|View from a lighthouse in Edgartown|
Last Saturday afternoon, the sun was shining on Martha’s Vineyard, a preppy, swanky island off the coast of Massachusetts. I sat on a hard pew in a Catholic church among my old crew from high school, waiting for Maureen, one of my oldest friends, to walk down the aisle.
The music transitioned. The parents of the bride and groom. The flower girls. The maid of honor.
My stomach was slowly starting to knot.
Then Maureen, on her father’s arm. They glided down the aisle as the music swelled. She was beautiful, and not because of her gown. She was full of joy, optimism, dreams, thanks to her love for her groom, Jason.
I once felt that way. Now I was sitting here alone (and without tissues, dammit).
The readings from the Book of Whatever began and the knot in my gut moved up to my throat. Max and I had a Catholic wedding. We had readings from the Book of Whatever.
I couldn’t sit there anymore. I had to leave.
I slipped out of the church into the sunshine and hurried across the street to a bench. The tears welled in my eyes as I thought about five years ago, when I was engaged, so full of hope for my marriage.
Look at how that turned out.
I hung my head. Five years ago I was preparing to walk down the aisle on my parents’ arms, and today I sit here divorced and alone. What bullshit!
Then, I told myself it was also bullshit to sit here wallowing. Shake it off, Kat, and get your ass back inside.
I did it. I was in time to hear a few more words from the priest before Maureen floated back down the aisle, this time on the arm of her beaming new husband. They were so happy. Though I still ached a bit, I am so happy I didn’t miss that moment.
So then we headed to the reception. It was at a picture perfect golf course. I mean, you wouldn’t even believe how lovely everything was. I grabbed a glass of champagne and smiled to myself. I figured I was in the clear since I’d already gotten weepy at the church, so time to just enjoy this celebration.
Of course, I was wrong.
Divorce just loves to throw a brick at your heart, particularly when you’re not expecting it.
After my friends ate every miniature shrimp, spanakopita, and bacon-wrapped somethings at the cocktail hour, it was time to take our seats under the tent to welcome the families and the newly married happy couple!
There I was, clapping away, a happy woman cheering for my dear friend and their elated families, when the first dance song started. Of course, it was my first dance song, "Can’t Help Falling in Love." Of fucking course.
I turned to one of the girls at my table and blurted out, “I’m leaving!” and ran out of the tent onto the golf course.
As tears blurred my vision, I found a bench as the sun set. This time, the tears weren’t gentle. They were forceful. Just like at Nora’s wedding, I started sobbing, that icky gasping kind of crying that adults rarely do. What the fuck?! This is my third wedding since I got divorced! But I guess I’m still not used to going to weddings without Max. We went to soooo many weddings in 2006-2008, and we traveled for many of those – Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Seattle, and the list continues. And further, Max had always wanted to go with me to Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. We actually had a trip to Nantucket booked for December 2010, but he was so sick with depression we had to cancel the trip.
Breathe, Kat, breathe.
I pulled myself together and went to the restroom. Shockingly, my makeup was intact. (Thanks to 2010-2012, I am quite skilled at crying in public without smearing my makeup.) Again, I took a deep breath and went back to the reception.
I had a wonderful time, dancing, laughing, and drinking champagne. I left my tears on the golf course.
But, there was one really special moment I didn’t see coming.
When I stepped off the dance floor to kick off my high heels and chug some water, Maureen’s mom (whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in over a decade) approached me.
“Kat, I know that life has dealt you a tough hand. But, I really want you to know… it gets better.”
I was stunned. Maureen’s mom was divorced prior to marrying Maureen’s dad, something that we have never spoken about. It was so thoughtful (and vulnerable) of her to reference her past pain to give me hope. Afterall, this was her daughter's wedding day!
For just a moment, we talked about divorce without actually saying the D-word. I confessed to her that I don’t understand why I had to go through the heartache, but I know that I will someday.
“Yes,” she assured me, “you will eventually.”
This from a woman who has been remarried for nearly 40 years. This from a woman whose brand new son-in-law is on his second marriage. Both unions truly give me hope of finding love again.
I believe her. Someday I will understand my heartache. And with each passing day, divorced life does get better.
If you are divorced, do you feel that you understand why you had to go through it?