It was back to work after a four day weekend for us, observant Jews. I can't say that I missed work, but I wasn't dreading it either. As I was waiting for the train, all of a sudden I saw a familiar face, someone I haven't seen in a while. After his obligatory, "How's everything, how are the kids? You still got two?", and my obligatory, "Thank God, everything is fine, yes we still got two, and you guys?" an uncomfortable silence followed. The guy said, "You might not know, but we (another uncomfortable silence) split." I probably looked shocked because he added, "It's okay. It was a while ago, about two years now." And then went on about how he still has a relationship with his daughter, that he sees her during the week and every Shabbat. How he is looking to get remarried, and that he already started going out. The guy who was always very cheerful and with a smile on his face, seemed beat and a bit depressed. Our conversation was interrupted by the oncoming train. My friend offered to go to the first car with him, but I declined. I just could not bear having this conversation any longer.
The first time I found out that someone close to me was having marital difficulties and subsequently got a divorce, I cried for a good half hour the minute I hung up the phone. I couldn't calm down for about a week. This time I think I coped a bit better; not being in the privacy of my own home helped avoiding tears that still welled up in my eyes. I still remember the couple's wedding: how happy they seemed, how hard my friends and I went out of our way to show up at least for half an hour because it happened on the same night as our classmate's. No, these two weren't a couple that seemed rock solid simply because I didn't know them very well, but they both seemed to be very nice people and really fond of each other. And yes, they seemed a bit mismatched, but isn't every couple to some degree a bit mismatched?
For whatever reason, I take these news hard. The minute I got to work, I called my sil. I just had to talk to someone. Though in many respects she is a more sensitive person than I am, sil was taken aback by my reaction. After all, the agony is gone. They have been apart for two years. The fact that I just found out doesn't make it harder for them. So why am I so upset?
It's hard to explain. For one, it isn't supposed to happen. Happily ever after is rarely blissfully and problem free happy, but it still is ever after, right? At least it's supposed to be. Once you go through the chupah, you shouldn't be looking for someone else five years down the road. And divorces shouldn't happen to nice people. And little girls (and boys) aren't meant to see their fathers only on week ends. Not in my world. Not in my universe. (I almost want to say "Not on my watch", but think it might sound stupid. At this point I am already crying because I am in the privacy of my own home...)
The saddest scene I have ever had to witness happened about five years ago, when I was getting my nails done for my date with SubHub, at this point only a potential Hub. I was completely and utterly bored and looked out the window. I saw a man and a girl. The girl wanted to get a ride on one of those mechanical ponies that some owners put outside of their stores. The man put a girl on the pony, put a quarter in and turned my way. I realized that I knew him; he was recently divorced. It hit me that it must be his week end date with his daughter. While the girl was completely consumed by the pony ride, the father seemed to be unable to get enough of her: he would constantly touch her hair, pat her hand, fix her dress and hug her. The man couldn't look at anything else around him except his little girl. I had to turn away, it was too painful to watch. I have never been able to tell this story without getting choked up. I can't even put it on my blog without doing so.
No, divorces are not supposed to happen. Yet they do... I do realize that there are times when divorce is the best option for everyone involved, children included. I realize this with my head, but my heart refuses to accept that and stubborn tears do not want to dry up...