Marital status is a standard question on forms and applications of all kinds. The matter should be straightforward. Are you currently married? Have you ever been married? Instead, most often there are four options – never married, married, widowed, and divorced. Foods contain expiration and best before dates. Store sales and coupons are time limited. Legal matters have statutes of limitations. Why isn’t it reasonable to assume that if you’ve been ‘divorced’ for many more years than you were married, at some point there might be another option? I know relationship status is a complicated issue for some of us, but maybe single or at the very least other, deserves a box of it’s own.
This past week brought an opportunity to consider marital status from a new angle when I spent the better part of two days visiting with a woman who, in the years of life that we shared, not only was a valued friend, but also one of my sisters-in-law. My soul was nourished by the generosity and warmth of the unexpected gifts she offered. I was completely unprepared for the flood of emotions that came when she spoke of having wondered about me over the years. Yet perhaps the greatest of all surprises came from her mom, the all-time reigning Queen of knitting, who sent a lovely hand fashioned hat that spoke volumes to my heart.
In some ways we picked up right where we left off. At the same time, filling in over twenty years of triumph and tragedy in a single afternoon caused me to experience a similar sensation to watching the time lapsed photography of Frans Hofmeester’s daughter Lotte. A touch of awe combined with a sadness at the rapid passing of everyday moments, forever gone. Driving home, grief rode along in the passenger seat, forcing me to confront the impact of a lack of availability to people I loved in their time of need.
A storm raged throughout that night. It was violent, bringing high winds that ripped deeply held beliefs out by the roots and tossed them about without consideration. The next morning, I was inconsolable in what at first appeared to be the evidence of the mess of my life. That is, until something twinkled up at me from amidst the debris….
I have always believed that I was banished from that strong united family, for the unforgivable and egregious act of choosing myself over a marriage that clearly didn’t work. Never in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined that by my hand, I had cut off the possibility of forgiveness, and shunned myself. I had done my best trying to stay, it wasn’t right for either of us, and everything that happened brought me to where I am now. It seemed so obvious, what was really needed was forgiveness for myself. This realization expanded my ribcage as I breathed in all the wonderful and not, things that have happened in my life since that time. I realized that I wouldn’t change a single thing in the sequence of events that have led to the people, places, and insights discovered since that time.
The next day we had breakfast and went for a hike around the lake at Ashland State Forest. The clouds cleared, and the rain held off. Our time was filled with healing, laughter, communion, moving forward, friendship, clarity and new awareness. When we hugged goodbye, I knew we had both reclaimed something of value.
I like to think, that now that I am healthier, maybe someday, there will be another chance to check a different box. Until then, I will continue, lovingly true to myself. Blessed be.