The house was quiet as we made plans over a meal of chicken pie and salad like a thousand other meals, during countless other storms, over more than two decades of married life.
The difference, of course, being that before this point all our plans had included each other.
I was emotional as the snow piled up outside, feeling the stress of the huge ending that was about to take place not only of the marriage, but of long established familiarity and the unspoken routine.
You get the plates, I’ll get the tongs. You open the wine, I’ll get the glasses. Like in the early years: you check on the kids, I’ll lock the door. All safe and sound in one life. But what happens when that life no longer fits?
No one makes a vow believing that the marriage will end. I certainly didn’t. Forever is a long, long time, and when you are in love, it isn’t long enough. But if the relationship changes, well who expected that? It’s a sucker punch to your hopes and dreams.
The end of my marriage has felt like a death even though the decision was made long before that winter leave-taking. But that doesn’t make it any easier, does it? I have been married for half my life. And I am still amazed that in less than two weeks it will be officially done.
The storms of February are long gone, and I’m adjusting to new routines. Some days have their challenges, believe me, and I’m wrestling an alligator as I learn to install toilet seats, fix the lawn mower, and even open the pool on my own.
I am dealing with my terror of snakes as I wander our ancient basement with a flashlight, checking oil levels and circuit breakers. And I’m wrangling with the bank to find a way to hang onto this place while working around the clock and caring for my youngest, who is here another year before college.
So, yeah, it’s been scary. And daunting. And hard. And once I got so mad I cried. But I’m also happy and peaceful, and excited about the future, feeling more like that scrappy South Shore Irish kid than I have in a while.
When Mindy and I launched this blog almost four years ago we were each on a quest for something we couldn’t quite name, something that was blaringly missing from our lives. Mine, as it turned out, was myself.
But change involved being willing to jump headfirst off a cliff in this, my one and only life, or stay on the ledge — safe and comfortable and full of regrets.
When I look back on my marriage I will find a way to remember and keep the best of it as I let the parts that didn’t work go. I’ll always be grateful for having had the chance to love and to be loved, and to have beautiful children who always light my way.
And though change brought a sad ending to the story, I am learning every day that it’s also bringing me the tools I need to write a wonderful new one, as well.