Even a pebble makes ripples, Dad says. But I didn’t drop a pebble in the pond, did I, Dad? It wasn’t a pebble.
It was a boulder, wasn’t it? It was two boulders, maybe. It was…a landslide. And the water may never be still again.
Our life was a series of pedestals, and we tiptoed around on them. I guess I never did belong up there, trying hard to balance precariously alongside people who proudly live on pedestals, who look down at people below who never deserved to be up there.
Who is a good person? Who? Who has a good heart? The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? Only God. Not any person on any worldly pedestal.
We were kids, 17 and 16. I remember well. Funny, smart, hardworking kids. Making bagels. Scrimping. Making plans. Listening to Radiohead. Thought we had the bull by the horns, maybe we did for a while, but no. I guess we caught the tiger by the tail instead.
People like wrapping loss up in little justification packages–
The problem is…I married an asshole. The problem is…she turned out to be crazy. We just, we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into…
You know it is, and I know it is.
There was love. There was more than one betrayal from both of us. There was forgiveness. There were hurts. There was a lot of interference from people who didn’t belong between us. People I let in; people you let in. There was apathy. There was triumph. There were so many laughs. There were cries. Sure.
Every marriage is two sinners who buckle down and refuse to give up on each other, against whatever odds they have both brought to the table. And we did that. For 15 years, we did that.
I cannot tell you how many inaccurate, blatantly ignorant comments have been made to me over the years by so-called friends regarding my first marriage.
“I think maybe you just never loved him.” “I didn’t know your marriage was a facade.” “Don’t say hi to me in public, Emily, because I’m not ready for that; I know what’s really going on.”
Oh do you? You all knew the intimate intricacies of my own marriage better than I did? Interesting.
Where were you when we decorated our first apartment? Where were you when we took care of each other when we were sick? Where were you when I cried about his betrayals? Where were you when we held hands as I pushed our daughters into the world? Where were you when he forgave me for my betrayals? Because I don’t remember any of you being there for any of it. So you go ahead and believe your shallow lies.
We became the ending only.
If every marriage is a refusal to give up, then every divorce is…giving up on each other. We did that, too. And none of you were a part of any of it.
“I will kill every feeling I have for you. You will mean nothing to me. Nothing.” You said it. And you meant it. And you live it. Fifteen years of mostly good memories, but none of it will matter.
Used to was: I could do no wrong in your eyes, even at times when I knew I was so wrong.
“Emily, I’ve always been on your side. Even when no one else was. It was me. I was. You know that’s true. Even when we separated, people would tell me how it looked, what you were probably up to…and that’s never how I saw it. Not my Emily. No. ” He loosened his tie and unbuttoned his collar. Choked it back. Not one to cry.
But now. It seems I can’t do anything right. Every way that I handle things, you have a judgment, a criticism, a remark, a request. You see me through crap-tinted glasses. Everything about me is shit now. Okay.
I became the ending. The fleeting backstage deceit made the spotlight years a lie to you. My name becomes a knell that few dare to toll in your presence. Or maybe a joke…Yeah, probably a joke.
I did do lots of wrong. And I’m sorry. Do you even know that I’m so sorry? I’ve said it, but you aren’t one to acknowledge any emotion. I remember your brother sobbing at your grandfather’s funeral. And you leaned over to him, “You don’t have to think about anything sad, and then you won’t cry.” Your solutions.
Would it make me a better person to pretend my heart never loved you before? I don’t really trust people who do that. To turn every speck of love into loathing? Erase every photo. Block every memory. Never happened.
Should I pretend we don’t know each other? Maybe we don’t anymore. But we did.
Tell it however you want to. No, you will choose to say nothing. You do that. I will keep the photos and memories and stories.
If I die first, don’t worry, no one expects you to cry. But when you die, I will quietly sit on a back row at your funeral. And I will cry. I’ll remember the full story. And I will cry.