The beginning of 2017 was miserable. I had the worst hangover and was completely useless Jan. 1, 2017. Unlike myself, I drank in excess that New Year’s Eve.
I am not sure if I drank to hide how I was feeling, but those feelings lingered. I felt trapped. Empty. Moving through motions and living in a marriage that was doomed but I held it together for the sake of the kids, my family and god forbid anyone think that I didn’t have a perfect marriage.
The way I felt that first day in 2017 seemed to set the tone for the rest of the year, it was shit.
It’s funny how I always knew the doors were slowly shutting on this hopeless marriage. It took a major event to help me realize that there was so much life to live and love to be had.
In May, my dad passed away after years of battling liver disease and my world felt as if it were crashing down on me. I won’t forget the day he died. I flew from Virginia to Texas with both the kids, holding back tears the entire way. Our layover in Houston was slightly delayed and I felt like screaming for them to hurry up. I had to be there to see my dad… to say goodbye.
When we arrived at the airport, my son had peed himself and I had to change him, my aunt who picked us up seemed in a rush and she didn’t need to say anything… I knew. Dad’s health was declining fast and we needed to hurry. The drive to the hospital was quick, a security guard whisked me away as I settled the kids into my aunt’s office at the hospital — she worked there, my mom worked there too.
My dad was alive when I arrived. He couldn’t speak. He looked so frail. This man who was always bigger than life at 6-feet tall, broad shoulders, who gave the best hugs with his large arms wrapping you into him. He was my protector. He was my hero.
Before they wheeled him off to one final procedure, I had to give him a hug, a kiss, and say “I love you.” He blew a kiss at me and smiled with that twinkle in his eye he always had.
While we sat in the waiting area, my mom, brother and I nervously joked about the entire situation. My brother poked fun at the dress I was wearing, trying to hide how scary this entire situation was for us.
In those moments of nervous laughter, my mom suddenly jumped out of her chair and ran down the hall, my brother and I sat there looking at one another, “Do we follow her? What happened?”
In the hall my mom was falling into a nurse’s arms, the nurse, a friend of hers, kept telling her they were trying all they could.
A “code blue” had been called over the system and my mom heard it. It was my dad.
I imagined how many ‘code blues’ mom had heard in her 25-plus years working in that hospital, just down the hall from where dad coded. I imagined how she never thought that one of those codes would be for someone she had created a life with, whom she loved with all her being.
I had just seen him 15-minutes before and my sweet, loving, father died not too long after I saw him.
As we waited in a curtained off room, the same nurse kept running back and forth, reassuring us that he still had a pulse and they were doing everything they could to save him. The whole time was maybe 5-minutes but it felt like an eternity.
Finally, it wasn’t the nurse who came but but the doctor. The doctor knew my mom, probably passed her thousands of times in the halls they both worked in, had made small talk and seen one another at Christmas parties. He didn’t have any words. I got up and walked backwards. No. No. NO! Is all I could scream. I fell to my knees and bawled, screamed, dry-heaved. My world was ending.
When R came to Texas for the funeral he wasn’t the rock for me to lean on that I wished he had been. He was aloof. Barely embraced me. He just stared at me as I cried into my hands. I felt so much anger towards him then, more than ever. I wanted to ask him what the hell was going on with him but there were so many emotions I needed to deal with and dealing with my husband’s tangible distance wasn’t on my agenda.
In the coming months, R was reporting to work earlier and earlier and working later. We barely saw him. When he was home, he’d encourage my mom and I— my mom had moved in with us after my dad died — to go out and have a girl’s day. I’m not sure what he would do once he pushed us out of the house.
My mom offered to watch the kids so we could go on dates, but he always seemed like he was being forced to enjoy dinner and drinks with me. And it was a painful experience trying to get him to talk to me, we needed to drink. He needed to drink more and more. Everyday he came home, he’d pop open a beer and sit at the computer and drink until he went to bed.
He must have needed to numb himself to help him cope. Leading a double life can be hard work.
From my father’s death, came a complete sense of clarity but it took a few months to finally realize that it was time to close the door on a relationship that brought unhappiness and pain.
And even though it was R who initiated the separation, I agreed because I knew it was time to stop fighting something that would never be any better than what it had once been.
From the end of my marriage, I am realizing that I am worth so much more than what I was made to think.
Two major finalities marked my life in 2017 and as we embrace 2018, there’s a sense of relief and it’s exciting. I am ready for this new journey.
As much as I want to live in regret about “12 wasted years” in an unhappy marriage, I can’t say they were all unhappy. There were many teaching moments, many moments that wounded my entirety but gave me strength and I’ve grown be a very strong person.
Thank you, 2017. Thank you for all the devastation, all the pain, all the loss because I have learned and I’m not the same person I was Jan. 1, 2017.