Little deaths, like shockwaves after an earthquake, ripple outwards from tragedy. It is myriad of things that no longer exist and won’t again in the capacity they did. Everyone’s tragedies are different and the little deaths that follow will interrupt your exit from work, keys in hand as you start to shake holding back tears.
That’s The Telling, the moment when an emotion you weren’t expecting clocks you out of nowhere, it says, “Oh hey, remember me?”. It is something you probably haven’t fully worked through. Those moments, I think, that pinprick the most, good and bad. Today it was a sudden burst of overwhelming sadness to going home to an empty house — well, almost empty, I got a dog last week. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s a holiday weekend and my children are spending most of it with their dad. When people are trekking home via plane, bus, or piling their families into vans for a holiday road trip to see grandparents, I am driving home alone taking myself out to eat Thai.
I have a wonderful life filled with smiles, laughter, art, the logic of a toddler, exercise, good friends, good books, and the company of an impressive gentleman who lives over a thousand miles from me. I often enjoy the times I have alone, to decompress in the quiet and do what I like. I take myself on dates. I text people reminding them that someone cares about them. I communicate constantly with my gentleman. But, some of the time, I am lonely. Holidays are especially difficult. I find myself experiencing little deaths over and over of things that used to be. For example, I used to be a part of a large family that all live locally and with whom I visited frequently. Now, I am not. They are cordial but distant. It is just me, my children, and a parent with whom I have a strained relationship that lives across town. The remaining family I was born to do not live in my state, or even neighboring states. They are scattered across the country far and wide rarely meeting all in one place.
I’d venture a guess that most divorced single parents go through this, the little deaths, the little things that pop up that we must periodically mourn the losses of. And The Tellings that bite. I’m sure there are some of you who know what it feels like to come home from a long day at work and miss the falling into someone’s lap. Not necessarily missing the person that used to be there, but the space that person occupied. The representation of that body. Knowing that when you come home you wouldn’t have to do absolutely everything on your own. Knowing you could escape for a few moments while your person occupied the kids. And that you could return the favor. Making mutual decisions. Celebrating milestones. Getting excited for holidays, family gatherings, date nights, and not having to drive. A simple fucking touch at the base of your neck.
Just as a forest ravaged by wildfire will never be the same forest, the family I had will never exist again, not in that capacity. The forest will sprout new growth, and over time the evidence of the damage will diminish. Despite the sadness that sometimes forces me to walk too slow through the dusty corridors of my former life, I am hopeful. I believe in the magic that is love and that love sustains me through the little deaths. I may someday find that being alone isn’t so lonely. Or maybe I’ll find I belong in another family. Or maybe I’ll have a group of friends someday that actually all know each other and get together like a big family would. Until then, I’m sitting here choking back tears, listening to Nothing But Thieves, yelling “Where do you keep finding stuff to chew on?!”, “NO!”, “Get your rope!” and “It’s unholy how fluffy you are!”.