First Rain of the Season
Once upon a time, I was a homeowner. But we sold our home in 2001. I've moved three times since then. Two times with my family, from one single-family dwelling to another, and the last time to an apartment - but not with the whole family - only with my daughter. My husband had aleady moved on to his own place. And in the past year, my daughter has flown the coop as well. It's just me now.
Divorce can kill a family - but then, the family was already dead to begin with. Isn't that the way it works? But it's not that the family is really dead - the couple is dead and the family is in transition - the family is transforming itself. This is true, and yet it's not. These are words we use to comfort ourselves, because whether we recognize it not - the family is based on the couple. That's what people forget - the couple come first - without it there would be no family.
But we simply tell ourselves the family is dead. The family as we knew it - mother, father, children. That's dead. Now we reshape, while clinging to the myth - to the father-knows-best and the mother-always-has-the-right-answers version of family - only they are not under the same roof any more. Yes, even with divorce, there is still a mother and father and children, but it's different. And the difference hurts, even though one child is out of the house and the other is soon-to-be.
Children hurt. But the parents do too. Nobody thinks about that.Oh, the cost of divorce for the children. But the children are only paying because the parents are. What does it cost a woman or a man to call it quits? It's a pricey option and I'm not talkin' finances here. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the other costs.The price of seeing the one who knows you best - or at least used to know you best - slip away. The price of losing history, longevity. And the price of the future - the future you won't have. And that includes not just the everyday moments, but the milestones, the special gatherings. The holidays. The holidays that become conundrums (who goes where - who is most fragile - who is the favorite?), the everyday moments that are lost as the children, whether dependent or independent try to understand the new configuration - whose side shall they take? Who needs them more? Whom shall they choose at any given moment, for any given reason?
And then there's the parents. How easy must they make this for the children - whether grown or not? How much do they set aside their needs, desires, feelings - to smooth it over. "Oh, it's alright honey, I understand. You need to spend Thanksgiving with your father....Don't worry, I'll be with your auntie and grandmother." And yet, deep in your heart, you want nothing more but to have your family, ALL your family, gathered round the dining room table that groans with the weight of food, and china, silver, crystal, shimmering candles, and the faded turkey cut-out placements your children made years ago, when they were small. And those placemats don't seem to mean as much any more because the your children's father isn't there at the table as well. Sitting at the opposite end, passing the cranberry relish, telling the same old turkey leg joke that always, always evokes the eye-rolling of one child and the chuckling of another. No, you have to create new jokes, new traditions, new meanings.
And all this from the rain pelting on the pavement, and candles flickering on the balcony, and the wavering, quivering reflection of streetlights, stoplights, and carlights in the rain. And the smell of water mixing with oil - the first rain of the season - filled with regrets. Filled with what-could-have-been and what-might-be, and what absolutely isn't.
No, it's only rain. That's all. Rain falling on the pavement. As it does every year. No significance in that.