
Most of all I feel gratitude. I am grateful to each and every one of you that have walked this path with me. Through tears and laughter, you were there for me. You are still here for me. And I for you.
The seasons will continue to change and so will I.
Matthew is my nine year old grandson.
In his brief time on earth he has experienced things most adults wish to avoid.
He is an old soul.
Being a grandparent to Matthew is the only thing in life that has ever lived up to the hype. We love each other from the moon and back ten times over.
If you ask him who loves him best he will say, “Gramma”.
I am his soft place to fall.
Some of our best conversations happen while driving.
“Gramma, how do they know if you are having a girl or a boy?”
“Well, there a few ways but usually people find out via ultra sound…” I proceed to tell him how an ultra sound works, hoping I am right because he takes everything I say as gospel.
I talk about sound waves bouncing off the baby and amniocentesis for women who are older.
“I’m confused,” he says. “don’t you only get a few eggs?
“Yes. Women are born with a certain amount of eggs but men have a lot of sperm and those sperm have to swim really fast for it to work.”
“I’m confused… how does the water break?”
“Well, it breaks in different ways.” I respond “You know how when your stomach hurts and you have to go to the bathroom?”
“Okay, so imagine that times a thousand!”
I go on to explain how the contractions help to break the bag of water. I take the time to explain it in medical terms. I read some where that it is best to honest and use the appropriate terminology when speaking to children.
“But Gramma, I’m confused… does the baby come out with the water?”
As you can see, Matthew’s favorite line is, “I’m confused…” I have to admit, it works.
“The short answer is yes but it’s a bit more complicated than that.”
We went on to talk about cervix and dilation and much to my surprise it’s a concept he seemed to grasp. We moved on to ovaries and hysterectomies (his mother had just had one a few months prior).
“Gramma, do you believe in God?”
I take a deep breath here as the conversation becomes more philosophical.
“I believe in a power greater than myself and I choose to call that power, “God”.
“Do you believe in God?” I ask
“Yes.” his answer is simple and sure. I wonder where and when he decided there was a God.
“Gramma, how old is my “other” dad?”
I inhale deeply, exhale slowly. This is tricky territory and not the first time we’ve been here. “Your dad died when he was 24, a month before his 25th birthday.”
“But how old would he be now?”
“If your dad was alive he would be turning 31 on November 5th.”
“So, he’s 31?”
“… yes, sweetie. I guess he would be 31 this year.”
“The last time I saw my dad he died.” he says as a matter of fact.
“I know sweetie.”
“Do you remember your dad?”
“Kinda… not really.”
‘Gramma, did you love my dad?”
Wow… this is a huge question without an easy answer. For a moment I feel trapped, not sure what the “right” answer is.
“I loved the way your dad loved you, sweetie.” deep breath. “And your dad loved you more than any thing in the world.”
It’s the truth. His dad did love him more than he loved himself. Unfortunately, his demons got in the way thus the sudden demise of one so young.
I am careful not to put his “other dad” on a pedestal but at the same time I want Matthew to know how much he was loved by the man no longer in his life.
Abruptly the conversation changes.
“Gramma, if two men get married that makes them gay, right”
This is not our first conversation about gay and lesbian relationships.
“Nope, you can be gay and not get married.”
“But it’s their decision to kiss another boy, right?”
“No, not quite. You decide what shoes you put on every day, right?”
“Well, being gay or lesbian is not about a decision. It’s about how you are born. Some people are born wanting to kiss boys and others that want to kiss girls. It’s not a choice. It’s how God made them.”
“The choice comes in when you choose to act on those desires but that goes for everyone whether they are gay, lesbian or heterosexual.” Yes, I speak to him in these adult terms. That is how he will learn the truth.
“I kissed a girl…” he tosses out this fact like we are in the 9th inning of the seventh game of the world series and the score is tied.
I take a moment and then ask my nine year old, fourth grade grandson, “Really? Who have you kissed?”
“”I’ve kissed you and mom and auntie…” huge sigh of relief because one never knows.
“That’s good. That’s different.” I say with relief.
“Gramma, I love you.”
“I love you, Matthew.”
Shortly thereafter we arrive at our destination and he is once again a nine year old boy ready to play transformers with Eli and Ryan.
I am grateful that Matthew trusts me to tell him the truth however painful or difficult it can be it at times.
I look forward to our conversations in the car. I am often surprised by the depth of this boy and the insightful questions he asks.
I love him more than I could have ever imagined.
He loves me more than I could have ever hoped.
Conversations with Matthew… Never a dull moment.
I was watching Oprah one day many years ago when I first heard her share the very wise words of her dear friend and mentor Maya Angelo: When people show you who they are, believe them.
