So the funeral yesterday was just as you'd think it would be: sad. Sad beyond belief. That kid had so many people there, the church was as packed as it is on Christmas Eve. I'll be delighted if I get 1/4 that amount at my farewell.
As expected, it was difficult to see so many people hurting. My heart still aches as I think about the faces of his parents, his sister, his cousins. But at the same time, I feel joy in my heart for how lovingly this child will be remembered, for how much love and happiness he left his family with. What an impact he made on this planet in just 13 short years.
At one point, the people whom I assumed were his parents got up and spoke. I was in awe, in disbelief..how could you even form a sentence when wracked with so much grief? They spoke lovingly of their son, shared sweet memories, funny stories...gave us just a taste of what life with this boy must have been like. Although they were divorced, they presented the church and the mourners in it with a united front. "We are all one family" they declared.
After the funeral I discovered that those weren't his parents...those were his step-parents. Of course. Even though they surely loved this boy, perhaps their grief was just a tidge less deep than that of the boy's "real" parents. They let their spouses speak for them, and when I heard that, I had even more admiration for this child's family.
And it got me thinking.
Could Big Daddy and I have done that? God forbid, I know. But, really? Could we?
I don't know.
I have come across some divorced couples who have what is most commonly called an "amicable" relationship. I don't know why this word is paired with divorce and its aftermath so often, but it does pop up with great frequency when one starts delving into the topic.
When I meet people who are divorced, and who have this amicable thing going on, I'm always impressed. Always. I wish more than anything that my kids had parents who could stand around at events and games, stand within touching distance and be civil to each other. I wish they had parents who could call each other up to discuss something kid-related, just to keep each other in the loop. I wish they had parents who could sit in the same bleachers or pews or row of seats in an auditorium and present that "united front".
But my kids don't have that. And I'm partly to blame.
When Big Daddy first left, we did have an amicable relationship. We'd talk on the phone, when he began picking the kids up for visitation he'd come to the door or I'd walk out to chat for a minute. I even called him when I felt a freak-out coming on, he actually dropped what he was doing and came over to talk to me.
Then, I found out about the lies. The cheating. The indiscretions, the hidden stuff, the sneaking around behind my back. The other woman. I didn't find out about it all at once, like someone dumping a giant wheelbarrow of woe over my head. That would have been easier, I think. But no. These bits of information came at me one at a time, like a slow-motion shower of tiny, poison-tipped arrows piercing my flesh, my heart, my soul... one by one.
By the time I knew pretty much everything, I wanted nothing more to do with him. I wanted to wash my hands of him, bleach my memories and pretend as though my children had just shown up on my doorstep one day, anonymous donations from an unknown source.
But of course, that wasn't possible. In most cases with kids, at some point it's inevitable. You will cross paths with your ex. You will need to communicate with each other, whether it be via phone or text or email or carrier pigeon. And if you live in the same small city? Hooo boy. You will see each other, you will run into people who know your kids but don't know you, you will see the other person's car parked in a spot only a few cars away from yours and you will have to use every bit of sense you have left in your head to not key the word "ASSHOLE" or "PRICK" on it (totally kidding. Okay, mostly kidding. I preach non-vandalizing means of coping, bitches).
You will run into the new person in their life. Your friends will run into them. I remember a call I received one day not long after Big Daddy and Skankenstein tied the knot: "OMG, guess who I just ran into at Byerly's?" she said. After I guessed correctly, she went on, "Wow. She's not what I expected. I didn't know whether to offer them congratulations or condolences." You simply can't avoid it.
There will be contact.
So after I realized how long I'd been played for a fool, and how deeply he'd been undercover with the Secretary, I simply decided to keep our contact and communication as sparse as it could be. Emails are usually short and to the point (unless I am suffering from wine flu or PMS, both of which have been known to cause long, vitriolic rampages) . Phone calls have fallen by the wayside. I kind of miss those, to be honest. His ringtone is "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" and I like that song. He waits in his car, in the driveway, when picking up the kids. When we have to be at the same event, we sit as far away from each other as possible. Whoever has to leave the event empty-handed is allowed to bid adieu to the child/children at hand, and then does that awkward, solo walk out to the parking lot. The singleton in a sea of families.
Could we be friends? I don't think so. I think too much damage has been done. Certainly, if one of my girlfriends had shit all over me like he did, we would not be friends. In fact, if one of my friends did to their spouse what Big Daddy did to me? I don't know if I could continue to be part of that friendship.
Because I don't think what he did was right. What he did was cruel. It was destructive. It was like a natural disaster hit me and the kids and the jury is still out with their verdict on whether or not we'll ever be 100% again.
Let's play pretend, though. Just for a bit, let's pretend that he manned up before cheating. Before renting his apartment while "out getting coffee" one Saturday afternoon. Let's pretend that Big Daddy chose to be an adult, a husband, a responsible human being and instead of doing all that crap behind my back, came to me and discussed it. Put it out there. Would our marriage have survived? Doubtful.
But we would have had better odds of becoming one of those Amicable Divorced Couples. Because I'm almost certain that those divorced people who do get along, who will sit on the same set of bleachers or row of folding chairs...those people weren't involved in any marital espionage. They had problems in their marriage. They talked about it, they mutually agreed that it wasn't going to work.
They both had a say in it.
I also think that most of the people who do deal well with each other are not engaged in any financial fisticuffs. If Big Daddy would pay what he owes, if he'd throw me a bone every now and then, the wall of bitterness and animosity that has built up between us would maybe erode a little. There is something so dehumanizing, so utterly humiliating about having to beg the father of your children to help out with their upbringing. It doesn't exactly inspire warm, "hey buddy!" thoughts.
I'm hopeful that with all the things in the near and not-so-near future that will require us to be in the same zip code (graduations, celebrations, weddings, but please oh please God no funerals), we will somehow be able to get to the point of civility. I'm hopeful that someday I can see him and not feel that white-hot stab of pain in my chest like I do now, that eerie phantom pain of a knife in my back.
Of course, I'm also hopeful that some night I'll hear a knock on my bedroom door and it will be a liquored up, half naked Alec Baldwin. I'm optimistic like that.
And Secretary? Ha. Men who are unfaithful to their wives can be classified as sadistic, the women who knowingly pursue a married man? They're in a whole 'nother league of awfulness. I can see trying to have some semblance of a public relationship with Big Daddy, but with her, there is no obligation. No requirement. No desire.
People in the divorce world like to throw around little platitudes and sage sayings. One of them is this:
"You have to love your children more than you dislike your ex."
I'm trying. Honest to God, I'm trying.
But he isn't making it easy.