Illustration: ©2015 Sherry Caris

Dilly

My first husband, Dilly, materialized when I was four or five. He was of slight stature — so slight, in fact, that I was the only person who could actually see him.

I have no recollection of the day he entered my life nor do I have any memory of his subsequent departure a few years later. I only know, that he was a constant presence in my life for that brief time and that he caused me no end of aggravation and regret.

We were an unconventional couple for 1961. I went to nursery school, preparing for our future, while Dilly’s job was to hold down the fort — an imaginary house-husband. His duties were simple. Put my toys away and prepare dinner in the invisible kitchen in my bedroom.

When I arrived home from school each day, I would enter my bedroom with a cockeyed optimism that these two simple responsibilities had been carried out. And each day that optimism transformed into bitter disappointment, followed by a vitriolic diatribe launched at Dilly, berating him for his laziness and ineptitude.

“I work hard at school all day and when I come home I expect there to be dinner on the table and a clean house! You are SOOO lazy!”

Like most abusive spouses, I was quickly overcome with feelings of deep remorse and guilt. And every night I secretly prayed to a God I wasn’t sure even existed to forgive me and promised that I would never yell at Dilly again. But like most dysfunctional relationships, the cycle of abuse continued until one day Dilly just disappeared into the ether.