I made the decision to embark on the one true thing posts after much deliberation and with some fear. Ultimately it felt like something I needed to do. And while in each post I wrote one true thing, I had the freedom to pick and choose, to skip over, to avoid.
Not quite two weeks ago, on February 14th, on a whim, I decided to spend a moment with each of my years. I wanted to remember, to acknowledge, and to try to feel their weight. I did not anticipate the way how I spent my years would hold me accountable. It may seem as if I’m randomly including things in these posts, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. Certain things must be included.
1982: Kathleen turns one on a Monday. My parents come for dinner and cake. I don’t want to ruin the birthday, but I’ve told T that the day after he must find somewhere else to stay. On Tuesday morning, I remind him. He says, you’re not serious? I say I am. That night I call my parents. In an unanticipated turn of events, they encourage me to get a divorce. I had not thought of divorce. But once the word is loose, it seems obvious. On Friday I go to a movie with a friend. Back at home, I let the babysitter go. And it’s only then, as I climb the steps to the empty bedroom in the house where T will never come home again, that the thick sadness rolls in, filling the room, leaving no air to breathe. At school I open my books and stare into space. I don’t do very well but it doesn’t matter; my first year rank is all that does. I interview with probably fifteen Atlanta law firms for a summer job. I don’t remember considering any place else. I am wined and dined. On two occasions, I drink too much and after I get back to my hotel room, I throw up—these will be the only two times in my life I throw up because of alcohol. I get offers from all the firms except for two—and not those two. I choose a large firm, the best one in Atlanta. I adore working. I start dating. I get three speeding tickets and have at least one fender bender—not my fault but still. On a humid day in July, I return to Athens for court. The divorce is final. At the end of the summer I receive a permanent job offer. When school starts back, I don’t study. Each night at six, I rock Kathleen to sleep, thinking of all the brothers and sisters she will never have.
This is so real. You are so human. I went through a divorce while working on my MSE. My son was just a chunky little tyke. I remember that feeling… of realizing that he wouldn’t have “real” siblings. He now has 2 half-siblings on his dad’s side and 2 steps on my side. And, lo and behold… we later discovered that his dad had already fathered a child before I met him. (go figure) Life is heartbreaking and ironic, but it usually works out better than expected. Just different.
Your words mean a lot to me, Terri. It sometimes feels impossible to translate myself to the page, so I appreciate your feedback. And I’m enjoying your posts–particularly the one you just wrote that touched on all of this.
Oh my goodness, what heartbreak in this post. That last sentence really landed a punch.
I’m amazed and intrigued and excited about this accountability you’re feeling. It’s giving the posts resonance and power, and you’re making me curious about what would happen if I examined my life in this way, if my sister did, my brother. Don’t be shocked if I rip off your idea when I turn 50 (if I do, I will give you full credit). I do want to say: That year of posts was beautiful, Cyn. Maybe you were avoiding things but you were finding other things that needed and wanted to be said, too.
I’m loving this latest project and I’m so very, very glad it’s giving you so much.
Thank you, Claire. And I do hope you copy me–it would be fun to be on the other side and see what that feels like. And I appreciate all of your support for both projects.
Wow, I’m impressed how well you managed such a painful time. I’m not commenting on all posts, but they read well together.
Thanks for reading, Sarah.
That makes me sad. Turns out I got more brothers and sisters than almost anyone I know
I know–it turned out to be so not true : )