Yesterday afternoon I was on Facebook and happened to see my ex-husbands daughter’s post. She wrote that her dad had died the day before, on December 18. What to feel when you learn that your ex has just died?
A bevy of emotions flashed and flickered. I had to read it over and over again to make it real.
Last night and this morning, I have been waiting for some form of grief to hit me. But I’m beginning to think that I went through my grieving period a long time ago.
He was a person who loomed over my life, off and on, since my mid-twenties. I never went more than a few days without thinking about him whether we were apart or together.
And I was turning 40 when he contacted me after a ten year period of no communication. I struggled not to feel anything. But he said all the right things. He kept calling. Kept telling me how much I meant to him.
For a girl who never had a father, must less one who told me he loved me, it was heavenly to hear. To have him keep telling me that it was always me in his heart sent whatever caution I had to the wind.
It was like a fairy tale for awhile. But it was also complicated. The feelings had not died. A year later we married.
It was not a good marriage. My dreams were dashed fairly quickly.
Still I hung on. For years I hung on with it slipping through my hands no matter how hard I clutched onto the rope of that dream.
Later I realized it was never really a dream. It was a delusion.
I remember once I asked him if he was afraid to die. And he replied: “No. Who would want it to just go on and on and on.” I had no idea what to say to that. What a curious answer, I thought.
We never spoke of it again. Until at the end he said: “I will have the pleasure of knowing I outlived you. I will have the pleasure of knowing you are dead.”
I guess I am in shock in a way. Does that mean I should let go of any anger I might still have? We were divorced, but since he was the last man I had a relationship with, I feel in some ways widowed.
I have looked for his obituary online, but maybe it’s too soon. I don’t even know for sure what city he lived in. But I want to read that obituary to know that it is truly real.
All I wanted after the divorce was to be as far away from him as I could get.
Just a few days ago, this strange idea came into my head. I thought: What if he came to find me again? And then I started wondering how easy it would be to track me. I started thinking of the locks on my door.
I don’t know where that came from. But it slipped away as suddenly as it occurred, those out-of-nowhere fears. I had no reason to have such thoughts, because apparently he was dying or had already died.
I feel bad that I don’t feel more than I do. Because he was the man I loved more than any other.
He caused immense pain. I don’t think you can feel that depth of emotional pain without loving that person. But I know I must have hurt him too.
Seven years have passed since the divorce. I have made a good life for myself. Financially I will lose half of an annuity we shared. So it will have an impact on me. But I will still be able to get government benefits later on.
In seven years I have learned so much about life and about myself. I have mourned the pets we shared. Two cats we had have died, then Abi died just this year. All I have left of that life with him is Charlie boy. And I’m doing all I can to keep him going.
I am sorry for his children, even his wife. For the grandchildren who will likely not remember him. I couldn’t break the habit of occasionally checking on his children through social media.
But I have come a long way. And the memories are there, but they are fading, the good and the bad. They are tendrils of leftover feelings from another time and place.
I sit in front of my little Christmas tree and the black stove and I am happy. Contentment took the place of fear and pain some time ago. I have what I need. I have Charlie and Ivy here with me.
What I know is this: A person I once loved deeply has stopped breathing. I will never hear his voice again. Never again see the hands that I always thought were so beautiful.
I’m a bit sad. But is it terrible to say that I’m a little bit relieved?
I guess now there is a period at the end of the sentence that was our relationship. We were married, we were divorced, and now one of us has died. It doesn’t get more final than that.
I never hated him, though I wanted to. Now I know I forgave him a long time ago and it just never really registered until now.
I mourn what was. An extremely intelligent man who also happened to be deeply flawed. He had so much promise, but there were demons that walked in his footsteps. And they chased me until I could take it no more.
I am what is left. And I will make the most of life. I am sad that someone I deeply loved is gone.