It’s funny how sometimes you have no idea what you need until it’s happening. You can have weeks of sadness, confusion, lack of direction and then suddenly something shifts. Yesterday was one of those days.
Today Dad and I met with the hospice social worker and the chaplain. It was our first meeting with them, an opportunity to learn who they are and what services they offered and also an opportunity for them to learn about us. How they could help. After speaking with Dad, the chaplain turned to me and said, “As a caregiver, who is available for you to turn to for emotional support?” I hesitated, laughed, and said the first person who popped into my mind. My not quite ex-husband.
Yesterday my ex and I went riding. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous here. The days a little cooler. The humidity a little less oppressive. I had no idea how much I needed to be outdoors. When Thomas asked if I wanted to go ride quads, I didn’t even hesitate. I followed him down a new to me path and found myself riding through a postcard.
A train used to pass through the countryside here. I have no idea how long ago. These days, the tracks have been removed and what is left behind is a path through one of the most beautiful scenes that I have ever seen. I knew they existed- part of them run right behind our house and I used to hit them almost daily when I was trying to run some of the energy out of two seventy pound dogs. They pass through the woods, through streams where the dogs love to swim. Through dirt roads surrounded by corn fields and soybeans. Sometimes I sit and watch the farm equipment as it moves up and down the rows and I can’t even believe how beautiful this world can be. I had no idea there were miles and miles of path that I didn’t know existed. Paths full of trees and shade and dappled sunlight.
I know it’s weird that we were riding together. I mean recent events haven’t exactly been great, but life goes on. I needed fresh air, sunshine and the peace of mind that I can only seem to find when the wind is rushing by. I didn’t go with any expectations or even really any thought other than I needed to be outside and I don’t like to ride alone. I didn’t go for closure, yet that’s what I found.
So my quad doesn’t have the greatest brakes ever. Going down any kind of steep hill requires the abandon of all sense of caution and prayer. I was following Thomas and at one point I managed to find myself stuck on the edge of a rock, leaning to one side and afraid to move because I just knew that if I managed to get myself off that rock without turning over, I was going to be praying pretty hard for brakes on the way down. In reality, I probably wasn’t in any danger of flipping, I just like to feel all four tires firmly on the ground at all times… Thomas turned around to see where I was. The sight of me frozen, eyes like saucers, not even daring to breathe was apparently super funny. A minute later we were both laughing, I trusted him when he said I could make it down and I took a leap of faith. There was a lot of screaming (me) and laughing (both of us) but I made it down. It turns out that not all of our trust was shattered.
Then I got sad.
I started wondering why our marriage could never work. I watched him riding ahead of me. Both of us in our element. Both of us having fun. Together. I could ride behind him for days, just enjoying the trees, the adventure, close enough to nature that I can reach out and touch it. I had to work my way through why that could never happen in order to get to what can.
I don’t know what is wrong with him. I truly don’t. I’ve diagnosed him. I’ve said he’s his own worst enemy. None of that really matters. What matters is that when we are trying to be together, something switches off in him. He’s not happy. I’m not happy. We are both always searching. I just choose to focus my search on ideas, words, psychology, scriptures. We both have our own band-aids. The truth is, if we were together right now, we probably wouldn’t have been riding at all. If we were, he probably would have been more annoyed than tickled when I got stuck. I probably would have been anxious. Instead, I was carefree.
We completely suck at being married, but we are usually really good at being friends. Not that we didn’t almost manage to find a way to ruin that, too. Me by thinking we could start over like the previous decade never existed. Him by… well, always searching for band-aids. Temporary fixes that don’t fix anything.
I don’t know how to explain how I can still be friends after everything that’s happened other than I just can. It’s a choice I made. There is not one thing about me that he doesn’t know. There is nothing that I could ever think that I would be afraid to say out loud. I need that. When everything came out a couple weeks ago, that is what I was grieving. Not my marriage. My best friend. We don’t usually mess that up.
I’m a huge believer in finding the lesson. The day after “the big reveal”, I was devastated but I also knew that I was never going to stop wondering about my decisions regarding moving on or trying to stay in our marriage unless God basically hit me with a hammer. The amount of guilt that I felt over Jace not having what he wanted- his parents together- was overwhelming. The big reveal was God’s hammer and as much as it hurt, I was grateful to know that I wasn’t doing any of us any favors by trying to hold on.
No, everything isn’t just back like it was. I’m a different person now. I know that in time, Thomas and I are both going to have other people in our lives that fill that best friend role and honestly, I’m looking forward to that day. I know someday there will be a man who wants nothing more than to ride through life beside me. I hope that Thomas finds the person who heals his soul. I hope that the four of us can share some of the best moments of our lives together. Our children getting married. Grandchildren being born. I truly look forward to those days.
For once in our time together, I think we are both on the same page.