Sunday, April 13, 2014

A hunt, and a surprise

We went to Palm Sunday Mass and the Alumni Family Easter Egg Hunt at M's alma mater today. We tried to go last year but the event was snowed out. We had rain this year, but they hid the eggs in the hallway of the high school and the kids had a blast. By "hid" I mean someone threw a ton of plastic eggs down the main hallway and called it a day. M said, "It looks like the Easter Bunny had a blowout!"

While we were waiting for Mass to start, a man approached M and shook his hand. I waited a moment since I was helping Zozer fashion a cross out of her palm, and then stood up, extended my own hand and introduced myself.

He looked at me and smiled. "Amy, don't you recognize me? It's Will!"

Holy cow. It was Will. Will who had gone to high school with M, and college with both of us. Will for whom M stood up at his wedding. Will who was an usher in our wedding. Will who is now gray, balding, scruffy, and 40 pounds heavier. I grinned and apologized for not recognizing him, and he acceded that he doesn't look very much like he used to. "Or at all," I thought.

"How's Therese?" I asked. We hadn't seen them in so long and it would be great to catch up.

Will motioned with his hands, something similar to when an ump calls a baserunner safe. "She's gone." I assumed by his glee that his wife had not expired, but rather that they had separated. They had three children when Will figured out that he just didn't want to be bitched at any more. According to him, Therese had complained about how he cut the lawn, that he turned the porch light on when it was still too bright outside, and any number of things. They divorced and Will remarried, and he has two years left to pay alimony (which is why he's scruffy...he can't afford to buy blades for his razor). His new, blended family has six children, and his wife's name is Jennifer.

This is a lot of information to take in quickly, in the five minutes before Mass started. Will excused himself to return to his family and we sat down, stunned. I looked at M. "Did you know?" "No, I didn't know!"

We sat next to Will and Jennifer and their children after the egg hunt, while we all munched on doughnuts and waited for the Easter basket raffle winners to be called. It was awkward. I tried several times to start conversations, but got nowhere. Apparently they don't go on vacation, their kids aren't involved in sports, they don't have much of a connection with their parish, and Will doesn't keep in touch with anyone from high school or college. We know he works for Mitsubishi (something to do with air conditioners, but not air conditioners for cars), offices at home, and travels quite a bit. Over an hour breakfast, that's about as far as we got. M was largely silent unless spoken to, and he told me later he felt uncomfortable because everything he thought to say referenced Therese in some way. Will's three children look so much like Therese that I found myself staring at them, wondering what the hell had really happened. There are two sides to every story, you know.

So I guess this is how it starts. The cycle of divorce in our generation. We've been largely untouched by divorce in our circle. The disintegration of Will and Therese's marriage strikes a chord because their wedding was so near ours in the timeline. We were at theirs; they were at ours. It hits a little close to home. Who's next?

Later this afternoon, back at the house, I went to clean up the kitchen and thought about Will and Therese. And I thought about how I can't imagine getting to that point. I mean, M and I have rough times and we have fights discussions like every married couple, but we've never even considered a temporary separation, much less divorce. The worst of our fights discussions end with one of us leaving to drive around for a bit to cool off. (Driving is soothing for both of us.) But we always know we're coming back, and the person at home always knows the driver will eventually return. Our storms blow over quickly and we move on.

I looked around my kitchen, the kitchen that we designed and built, and thought about how much we've built together. How we could never have come this far individually, how my life is so intertwined with his that I don't know where I leave off and where he begins. And I can't imagine it any other way.

It makes me sad for Will and Therese, because of what they could have had and what they missed. There is a huge chunk of shared history that they won't ever be able to share with anyone else beyond telling one-sided stories that usually end with "I guess you had to be there." I'm not saying people should stay married for that - if it's over, it's over. I'm just saddened by the whole thing, mostly because I know how devastated I would be if I lost it.

M laughed at me tonight when I thanked him for not thinking I bitch at him too much. And I bit my tongue when he overshot the entrance to a parking lot by ten feet and had to oversteer to pull in (he does this regularly; it drives me crazy). We're both sitting on the couch now, me writing and him working on selecting a song for the next Christmas display. I couldn't be happier, although I wish that we could both kick this cold/flu/sinus crap we have going on right now. We may be stuffed up, coughing, hacking, wheezing, germy snotballs, but least we're together.

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