A Gift of Dark Days

I’ve never cried so hard as that day in 2007 when James drove his moving truck down the street.

He was moving from Salt Lake to live with his office assistant/girlfriend and her son 2000 miles away, just weeks after we told the girls we were divorcing, a divorce which blindsided me, James and Sarah probably beginning their relationship that summer we dug out our basement, when I unknowingly insisted James stay with Sarah and her husband Ryan near the Virginia Vitech office rather than come home to the stress and unpleasantness the girls and I were living with.
“James, no: really. It’s horrible here; just stay with Sarah and Ryan and I’ll take care of stuff here.”

Naturally, he didn’t tell me Ryan had moved out.

But on that epic day, Livy had lost her first tooth (in a bowl of popcorn!) and when he drove off in his UHaul, both girls chased the truck down the street, and he noticed, stopping at the end of Garfield Avenue–next to the orange house he’d eventually move into after the break up with Sarah—getting out of the drivers side to swing around to where Julia and Livy waited on the sidewalk. And there was this moment in my mind—this lovely flash of hope–that he would hug his daughters so tightly, he’d never want to stop, and would recover who he was and become the dad they needed.

But he didn’t. And that night I cried with the force of eternal heartbreak, as if something in my body was already living the future–the sense of rejection my girls would feel, the way they’d blame themselves as faulty, believing if they’d only been different, he wouldn’t have left–instinctually knowing this archetypal loss and what it meant to us all, rolling myself into the fetal position on my bed in the darkness of earths night, convulsing from grief, and the unrecoverable knowledge that the hill was far off and way too high, and that my daughters–my most beloved ethereal connection to both this earth and my own soul–might never be whole again. And that neither would I.

But I was wrong.

I have said goodbye to many things in my lifetime—so many versions of myself and what I thought I needed to be happy— and while it is true that the girls and I were never the same again, the events from that time changed us, scarring us with an experience that gave us no choice but to reach out to one another and (eventually) to go more deeply within. For I never wanted that day to happen–and even now, don’t want the memory of it–and begged God so many times to make the pain go away.

But the Universe in her wisdom did not listen, knowing that one day there would be a stronger, calmer me for the trial, knowing that the evolution of a more sacred human requires unwanted experiences so as to better understand and connect in compassion and grace with our world and our fellow beings. Knowing that it is often our own tears which baptize us into better versions of ourselves.

And absent the human-centric aspect of Time, it becomes possible to witness even the most-emotionally cold day of your life as something you wanted.

Because I’ve been struck with reverberations of that day each moment of the ten years since, and it is within the now that I can see–just adjacent to the sometimes still-intense feeling of loss–that there is a “me” that is actually bigger than such times. For the momentary relief of pain that I desired cannot compare to the joy of knowing I’m now better for it, and you do not even know how beautiful you are until you have had to fight for yourself.

And when you can take something shitty and use it to make something beautiful, there is no fear or need or want anymore: there’s just one opportunity then the next to embrace yourself as a sacred space and learn how to power your way into a more redemptive world.

So I guess I’ll just say that: We got this, America.

These are just dark days, powering us to a better version of ourselves.

2 thoughts on “A Gift of Dark Days

  1. Mary Plimpton says:

    Wonderful, Amy – I too well remember the shock of learning of James’ decision, and I marveled then and still now at how well (if that is the right word) you got through that dark time. – As to America, I hope you are right…..Love you

  2. alsoknownas says:

    It’s been sometime since seeing your writing.
    I like the “me” being bigger than the moment concept. The base of the mountain always spreads further than the stormy peak where we too often seek our viewpoint.

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