I am stunned by the similarities between death and divorce. The two "D" words that intersect and transform our lives. I have never -- until now -- truly understood the trauma of divorce. I only knew it in a more cerebral sense -- as termination, but without the rituals that death afford us. I knew divorce only in its language of whispers and shame, and the ensuing silence, the failure. I knew it as an ending/a severing with its share of heartache, especially in the presence of shared children, but had no concept of its more profound impact.
I am intimate with the knock on the door at 2am by police officers, those bearers of ill news; and now I know the surprise of coming home from work to a dramatically altered reality, in which one has no voice, no choice. As in the unexpected death of a loved one, the axe has wielded its blow, the trunk of the tree which seemed would grow and last far beyond what anyone could ever imagine is now forever sundered, and it's not at all a clean cut but with rips and shreds of still-alive bark, the blood-work, the guts of the tree spilling and spilling.
It's a messy universe.
Now, though, there is not so much (I think, but may be wrong here) the extended grief of the larger community. When M. died, it seemed that a greater share of my grief was borne from the reflection of my own in that of my children, his parents and siblings, my siblings and their spouses, his friends and the large community that loved him, and vice versa. The physical weight of it seemed a living thing, visceral. The only way I could endure the grief in others was to attempt take carry it all myself. (Not recommended.)
This is not the case now. This is an entirely new and foreign social order. Battles lines have been established, defended. There are those who walk both sides, which, though troubling for all my sense of righteousness, illustrates on their behalf a willingness to want to see both sides of the story.
But for me, now, there exists only this staggering sadness, and sorrow for the relationship I loved/love. I don't dismiss the polarity of feelings that rampage through my nightmares, the love/hate, the anger/joy, the confusion, and this teetering on the edge of every day. I am -- as always -- primed for a moment of teary laughter (which occurs more often than not), and also leery of lingering melancholy.
Yet within this past month I've gone from the absolute terror of walking alone down the street to today's confident striding to-and-from the mile-long walk to work.
What is the path?
A bucket-load of cash to any of you who can answer that.