The other day, a letter came in the mail for me.  It was from the County court.  It was informing me of the court date for my divorce.  Friday February 8, 2008.  10:30 am.

Finally after almost 4 years of upheaval there is a date when I know a decision will be made, a paper will be signed,  a deed will be done.  It is the first time in the four year rollercoaster of my failed marriage when a firm date has ever been named.    And I am not quite sure what to do with it–this date certain.  I don’t quite know how to hold it.

One of the most difficult things about this odessy has been the complete and utter lack of a timetable, the total lack of predicatability for how it would all unfold. 

When Juan told me he wanted to leave me, it was very unclear when and if he actually planned to do so.   The night he made this announcement I had no idea when or if my life would really ever change. 

It was another 9 months before he would eventually decide to really go.  After months of trying to work on our marriage I asked him one night , “Do you even WANT to try and save this marriage?”  When he couldn’t answer me.  I told him it was time to leave.

But even then there were no solid dates–no sense of on what timetable the big great move would happen.  One day, a few weeks later, he came home from work and told me he had found a place–a room with a friend.  He would go over there that night to move some stuff in.  He might stay the night.  He kissed Max goodnight, took his toothbrush and a change of clothes and he never came back.  Never once slept in our house again.  Clothes, posessions drifted out of the house in drips and drabs.  There was no move out date.  No time when his buddies came and loaded up his stuff into boxes.   No reservation date for a UHaul.

When he first moved out it was supposed to be temporary.  We were going to hit the reboot button on our marriage–give each other some space so that we could have the energy to work on our marriage.  We scheduled marriage counseling sessions, date nights, family nights–we had a plan for how we would make it all work.    But we never got around to setting a timeline for how long this experiment would last.  Was it three months?  Six months? 

And then one all those little dates, the ones we scheduled every week became fluid too.  Marriage counseling found me waiting all by myself in the waiting room.  Sometimes he came, but I never really knew whether we would actually both be there or not.  Our therapist finally called him and told him she was no longer working with us as a couple.  We never had a session that was our definitive last session.

Date nights were cancelled and never rescheduled.  I kept trying to make them happen but eventually I gave up.  I can’t say I ever was able to name the last time we went out together as a couple. 

Eventually even family nights faded away.  There were weeks, whole months that first year when Max and I didn’t ever hear from Juan.   We never really knew when we would see him.  Hear from him.  It was the height of unpredicatability.

As we approached the two year mark of living this way, I knew that even though I couldn’t name the day, the ground had shifted.  It was time to name what had happened.  We set up times and dates to talk to each other about the “D word.”  But appointments were cancelled–he was sick, he never called to firm it up, “later, maybe next week, soon.”  Then one day he actually showed up.  All I had intended to do was lay out for him what I was hoping to do.  I left that night with the outline of a complete divorce agreement.    Completely unpredicatably.

But even though my attorney quickly turned it into a separation agreement it was another 8 months before it would be signed.  I gave it to him quickly but it sat so long without a signature.  I would ask, “When??When??  When will you give me a signed agreement?”  I never got an answer.

One day, completely out of the blue, the day before my 38th birthday, it showed up when I least expected it.

That is how my marriage ended, how it fell apart–with no sense of orderly timetable, no ability to predict.  It all happened just when I least expected it.

So having a date, a date when I know it will all end for good–it is a strange and wonderful thing.  It has taken me days just to wrap my head around it.  After 4 years of never knowing when the next shoe would drop, to know for certain when something so important will happen seems to me a bit surreal.  

I have grown accustomed to the constant lack of certainty–the the endless unknowing.  It has become a companion really, a partner.  For the last 4 years this chap called “Who Knows When?” has been at my side, walking beside me.  It has been the constant refrain I repeat when anyone asks me about Juan.  It was the refrain I whispered to my heart when it asked me “How much longer can we do this?  When will the grief end?”  But now I have a date.  A date certain.

And while it is a bit disconcerting,  it is a relief too.  After months of not exactly knowing, when or how difficult news would hit, of not knowing when or how my life was going to shift in seismic ways,  its good that I can prepare for this one change.  I can set up my community to support me.  I can plan celebrations or rituals to mark the milestone.  I can finally grasp a thread of predicatability in a situation where there never has been any.   

In some ways, this date is significant.  It is 3 years and one day after Juan walked out of the house.  It is an anniversary.  It is one year and one week after we negotiated our settlement agreement.  It is the day after Chinese New Year–the second day of the much anticipated (by me at least) Year of the Rat.  

And yet, in so many other ways, its a date that matters not at all.  After all,  Juan divorced me emotionally 4 years ago, sometime before he told me he was going on a date I never will know.  I divorced him emotionally sometime in the last year or so, when I finally decided I was done, gradually over months really. 

There is nothing REALLY that is going to happen on this date that will change anything at all, anything that really matters anyway.  It is a paper.  It is simply a different box that gets checked.  It is nothing–and yet it feels like it is everything.  

It is nothing but a date.  A box on a calendar with a red ring around it.

But its a date certain.  

5 Responses to “Date Certain”

  1. Jen Ballantyne Says:

    Oh darling, my heart aches for you in some ways and in others it rejoices. It rejoices in your courage, in you being able to plan to have support around you, I truly hope this hasn’t hit you to hard, I am here for you anytime you know. Love and hugs Jen xxx

  2. Jena Strong Says:

    Meg – the resources I imagine you’ve nurtured and strengthened – both internally and in your community – make me glad for the uncertainty you’ve weathered. That said, you capture here the relief of certainty. And it has been hard-won.

    Love to you,

    xo J

  3. rebecca Says:

    Meg – my heart was with you fully absorbing your words of grief; and, i send you much love and strength.

    i can only imagine the pain that you must have gone through and i know this must have been the most difficult road you have walked thus far. yet, you are indeed stronger by it. and know, that a better life awaits you. he was never the one.

    my blessings and love to you….

  4. Meg Says:

    Thanks to you all for your kind comments.
    Jena-you are right–I too am glad for the uncertainty I have weathered–there has been no greater teacher about the importance of living in the moment. Indeed life is never ever certain–we just pretend it is.
    Rebecca-I too believe that I am stronger for it.
    Thanks again all for being part of this lovely little community

  5. Karen Says:

    Every end is a beginning. A birthdate! Isn’t it interesting to see that the inability to commit is the inability to commit to all things? He was really quite predictable all along, only now you can begin. Marry yourself, I say. And live happily ever after.