THE FOLLOWING IS A TESTIMONIAL FROM SOMEONE WHO HAS DEALT WITH DIVORCE ON A VERY PERSONAL LEVEL:
I’m an adult child of divorce.
My parents’ divorce was finalized in mid-2008, mere days before what would have been their 22nd anniversary. I was 19 years old.
I’ve struggled with writing an introduction to this. I ask myself what exactly is the point I want to convey. How do I give a clear concept of what I need to say? How can I make neat piles of black and white from this gradient of greys?
I suppose it starts with understanding the past.
My parents grew up in a sleepy town sprawled in the Piney Woods of East Texas. They lived on the same block, six houses apart. They were high school sweethearts and each other’s first kiss.
Any chance they could slip away, they would make the two-hour drive into Dallas. There was a place in the city they went to watch the smooth underbellies of planes roaring in and out of Love Field. My mother’s cerulean eyes always took on a hazy glow of happiness recounting those days spent looking skyward, safe in my father’s embrace.
The college acceptance letter that came in spring meant she would be gone with summer’s end. It was her last year of high school, but my father had another year left. They let each other go.
That was the year 1969.
In 1985, my maternal grandfather died.
My father lived in Beaumont working as a lawyer. He was poring over a brief when the phone rang. It was his mother with the news.
“Parkinson’s. He didn’t go gentle, God rest his soul.”
He knew the pain of losing a father all too well. He was given my mother’s number to give his condolences.
He told me that when he heard her voice for the first time in 15 years, he felt like he had finally come home. He never wanted to hang up the phone. She quietly asked him to be there when they put her father in the ground.
He drove all night in the rain to reach the sleepy town they had left so many years ago.
He stood next to her under the canopy at the graveside. Her red hair ran like a river over her shoulders and looked like fire against her black dress of grief. He held her hand as they buried her father in the rain.
They married in July of 1986.
I came two years later.
We had a red brick house with three bedrooms in a historic district. We had the white picket fence and the yellow Labrador retriever with papers from the breeder.
We were the American Dream.