On May 17, 1978, I walked into our kitchen and sat down on the right side of the table. My mom was sitting on the left side – her usual spot over the past 15 years.
She started to cry. I had seen her very emotional in the same room and the same kitchen table countless times before. After taking a drag of her cigarette, she put her face into her other hand.
“Mom, what’s wrong?” I knew it was about dad.
“Today, our divorce is final.”
Years of turmoil in the making, the day had finally come.
“Isn’t that a good thing? It’s finally over, right?”
The fights, the yelling, the tears, and all the negativity. My view was that of relief for her. I wanted to understand.
“Don’t you see?! My marriage is over! I’m just sad.”, her voice tailing off.
“Michael, your father and I were married over 20 years and this is a big deal – even though it may be the right thing to do doesn’t make me any happier that it happened.”
I was beginning to get the picture. She was in mourning; the questions, the second-guessing, a struggle to undo the wrongs of the past. What could she have changed, even if she could? Where was HER happy ending and would it ever come to her.
“I’m sorry, Mom…is there anything I can do?”
“No, I’m just glad you here. I’ll be fine – it will just take some time to get used to the idea.”
My dad had left on January 6, 1976, but here it was twenty-eight months later and Mom was coming to grips that this part of her life was over and uncertainty of the future was enveloping her.
Her mother had been diagnosed with cancer late in the fall of 1976. When Mom wasn’t working, she was taking care of my grandmother. All of the conflicting emotions were taking their toll.
The divorce decree was just another milestone that tried my mother’s fortitude.
Other trials were on the dark horizon, and today was hers. We all need time to mourn a death, whether we knew it was coming, and if it was a blessing blessing or curse. I let my mom have her mourning period but stayed close by because I knew she needed me.