It can not be any clearer or simpler than that and I have tried to live by that premise.
Here’s the challenge… what do you when they change?
You believe them.
What if they are flip floppers?
Believing when people show us who they truly are whether it be positive or negative is the only way to navigate your own course and not be distracted by the pretty shiny things someone might be trying to use to steer you off your course and on to their own.
It’s not easy. I’m a girl. I like pretty shiny things and can be easily distracted.
However, what I know for sure is who I am. I trust my instinct about people and am often right.
And when I am wrong, I own it.
Good or bad.
When people show you who they are… Believe them. It just might save you some time and heartache.
I didn’t sleep well last night.
I woke often and carefully tugged at the covers to gain a bit more for myself but didn’t want to disturb my husband sleeping soundly next to me.
I cuddled up against him, trying to absorb some of his body heat to chase away the early morning chill that hung in the air. As I rolled over I could feel the pressure of his legs leaning into mine as he sidled up next to me.
Even as I enjoyed the closeness I felt as if something was wrong. Like we had gone to bed before resolving an argument or that I was forgetting something important.
This feeling lasted throughout the night and infiltrated my dreams.
I didn’t sleep well last night but for some reason I didn’t want to wake up.
Didn’t want to open my eyes.
… and then I did.
Brain foggy with sleep I rolled over and saw one of my cats sound asleep cuddled up next to me, hogging the covers.
It was only then that I remembered.
I’m not married anymore.
I haven’t slept or cuddled with that man, any man, for a very long time.
I don’t know how it happened but last night I forgot I was divorced and mistook the cuddling of my a cat for the warmth and love of a husband.
Oh well, it could have been worse.
At least I had the cat.
I’ve never cared much about jewelry.
So, when we exchanged simple gold bands on that lovely summer day in 1995 I was happy. Those circles of gold represented the promises we made to each other that day. And that is what made them valuable to me.
In our second year of marriage for Valentine’s Day he gave me a diamond wedding set. Not because I longed for a diamond or he had a romantic notion to fulfill. I had lost my simple circle of gold and all of the promises it held and we needed to replace it.
We were doing a little better financially at this time so I ended up with a diamond wedding set. I would love to say he “re-proposed” as he slipped the ring on my finger but he did neither.
Come to think of it he never really proposed. It was a casual conversation that turned into a wedding one month later.
About a year after I lost my gold band, a friend of mine found it in the couch we had given her. He took my circle of promises and slipped it on the pinky finger of his left hand and there it stayed.
He still has it somewhere…
In the eighth year of our marriage I watched a documentary on “Blood Diamonds” and how they were used to support the wars going on in the Congo and Sierra Leone. I saw images of women and children with their hands chopped off to prevent them from mining these diamonds that are so often used as a status symbol. Sickened by these images and the reasons behind them I removed my diamonds and vowed never to wear them again. My husband supported and even applauded my social conscience.
I was happy to place that gold circle, keeper of promises back on my finger. However, my husband really liked the symbolism of wearing my original wedding band on his pinky finger and I felt the sentiment behind that was sweet and meaningful. So we purchased a new, slightly fancier band; that I, once again; slipped on my own finger.
Two years later as our 10th wedding anniversary approached I was very excited. It was a milestone that meant a lot to me. For several years I had wanted and been mentally designing a platinum band to mark this very special occasion. A couple of months prior to our anniversary both my husband and I went to a local jeweler and explained what I wanted. We sat there with paper and pencil trying to illustrate the vision I had been carrying around with me for so long.
It was a simple design but for some reason I was having trouble getting it out. At one point my husband took the pencil from my hand and began to draw exactly what I was looking for; a simple platinum band with 10 starbursts engraved all the way around. Each starburst represented one year of marriage. On the inside of the ring I had him engrave the words, “The First 10”.
My dream was to have a similar band created for every 10 years we were married. It was a romantic notion for sure but one that was meaningful to me.
The ring was ready a week before our anniversary and I was excited to pick it up. It was exactly what I had envisioned and it felt even more special because we had both participated in the design.
As much as I wanted to wear the ring—and he encouraged me to—I wanted to wait. We had plans to go away for our anniversary. Just a quick trip to Sun Mountain Lodge for the weekend but I was very excited.
As I reflect on that weekend and all the effort he put in for it to be romantic and filled with surprises I have to wonder where we went wrong…
The biggest surprise came on the day we were officially married 10 years.
It was early afternoon and we were sharing a bath and glass of wine in the Jacuzzi tub. He reached out, picked up my left hand and held it gently. He began to share how much he loved me and how happy he was to be married to me. He said how proud he was of my decision to give up wearing diamonds and the reasons behind it. As he continued to speak he began to slip the anniversary band off the finger of my left hand where I had happily placed it just that morning, replacing it with a beautiful princess cut diamond.
