A divorce resembles death in many ways. It’s not just the metaphorical demise of a relationship, it’s what comes after that, the condolences, the bereavement, the questions, and reflections…they made me feel someone in our house had passed away. Again.
Divorce is actually a passing away of a life.
When someone dies, it doesn’t hit you at once, you can’t accept it suddenly. The acceptance comes with time, and till then, that person dies slowly, in bits and pieces. Like when we get rid of their clothes and belongings, when the official paper work is dealt with, when we see their knick-knacks around the house, the smell, the lingering presence. Just like the pale orange remnants of the sun that stays in the sky for the longest time as the dawn turns to dusk.
I remember when my father passed away and people came over to offer their condolences. We would sit through the ordeal of having to recall his demise again and again, and at every recollection the heart would bleed. Creating his image, his life, summarizing and condensing the events would feel strange, as if we were talking about an acquaintance. The mind used to work faster than the tongue. People would ask all sorts of questions, the curiosity could be a result of concern or care, but the timing was a little off, if only people could understand.
My mother faced a lot of uncertainty when her husband passed away suddenly. She had to somehow find the courage to go on. To live for herself, without him, yet for his children. A flow of life. Close friends and acquaintances had a lot of questions, ranging from finances, to emotional well being, about the future, the past, the present. The queries came like a tide, at times she felt she would be swept away, but she was rooted. I used to hear her weep at night, but by morning she mustered enough courage to face the day. I remember she didn’t know where to begin, how to start and what to leave behind. It was a like a room full of life with some expired items, some new boxes and some rusted furniture. She had to go through all of that, most if it, by herself.
Most marriages that end in divorce have valid reasons. The reasons will always be valid, but the sadness of something not working out remains. That ‘something’ is a dream that’s inculcated in us since we are young. As we grow, the dreams grow with us, in us. For girls, the handsome young suitor who will come and sweep you off your feet. The one who will take care of you, love you, respect you. The one you can trust your entire being with. The radiant glow on brides we see in wedding albums, the cherubic little faces that arrive after a happy union and strengthening of a bond. Girls are always told their parents’ house is not their own. Their home is where the husband is. If that’s the case then I wonder if some women will ever arrive at their home, their abode. For women whose marriage ended in divorce, where is home then? When a husband passes away, it’s the son. If the son or his wife don’t want the mother living with them, what happens then? Someone recently commented, a woman is incomplete if she doesn’t become a mother. Is that really true? If a woman is incomplete without marriage and children, then what becomes of her when she has neither? A hyphenated being, a traveler, an intruder or an unfinished painting?
Death and divorce, two strange sisters, two heads attached to the same body. Both leave people distraught in their wake. Death sentence given by God and the other one by Man. I guess death, a natural process, one ordained by God, gives you patience because there’s no other option. Death of a relationship, on the other hand, leaves a trail of unresolved issues, complexes, cultural and societal stigma, and doubts.
[quote]For women whose marriage ended in divorce, where is home then?[/quote]
Some people, who had come to offer ‘condolences’ after my divorce, asked my mother:
“Oh, so you didn’t do a background check?”
“No, we contacted the CIA but they didn’t have time for pre-marriage background check.”
I wish I had said that out loud.
Life is in pieces, yet again. It’s a solace that these days it’s not difficult for women to carve a path or to live independently. For those who come and ask me what I am going to do with my life now, as if ‘life’ is a bookshelf that can be assembled in half an hour, I know I have to pick up pieces, and make a whole again. To get over the pain, anguish and sadness of a deceitful marriage requires time. I never want to be misled again and to see life in a new light requires courage. To get over the dream that was once mine needs renewed hope. For my mother, beautiful memories of a caring partner gave her the strength to go on, for me, it was only disrespect, lies and deception. A relationship that was a facade for me, thrives for many I know. I see the joy, union, respect and fulfilled promises and I wonder if this concept will always be alien for me.
For now, standing in the middle of nowhere I must choose a direction to become whole again. To live for myself, for a change. But I do wonder if I, a woman, will ever arrive at a place called home.