Ten years ago today my parents’ marriage ended. The divorce was finalized months later, but today is the day my dad left suddenly and unexpectedly. I didn’t notice that today was that day until a friend emailed me this afternoon. She’s getting divorced too. That’s when I noticed the date and was like, Oh, right, October 9th. It must be National Divorce Day or something.
I’ve passed through many stages of adulthood. In my early twenties there was the Oh, wow, my friends are getting married! stage. Then came the Oh, wow, my friends are having kids! period. Now we seem to have entered the Oh, wow my friends are getting divorced! period. I’m not sure what stages will follow. Probably the Oh, wow, my friends are getting remarried! period, the Oh, wow, my friends are grandparents! period, and eventually the Oh, wow, my friends are dying! period. That’s a lot of exclamation points for all those periods.
I have at least three friends right now who are divorced or in the process of divorcing, plus one who just ended a serious, we-live-together, relationship. It’s sad, even if people break up for the right reasons. The divorce that broke my heart the most happened last year between two friends from high school with two little kids. I still remember how Guy would tease Gal in Mrs. Heimerdinger’s 6th period English class. How Gal went to the prom with someone else. How Guy and Gal got together in college. How they married when we’d fallen out of touch and how we got back in touch again after Facebook was invented. Guy and Gal would organize barbeques and Christmas cookie exchanges with friends. I’d come and feel like I had real friends, a real community. Knowing I had a long drive home after one gathering, Guy and Gal invited me to stay at their place for dinner. Kiddo sat in my lap and pointed to animals in a picture book, sounding out newly learned names in babyspeak. We ate sweet potato fries for dinner, all of us around the table, and it felt like a home. But that home doesn’t exist anymore.
I don’t know quite what to make of it, other than some things can be beautiful and precious because they don’t last forever. That nothing lasts forever, not people or relationships or even the planet where we act out all these dramas. Some day the sun will burn out and we’ll be left in the dark, but it did burn bright and beautifully for awhile, and maybe that’s all we can ask for.