I opened my mouth to protest but he asked me to hear him out. He told me the story of how he had been working with the same jeweler for months to find what was called a Polar Bear Diamond. It’s a diamond mined in Canada and is considered “bloodless” or “Conflict Free”. He went on to say how much it meant to him to put this diamond on my finger because I, more than anyone, deserved it.
Needless to say I was crying at this point. It was such a thoughtful and meaningful gesture. It meant the world to me. I felt as if the promises held in the gold band on his pinky finger could be shared, if not transferred to this ring.
In 2006, for Christmas he gave me a beautiful ring that held three diamonds (all conflict free) to represent the past, present and future. Again, it was thoughtful, meaningful and a surprise.
Christmas 2007 it was a diamond journey necklace.
It was around that time we decided not to exchange gifts anymore. We generally bought ourselves what we wanted or needed and decided to remove the “pressure” of having to come up with gift ideas.
The first year of no gifts was tough for me but I got used to it.
In 2011 we spent our last Christmas together as a married couple (blissfully unaware that in five short months it would all be over). It was also the year that he surprised me with the most meaningful and thoughtful gesture I had ever received from him.
As I mentioned, we had stopped exchanging gifts several years prior so I wasn’t expecting anything which explains why I was confused when two gifts were placed in my lap. They appeared to be professionally wrapped in white glossy paper with red ribbon and bows (the colors of our Christmas decorations) but they weren’t.
He had wrapped them himself.
I looked at the gifts and then at him and whispered, “You got me a present?” my voice filled with emotion.
He just looked at me without responding.
“You got me a present.” I stated my voice filled with awe.
“I can’t believe you got me a present.” I whispered as the tears began to flow.
Upon opening the first gift I immediately recognized the box as being from Swarovski and rightfully guessed it was the crystal horses I had been raving about for weeks.
“Are these what I think they are?” I could feel the heat on my cheeks and taste the salt of my tears as they flowed faster and harder.
I didn’t even finish opening them before I reached over to hug and hold him.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe you did this! When? How?” The questions flowed as the shock wore off and joy took over.
He encouraged me to stop talking and continue opening my presents.
After spending several minutes admiring my beautiful horses I gently placed them back in the box.
As I reached for the smaller gift I looked at him and said, “But I didn’t get you anything.”
“This,” he gestured to me “is my gift.”
I began to slowly, methodically unwrap the second present. I wanted to savor every moment. However, as soon as I saw the distinct shade of Tiffany blue I tore into it. Inside of the box was a diamond infinity ring set in platinum.
“Because I knew you wanted gifts this year.”
“Is it because I’ve been sick?”
That was the last piece of jewelry he gave me.
Our marriage ended five months later.
That was 15 months ago.
Yesterday I decided I was ready to let go of the past and begin moving forward.
I took the jewelry that represented those thoughtful and meaningful moments of our marriage and sold them to a wholesaler. Apparently those moments aren’t as valuable now as when they happened since I received but a fraction of what they cost… monetarily anyway.
I sat silently as the jeweler evaluated each piece. Remembering… Tears came to my eyes and my voice shook as he asked questions. He kept apologizing to me. Telling me how sorry he was that my marriage had ended. Asking me if I was sure I wanted to do this.
All sentiments I would’ve liked my ex-husband to have expressed to me before he made his decision to end the marriage.
“Yes. I’m sure.” I said. “It’s time to move on.” My spirit grew stronger as I spoke these words and I am happy to say they are the truth. I felt lighter when I walked out of there.
Letting go of the past.
Moving towards my future.
As I thought about what to do with the money I knew I would pay some bills. I also felt the need to do something meaningful and thoughtful with the proceeds. To honor the spirit in which they were given and received.
Immediately an idea came to me. One I followed through on when I got home.
I wrote a check to my daughter and son-in-law. They have been trying to conceive for the last two years without success. We recently found out they would not be able to have a child without help. The money will be used to help pay for the first fertility treatment they will be doing in September. The intent is that each one of those diamonds will be forever represented and the meaning behind hold true… hopefully, through the success of this procedure.
A Solitaire Diamond ring from a conflict free source representing love and respect
The Past, Present and Future ring with flawless stones implying a life well lived
A Journey Necklace shaped to represent the road to be traveled
An Infinity ring representing the love, respect and commitment to be given and received
If diamonds are truly meant to be forever then they never really belonged to me. They would have eventually been passed on, creating new memories of meaningful and thoughtful gestures for someone else.
The diamonds are gone.
The memories tucked away.
The intention paid forward.