Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Final Curtain

So, tomorrow is my court date.

Evidently, I have to show up, take the stand and state that yes, I want a divorce. I guess I have to confirm that I agree with all of the other stuff in all the stacks of papers that have been prepared for the court's consideration. According to the lawyer, all of this will take just a scant few minutes, then I will be dismissed, signed decree in hand. And then it will be over.

All of it.

Which is kind of stunning, really.

It's hard to believe that it can all be distilled down to a stack of paper, but it can. In the end, evidently it comes down to dollars and logistics, and who has the insurance, and which weekends the children will be here or there.

Very cut and dried.

Of course, I know it's more than that. What happens tomorrow morning is a formality. It's not the whole story, but it does mark a moment in time. To the rest of the world, the moment before I take the stand, I will be married, and the minute I leave the stand, I won't be. To the rest of the world, the divorce will be "officially" final tomorrow morning, even though in MY head, the marriage has been over for a much longer time. But, despite my feelings, I am bound by the tangible.

The papers.

The judge's signature.

The date.

Everyone around me is similarly tied to these things. They rely upon them to mark time and put things in order, and make sense of things. I find myself trying to remember that people around me are dealing with news that is seemingly brand new. To them, I will be divorced tomorrow.

They will expect me to mourn. To grieve. To wear sackcloth and ashes, maybe. It's a bit like attending a funeral for someone that has long since passed. While those around me are weeping, there I sit, seemingly unaffected.

Truth is, my mourning happened privately and it happened quite a long time ago.

This admission has brought about a range of reactions from friends and loved ones . . .

"Why didn't you ever tell me?!"
"How could this be? I saw you, and I never noticed anything!? You looked happy . . . "

And they are right. I tried to look happy. It's what I do. I appeared to be happy when I wasn't, and I kept things hidden that they feel I should have shared.

But I didn't.

I had my reasons, of course. I didn't want to hash through what was going on with me with my family or my friends. They all had their OWN problems, and there always seemed to be much larger issues to address that eclipsed my marital problems. There wasn't any room to introduce more problems into the mix. What could they have done except worry?

Maybe if I had, they would understand this more now. Maybe if I had told my family and friends the truth, I would have found out that people would have supported me. Maybe, but maybe not. And when you divulge problems to people, you have to be prepared to DO something, and I wasn't ready to make the changes that I have now made. The heartbreak took time for me to work through, and it took time for me to finally realize that the marriage was over, and mourn that, and heal from it.

More than likely if I had told the truth, the people that loved us as a couple couldn't have continued to love us both. Sides would have been chosen, and that's the last thing I ever wanted.

What I wanted was to part amicably and retain my OWN dignity. And his. And my childrens'. And I wanted to do it in a way that caused the least trauma and heartache for them.

What I'm trying to say is that I think we all do things in our own time. And sometimes, to people on the outside, what you see, and when you see it, and what's tangible isn't the whole story.

I'll be divorced tomorrow.

On paper.

But for me, things didn't happen in a logical order. I didn't follow a linear path to get here. It didn't all happen this month, or even this year.

The tears dried a long time ago and the scar on my heart barely shows now. Today, I have a smile on my face and renewed hope and love with a man that shares my vision of a happy future.

Regrettably, that makes some folks very angry.

I guess that's the price you pay for keeping a secret.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rita's Warm Barley and Tomato Salad

Did you ever play this when you were little? Kind of like London Bridge, where you hold hands and one kid is chosen for the middle then a second partner is chosen and you all act out the words of the song?

Oats, peas, beans and barley grows,
Oats, peas, beans and barley grows,
You nor I nor anyone knows,
Where oats, peas, beans and barley grows.

Thus the farmer sows his seed.
Thus he stands and takes his ease.
He stomps his foot and claps his hand
And turns around to view the land.

I’m waiting for a partner.
I’m waiting for a partner.
So open the ring and choose one in
And kiss her as she enters in.

Now you’re married, you must be kind.
Now you’re married, you must be kind.
Now you’re married, you must be kind
So take your kiss and walk away.

- - - - - - - - - - -

I went to an afternoon party this past Saturday and on a lark, made a warm salad for the table. Wasn't sure if anyone would like it, but apparently they did.

I promised to post the recipe, so here 'tiz!

Enjoy . . .

Rita's Warm Barley and Tomato Salad

  • 3 cups prepared barley
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil - dipping quality
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (jarred is best)
  • Kosher salt (2 tsp, more or less)
  • 1 cup green onions, white and green parts, chopped fine (1 bunch).
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro leaves (use mint if you don't like cilantro)
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half. (Carrot or cucumber are good additions, too, but optional)
  • 1 tall bottle of capers, drained (substitute a jar of black olives, drained, if you prefer)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the still-warm cooked barley, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt. Mix well, but gently.

Fold in the green onion, capers, tomatoes and cilantro and serve warm. Really nice spooned into pita pockets, too!

