The first lesson in loss is that no matter how shitty things are, life goes on. This holds true for heartbreak, lost homework assignments, burned dinners, a loved one’s death and the day you realize your marriage is in crisis. The thing is, you don’t have much time to think about loss because your Internet just blinked out and so did your cable TV.
Which, let’s be honest: after 15 years of marriage, the most important thing is not missing the latest episode of Parenthood, am I right?
Speaking of Parenthood, Kristina has breast cancer and oh-I-so-GET-THIS, Adam is dive-bombing into fix-it mode when all Kristina wants is for him to sit and just be with her, you know?
Annnd back to me and my falling-apart-life: the children are hungry and how–how, children–did you manage to eat twelve apples in ONE day???
Well, Mother. There are five of us, you know.
Mommy? Why are you crying into the macaroni and cheese?
Because I have a broken heart. And because this is BOXED mac-n’-cheese which makes me a terrible mother.
Hey, Mom? I forgot my textbook at school. Can you take me back to school so I can get it out of my locker?
Text to my husband: pls come home and fix Internet + cable.
Text from my husband: u said for me not to come home.
Me: i need u 2 fix stuff.
Him: on way.
And this is how it goes. Things fall apart. And then they are put back together by little redemptions: encouraging feedback on my book, husband fixing the cable, a bowl of popcorn.
Life is mysterious.
The next morning I donned my long, black skirt and my black blouse and went to Mass. Because, clearly, I was in mourning. And if I’m going to mourn, I’m going to MOURN all proper-like. IN the mourning clothes! WITH the mourning face! Sackcloth shall I wear for the rest of my days, amen.
The reading for that day was Eccelsiastes 3: a time to live, a time to die, a time to mourn, a time to dance, etc. etc. Per the usual, I cried. Weeping, apparently, is my spiritual vocation. And then, like St. Therese: I cried because I cried.
The priest asked us to pray for those struggling with The Exact Thing I am facing in my marriage. Which just about gave me a heart attack because I was all: WHO TOLD YOU? And then I laugh-snorted because, wow, God, wow. You and Your sense of humor.
And then I cried again. Because I didn’t want to pray for that. I just wanted it to go away. Please go away. Go back in time and make it never happen.
That’s when I realized what I’m mourning: the loss of our marriage ever being the way it was before. This was followed by a sudden understanding of just how hard we’ll have to work to build something entirely new. I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. I also felt very small and weak. It’s a good thing I’m on speaking terms with St. Therese–which is to say, I talk and she listens (I think). We small souls need to stick together.
And then I received the Eucharist. I asked Jesus to make me strong, help me, help me help.
Jesus told me to stop crying and go put on a miniskirt.
Or maybe it was a tunic (I was having a hard time hearing Him over my weeping, wailing and gnashing of toofs).
THE POINT IS, I came home, did my hair and makeup, put on a skirt and a pair of heels. I applied lipgloss. I smiled into the mirror. I said to myself: Your world might be falling apart but you don’t have to look like it. You shall overcome! RELENTLESS OPTIMISM!
Life goes on. It always, always goes on.