Simply Solo Spotlight: A Nail in the Coffin
Today’s Simply Solo Spotlight is written by Mark Petruska from Mark My Words. This is Mark’s second guest post on Simply Solo (remember the very funny Tale of the Tattooed Grandma?). For this post, he took on the more serious subject matter of his divorce. I love this piece and hope you enjoy it too. I think we can all empathize with what Mark has been through. And be sure to check out his blog – I laugh out loud every time I read it!
Quick shameless plug: Do you have a story to tell? Advice to offer? Did you just have literally the worst date of your life and you must write about it? I’d love to have you as the next Simply Solo Spotlight! Contact me at: email@example.com.
A Nail in the Coffin
There’s a scene in When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan’s character calls Billy Crystal’s one night, crying inconsolably. Sally begs Harry to come over because she has just learned that her ex, Joe, is getting married. Harry rushes over to comfort her, one thing leads to another, and…well, it’s not about the sex so much as Harry’s surprise when he learns that Sally is upset over the impending nuptials. All along, she has professed to be “over” Joe, yet when she discovers he’s replacing her with somebody else through a legal ceremony, she breaks down.
Great movie, and as far as romantic comedies go, one of the few that truly appeals to me. I can relate to so much of what is happening in the film, right down to Harry’s infamous declaration that men and women cannot be friends because the sex always gets in the way. I have to reluctantly agree with him on that point in most cases. However, I’m not here to open up that can of worms, but rather to discuss the scene I mentioned above. Because I recently had a similar experience of my own.
I won’t go into all the sordid details of my marriage, but if you were reading the condensed version in Reader’s Digest it would go something like this: MEX (Mark’s EX, a/k/a high school sweetheart and wife of 14 years) slims down after years of struggling with her weight and, displaying a newfound confidence, hooks up with a coworker; Mark finds out, marriage ends. It’s a sad but not uncommon story. Could we have worked things out? Maybe, but at the time there was too much anger, and besides, we had both drifted apart over the years. Her infidelity provided an excuse to start fresh.
Our divorce was finalized in 2006, just a few days before Christmas. Ho-ho-ho, indeed. I missed MEX occasionally, but for the most part embraced my newfound bachelorhood. We had met when we were 17, so I had never really had an opportunity to be single before. It was a whole new world to me – a fun one, full of adventure (and, admittedly, a little scary at times). I was too busy enjoying myself to grieve much over my lost marriage.
And then, earlier this year, I received a jolt. It came in the form of a text from my son, who was at his mother’s house that week (we share custody of the kids equally, splitting weeks). MEX is getting married tomorrow!
This wasn’t exactly earth-shattering news. She and her boyfriend (the coworker she had shacked up with) had been living together for a while, and she’d had a ring on her finger for a couple of years. But their wedding date got pushed back many times, and there were continuous reports of trouble in paradise, so nobody believed their marriage was ever going to happen. In that regard, I was surprised – not only by the fact that it was actually taking place, but also by the suddenness of it all. And by my reaction to the news: I had my own Sally Albright moment. I didn’t break down in tears, but – for the first time since our marriage ended – I actually felt a sense of loss that was both deep and painful. Though I knew we’d never get together again – nor did I have any desire to – the fact that we couldn’t just made it all seem so final, the nail in the coffin that relegated our union to something truly buried six feet under.
I mourned that weekend. I couldn’t help but picture the MEX that I fell in love with way back when A Flock Of Seagulls were all the rage. Her expressive eyes filled with love for the boy she called “puppy;” her supple lips that I loved to kiss; her distinct laugh. My mind picked through a treasure trove of happy memories: a romantic walk on the beach where I drew a heart in the sand; stepping across the threshold of our first-ever apartment; my proposal tucked inside a fortune cookie; a promise to love ‘til death do us part’; the look on her face when she announced she was pregnant with our first child; the feeling in my heart when the news sank in…
I never cried, but the fact is, it hurt. Even though our marriage was irretrievably broken and I was, for the most part, happy and content, I still felt a strange sense of nostalgic remorse that weekend. We are two very different people, and divorce was the right choice for us both. I never regret the severing of our union. Yet, for all the pain and suffering of that last fateful year together, we did build a pretty good life, and to have it all go up and smoke will always be a bitter pill to swallow. I was naïve and thought she’d by mine forever. Turns out she wasn’t, and I think that will always sting a little. More than anything else, I was surprised by how hard I took the news. I didn’t think I was capable of feeling much emotion toward her, one way or another. I think it was good that I did. Cathartic, even.
Within a few days, I was fine. Everything feels normal again, and I no longer grieve over the fact that she has remarried. It’s as though I were reading a book and stuck on the last page. Now the chapter has officially ended, and I can shove that story back in the dusty old bookshelf where it belongs. Still, it’s nice to know that – for one brief, shining moment – I recalled all that was good about Us, and I felt again the power of a love that had long ago gone dormant. It validates our relationship. We were Real, once upon a time. And with memories to draw upon, a part of Us will always be real.