Allow refrigerated leftovers to return to room temp for best flavor, and you might also have to drizzle some additional oil.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Editor's Note: When I originally posted this in May, 2004, I had no idea what my own mother would face in the 18 months to follow. In a span of about 12 months, she lost her home, her husband (my father) had a yearlong hospitalization and became wheelchair bound, and she was diagnosed with terminal metastatic breast cancer of the bone.

In July 2005, I left her hospital room and prepared myself to say goodbye to her within 3 months.

In December 2005, we all gathered around the Christmas tree to watch the kids open presents and to celebrate her remission.

Through it all, she has maintained her sweet disposition, and continues to be a source of strength for me.

As she has always told me, "Believe the diagnosis, ignore the prognosis."


I only hope to be half the mom that she is.

I love you, Mama.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Natalie Merchant

They say I must be one of the wonders
Of god's own creation
And as far as they can see they can offer
No explanation . . .

- - - - -

May 2004

I have had the nicest Mother's Day, and it isn't even over yet.

Yesterday, I had a day out with my daughter Rachael. She is 8 this year.

She and I took her baby brother to his grandmother and left for a few hours of shopping. We had some time on the way to talk about Mother's Day. My daughter never tires of hearing about the day she was born, how I decided on her name, and other tidbits of her early days.

She could barely contain her excitement when we parked in front of the strip shopping center. My daughter is just beginning to discover her taste. She adores the occasional trip to the Limited Too , and it tickles me to see her carefully considering purchases and shopping the sales racks (good girl!) She decided to try on a little top and skirt, and carefully approached the dressing room with me in tow. I was fighting the images that were flashing in my mind . . .

As she stretched to hang her choices on the hook in the dressing room and steadied herself with one hand against the mirror, I thought about laying on the delivery table, draped, as a team of doctors and nurses attended her birth.

Doctors have come from distant cities
Just to see me
Stand over my bed
Disbelieving what they're seeing

As she slowly bent down to remove her shoes, slowly pulling her shoes off, I remembered the blinding lights of a little suitcase bed delivered to our house to fight her jaundice, and the little velcro strip she wore across her eyes to protect them from the harsh glare.

Watching her struggle to steady herself as she stepped into a little skirt, I remembered the years of therapy that she had endured to walk, to talk . . .

We were in the dressing room for better than 10 minutes, but it was a proud little girl that looked back at her from the mirror, dressed in a very pretty summer tanktop and matching skirt.

With purchases made, we decided that lunchtime was fast approaching. She opened her little purse to reveal that she had found a Sweet Tomatoes coupon (my favorite) and wanted to take me to lunch. She had a little stack of dollar bills that she had carefully counted earlier, and she was so pleased to be able to invite me.

There were a couple of people that impatiently waited behind us as she pushed her tray along the salad bar, carefully choosing and scooping "salad" (corn, chickpeas, pickles, raisins, sunflower seeds, and broccoli) onto her plate. It took her awhile to get to the end, retrieve silverware, and tell the cashier that she would like to pay for us both. The women behind us that had been silently urging us to hurry stopped in their tracks when they heard her speak . . . her halting speech and trembling hand put them in their place better than my angry, she-tiger look ever could.

People see me
I'm a challenge to your balance
I'm over your heads
How I confound you and astound you

I remembered the meeting with her neurologist years ago, gently breaking the news to me that she might never acquire the life skills she would need to live independently as she was counting the bills and change into the cashier's hand. Her face was beaming, angelic, when the cashier commented on how pretty she looked, and how nice it was that she was taking her mother out for lunch. One of the young men that worked there offered to carry her tray, and I was thankful that it seemed to be a service offered to all, and not something that only she required. She hates being singled out, and generally does everything in her power to complete things herself, but this day, she indulged.

Lunch was such fun . . . we shared muffins and tasted each other's soups ( she wasn't crazy about the vegetable, but particularly liked the chili).

We talked about the gifts she had selected for her grandmothers, those women that had been pillars of strength for me during the dark days when I wasn't sure how I would ever be able to handle all that I had been given with her birth.

Their hopes for her never wavered, even when I would gently report back discouragements from the multitudes of doctor visits and therapy sessions.

O, I believe
Fate smiled at destiny

Laughed as she came to my mother
Know this child will not suffer

Laughed as my body she lifted
Know this child will be gifted

She excused herself from the table to go to the ladies room . . . alone. While I waited for her to return, I decided that today was a day of celebration, that I could look back and remember the early days without feeling the pain and the fear anymore. That I could sit here with her now, her beautiful little face full of hope and promise, and I could share in that with her, without reservation. That I could now look forward to her life, its struggles, its victories. That I could resurrect my expectations of what she could become.

With love, with patience and with faith
She'll make her way
. . .

For alot of people, just another day, but for me, the day surpassed my wildest dreams.

Happy Mother's Day.

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