Ack, X and K

Two days after my court hearing, I boarded a plane to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

My main purpose for heading to the Midwest was to reconcile with my long-lost, dear friend, K.  I hadn’t seen her in seven years, and we had only recently reconnected.

K and I had a beautiful history.  At the time I met her, she was in a dating relationship with X’s best friend, whom I shall refer to as “Ack”.  The couple hailed from a small town in Minnesota, and fell in love the summer before their senior year in high school.  After graduation, Ack moved to California to attend Bible College.  K stayed in Minnesota, attended college for two years, and then took a job as a nanny in Massachusetts.

I met K one weekend when she was in town visiting, and we were instantly friends.  We kept up our friendship via handwritten letters (email was a bit of a foreign concept back in those days).  Eventually, K took the plunge and moved to Southern California to be closer to Ack.  She and another girlfriend of hers from Minnesota became my roommates during my senior year at Biola University.

It was 1999.

The other Minnesotan roommate married X’s other best friend in June, I married X in October, and K married Ack nine months later.  We all settled in South Pasadena, just blocks from each other, and our friendship blossomed.

It was perfect.

The six of us were inseparable; unstoppable.  We were newlyweds, best friends, and adventurers.  We were young and had lofty dreams, but we were committed to our marriages.   We planned to take over the world and raise our kids together.  We enjoyed dinner parties, intellectual conversation and Bible studies.  The boys traveled to the Middle East together, for they shared a passion for the culture, and the girls stayed at home, waiting expectantly for their husbands to return.

Eventually, the other couple followed their calling into mission work, where they and their three children still flourish to this day.  Ack and X continued to travel together and found a single male friend to add to their danger/thrill-seeking lifestyle.

In the fall of 2003, K got pregnant.

It was unexpected news, but we were beyond excited.  There was going to be a baby in the mix!

So, the boys took off on a trip to Lebanon.  I accompanied K to her 14-week ultrasound appointment.  It would be the second time she would see and hear her baby’s heartbeat.  I had never seen an actual ultrasound before, and I was ecstatic.

K lay down on the table, and the friendly technician slathered the cold gel across her taut abdomen.  We chatted excitedly as we waited for the image of the baby to appear.  We also bemoaned that fact that both our husbands were gallivanting around Beirut.  It was time for them to settle down.

The technician continued to probe K’s belly for the image of the baby, until – there!  I saw it!  A teeny, tiny, miniature human being.  Totally formed.  Amazing!  I started screeching with excitement.

K lifted her head off the thinly veiled hospital pillow to catch a glimpse of her child.

She looked at the technician, and then at the screen, and said, matter-of-factly, “There’s no heartbeat.”

Silent tears flowed down the sides of her perfect, porcelain cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” the technician said, gently, and turned off the screen.

The rest of the appointment was full of shock and sadness.  Later that evening, K somehow managed to get a hold of her husband.

Ack told her he would come home, even though he and X hadn’t completed their itinerary.   We all later learned that a majority of these overseas trips consisted of partying, dancing, picking up women, kidnapping/dangerous situations with terrorists (yes, true), and God only knows what else.

He made it a few days later, just hours after she had a surgical procedure to remove the dead baby from her body.  Ack promised K he wouldn’t leave her like that, ever again.

Yet, two weeks later, he had already planned another trip.   Ack, X and their single friend traveled to Somalia to chase pirates in the summer of 2004.

K had had it.

And so, through a series of tragic, painful and devastating circumstances/events, K left.

We were all shocked.  Our team of unstoppable six went down to a confused, broken five.  What is worse, we all judged and hated K for leaving the way she did; for destroying her marriage.

I was the most judgmental of all.

I wrote K a massive email and vomited my feelings.  I chastised her and implored her to stay in her marriage.  I tried to wrap it up by telling her that I loved her, and would always be her friend, but it seemed hopeless.

She thanked me for my honesty, and disappeared.

So, the team of feeble five (including single male friend) upheld Ack and helped him through his divorce.  We felt sorry for him, and didn’t really know how to comfort him.  Not one of us 20-something Christian kids could imagine what it would be like to lose our spouse like that.

K was an evil monster who had destroyed Ack’s soul.  Ack clothed himself in all black, and we excused his subsequent destructive behavior.

Eventually, Ack moved in with X and me for a few months, and I took care of them both.  I did Ack’s laundry.  I sorted his mail.  I warded off collection agents who called our house, looking for him. I did my best to comfort him.  I committed to hate K for him.

Ack swore to make women fall for him, just so he could break their hearts.   And that he did.

In the summer of 2009, when I knew something was terribly wrong with my own marriage, I reached out to Ack. He was, after all, a Christian, and my husband’s best friend. 

Do you have any insight on what’s going on with X?  I wrote, trying to conceal my desperation.

I am too much of a girl (emotional, crazy) to figure him out right now. I would appreciate anything you know or have observed; no offense taken at all.

Ack responded. 

He thought we were both selfish, and didn’t understand how our marriage worked.  He believed that we genuinely didn’t have common goals anymore, and hadn’t worked very hard to make each other important or even interesting to one another.  He believed that X was over my whole deal in New York, and I had stopped being interested in X’s life a long time ago.  There was distance, X was selfish, I was selfish, and things didn’t look good from his perspective.  But, ultimately, he didn’t know what was going on.

But he did know.  He knew about the affair, the whole time.  And, one month later, I discovered the truth through Ack and X’s Skype conversation.  They talked candidly about my husband’s love for “UKR”, as if it were the most common, known fact in the world.

Over the past three years, the truth about my ex-husband and the people with whom he surrounded (and still surrounds) himself has slowly, painfully come to light.  The betrayal that I felt in my broken marriage almost seems to have been doubled.  I am shocked and saddened at the massive, seemingly guiltless capability to lie, manipulate, deceive and destroy.

I have joked to close friends that if I ever see one of those boys again, I will cause a large scene.  I will obnoxiously approach him and screech,  “What’s up, DICK?!”

Then I think, What would Jesus actually — not Christianese-commercially —  do?

The answer is, He probably wouldn’t call someone a dick.

Sigh.  I struggle, to this day, with forgiving that cast of characters.

Yet.

When the mask of self-righteousness has been torn from us and we stand stripped of all our accustomed defenses, we are candidates for God’s generous grace.   -Erwin W. Lutzer (1941- )

K reached out to me when she learned of my separation.  We began to re-form our bond in the exact manner as it had begun: through written word.  I was overjoyed to rekindle a friendship that I thought had been destroyed.  When the opportunity presented itself, it only seemed fitting to jump on a plane, even just to hug my friend.

I spent several days with K in her warm, cozy home in northern Minnesota, and cherished every moment.   She has since re-married a wonderful, joyful, patient and loving man who simply adores her.

K and I laughed and cried together as the ugly scales of past hurts rapidly shed away.  The fragrant, yet crisp spring air was full of forgiveness and grace.

New healing had begun.

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