I was wisely dubious of my husband’s intentions to actually show up at either the Mediation or marriage counseling appointment. Sure enough, he had an excuse, and wanted to re-schedule the appointment with the Mediator. I was beyond frustrated, but not surprised. The Mediator had a stick-it-to-you 48-hour cancelation policy, and charged $350.00 an hour. I didn’t have the money to shell out for my husband’s no-show. I panicked, called and pleaded for grace in canceling the appointment only 24 hours prior. The Mediator extended it to me. I’m sure she has to deal with flaky people all the time.
Furthermore, my husband refused to attend the final meeting I had set up with our marriage counselor. I was firm with him – I did not want to see or talk to him without a third party present. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to withhold my emotions, and I didn’t feel like being manipulated any further. We exchanged emails regarding the matter, but he patently refused to attend.
He didn’t want to meet with anyone but me, and also didn’t want to be flogged with failure. He accepted responsibility for contributing to the demise of our marriage, but also felt that he had tried.
I told him I was still going, regardless. He asked me to meet him afterward. After much deliberation (and encouragement from my marriage counselor), I agreed. Perhaps this meeting would bring the closure I had been looking for, all along.
I left my appointment and trudged across the street to Conrads. Ironically, the restaurant was situated directly across the street from my counselor’s office — at the church where we had been married ten years earlier.
My husband was waiting for me in a sunken booth by the window. My heart sank when I saw him. Yet, as I scooted into the vinyl seating across from him, it all felt so familiar; comfortable. I half expected him to crack some inside, lighthearted joke about the whole ordeal, and then we’d forget about the whole thing and just go home, take Wimbley on a walk and watch TV, as if nothing had ever happened.
Other couples struggled and got divorced. That was never us. It wasn’t ever supposed to be us.
For a fleeting moment, I forgot that I didn’t know him anymore.
I ordered a cheap glass of red wine and an expensive, low-quality chicken salad. We attempted conversation, but it kept going back to the old, familiar arguments. I hadn’t supported him when he “needed me most”. He hadn’t communicated with me when I needed the security of our relationship – especially after the trust was betrayed, and then further broken.
At some point during the conversation, I encouraged my husband to immediately file a response to my petition for divorce, and then asked him to relinquish the house over to me via a Quitclaim Deed that I had already prepared. His job was to get it signed, notarized and delivered to me. The house would be mine. He agreed.
And then, he cried.
I sat there and watched him, and felt like a cold-hearted bitch. I was still angry with him. Perhaps I was even more frustrated than angry. Deep down, I wanted to believe that he hadn’t become this new person that I genuinely didn’t like. Yet, his actions spoke louder than any of his words, or tears. In 24 hours, he’d be back on a plane to Australia. Same, familiar story. Always about the story.
We finished our meal, not really having resolved anything. We walked to our separate vehicles. I noticed he was driving his parents’ car.
He asked me if he could hug me. I bristled, but finally allowed it.
As his arms enveloped me, his familiar scent wafted into my nose. I relaxed, and wrapped my arms around him. Tighter. We held each other. A tidal wave of emotion washed over me and released itself in the form of a single tear. My body sighed.
I didn’t need to look up at him to know that he was crying, as well.
After what felt like an eternity, we let go of each other.
Our marriage just ended across the street from where it began, I thought to myself. I took a sharp breath in through my nostrils.
I started to open my car door, but turned back for a moment.
“Hey,” I offered, hesitantly – “Do you want to hear a song I sang recently?”
“Sure,” he said. He always liked hearing me sing.
He walked around to the passenger side of my car and slid into the seat.
I pushed play, and we sat and listened to an extremely rough recording of me singing a very beautiful, poignant and moving song.
How high, how wide –
no matter where I am, healing is in Your hands.
After the song finished, we sat in utter, complete silence. I stared out the windshield at the sun setting behind the scattered clouds. The flourescent parking light buzzed, then flickered on and off, on and off. I could feel the heat of my husband’s body next to me. He breathed, slowly: in through his nose, then out. An elderly couple exited the restaurant and grabbed hands as they walked to their car. Somewhere, in the distance, I heard a crow caw.
I finally broke the silence with a random thought.
“Do I need to get tested again?”
He spoke softly. “No.”
He fumbled for the door handle, then looked at me. “Maybe we’ll work it out someday.”
I shrugged. “Who knows?”
“I love you, Leslie,” he said, as he got out of the car. “I have never shut the door on you; on us. I don’t think I ever will.”
“And I love you,” I answered, truthfully.
He then shut the door and walked away.