Monday, May 11, 2015

Well, that was unexpectedly pleasant.

I am now officially a single person.

In terms of my day-to-day life, I have been for a while now.  But today it's legal and I'm back to the last name I was born with and it's all there in black and white.

Today J and I went for our final hearing.  It was a little bit alarming when the judge called us up and said, "so what is it that you're expecting from me today?"

"Uh, a final decree, Your Honor?"  I responded.

"But have you filed anything other than the initial petition?  I don't see any other documents."

"Yes, sir, we filed the financial disclosures with the petition, and then submitted our settlement agreement and parenting plan last week."

And after checking with the clerk, our documents were found and we were ready to go.

The hearing was pretty basic.  The judge reviewed the terms of our agreements, and then had us answer a series of questions, confirming that we understood what was in the documents and that we didn't have any unresolved issues that needed to be settled.  Neither of us is seeking alimony, we are in full agreement on all financial matters, and we are in full agreement with respect to the custody and care of the children.

It was us saying, "yes, sir ... yes, sir ... correct, Your Honor ... yes, sir ..." for about 10 minutes.  We were asked to swear that we believed that the agreements we had reached were fair and that everything relating to the children was in their best interests.  We swore.

The judge then pronounced our marriage dissolved.  But before he let us go, he had something he wanted to tell us.

He said that he wanted to thank us and to commend us for coming to court having agreed upon everything, and for coming to agreements, particularly relating to the children, that were so obviously carefully thought out, even-handed, and good for them.  Apparently, it's the rare divorcing couple who is able to do that, even though I truly cannot conceive of proceeding any other way.

"It's people like you who make my job easy, and who understand that the two most important people in this case are not the people in this courtroom, but rather are Ezekiel and Josephine.  It is clear that you have been able to put aside whatever issues you may have between the two of you and focus on them, and as a result, you have given them the best possible chance to grow up happy, healthy, well-adjusted, and secure in the love of both their parents."

I said, "thank you so much for saying that, Your Honor.  That's incredibly kind of you."

I thought he would dismiss us at that point, but he went on like that for another three or four minutes. It was really astounding.

For whatever reason, and even though there was nothing rational about feeling this way, I was very anxious before the hearing.  I wanted to be out of the marriage, and we've been de facto split up, including dividing the assets and living with the custody schedule, for ten months.  So nothing was happening today except a judge decreeing that what had already happened was official.  Even so, part of me was a little bit sad.  I don't like failing at anything.

But we both walked out of that court room on top of the world, feeling like we could proceed with our respective futures because we had dealt with our past in a compassionate, fair, reasonable way.

Not a bad Monday, all things considered.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

To life, to life, l'chaim, life has a way of confusing us, blessing and bruising us

Eighteen years ago today, I went on a blind date with a guy my chiropractor had set me up with.  We decided to go hiking up in north Georgia, and we took my dog Floyd.

I don't remember the guy's name or what he looked like, but I knew I would never see him again because of this exchange:

TOOL:  So, how was your week?  Anything exciting happen in your life?
ME:  Actually, it did.  I became an aunt for the first time.  My brother and his wife had a baby today.
TOOL:  Really?  That's great!  Is it a boy or a girl?
ME:  They had a little girl.  Her name is Emma.
TOOL:  Aw, that's too bad.
ME:  What?  What are you talking about?
TOOL:  Well, guys don't ever really want daughters.  Guys really want sons.
ME:  That's ridiculous.  They're thrilled to have a little girl.  The whole family is.

I had a good time on the hike because it was a beautiful day and Floyd was always good company, but I pretty much ignored my date for the rest of the day because I found him so insufferable.

Emma's arrival into the family was a day to be celebrated, and even though we only got her for 17 years, I'll never stop celebrating this day.

But the first one is so hard.  For the past few weeks, today's date has been looming.  We've all been strapped to the front of a hurtling cannonball, heading toward the side of a hard, rock-strewn mountain with no way to avoid the crash.

I've been crying, off and on, for what feels like forever.

I know that eventually, the grief won't be quite as raw.  It will never go away, but at a certain point, constantly feeling like your insides have been scooped out isn't sustainable.  There are children to raise, jobs to be done, experiences to be enjoyed.  Life has to be lived.  Emma knew that, and it would be a dishonor to her memory to let her death be an excuse for not living as fully as possible.

In Judaism, the number 18 has special significance, because the numerical values of the Hebrew letters that spell the word "chai" (pronounced with a hard gutteral "ch," not like the spiced tea) - life -  add up to the number 18.  Eighteen is the number of celebrating life.

I'm trying very hard to remember that today.