When he died, we were strangers: maybe less
My ex-husband died in his mid-thirties. We were not in touch. We did not remain friends. When he died, we were strangers, maybe less than strangers. Nonetheless, when I found out he had died, I was shocked enough to cry. Since I was at work at the time I found out the rumors of his death were true, my boss and coworkers saw me crying uncontrollably over a man I swore I hated.
They assumed I would need the day of his funeral off — with pay. I didn’t tell them they were wrong.
I took the day of my ex-husband’s funeral off from work, and I got paid for it. Then I didn’t even go to the funeral.
After that, there wasn’t anything else about him that I wanted to remember. So I forgot everything about our marriage. It seemed like it was all just one big lie, anyway. Like how we met.
My parents thought he was perfect. They told me so every chance they could get. My father said my ex-husband would be a great husband because he loved God, family, and country above himself. He would never cheat on me or abandon us. That sort of thing. And he was good with money. Money made sense to him. I believed him. I really believed him. But then I discovered something. Something terrible.
When I married him, I knew nothing about him. Not his age, not where he came from, not what he did before we met. Nothing. Yet somehow I fell in love with this man who claimed to have been born into poverty, raised by a single mother, and adopted as an infant. None of it was true. How stupid is that? What kind of woman falls in love with such a story?
But I did.
It’s funny how sometimes you meet someone, and your heart skips a beat. You feel it right away, no matter if you know them for years or only minutes. Maybe it’s the way their eyes look at you, the way they smile, or maybe it’s just knowing that they are happy to see you. Whatever it is, when you first meet somebody, it seems like fate. Fate doesn’t seem so bad once you’re married.
Our wedding night was perfect. After we slept together for the first time, I felt safe, secure, and protected. Everything about him was wonderful. I didn’t think I could have done any better. As it turned out, I was wrong.
Then, two weeks after we married, he started cheating on me. With other women. Women he met while I was working late hours, or even during those times I spent at home alone waiting for him to come back from his “business trips.”
He promised me he wouldn’t do that anymore. He swore he would never leave me again. But he did.
The last time he cheated on me was six months before I left him for good. He sent me a picture of his new girlfriend. A brunette with long hair, wearing a dress.
She was beautiful. Dressed in black. Her skin was pale, her hair was dark, and she wore a diamond necklace around her neck. The sight of her made me sick to my stomach.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “but I just can’t help myself.”
I didn’t want to hear that. I told him I was leaving him.
That same day, I packed up all of my things.
I moved out of our house the next day. Our divorce was final several years later; it took a long time because of some outstanding debt he had incurred in my name by forging my signature on some pre-approved credit card applications.
Now here I am, writing about the time I took the day off from work with pay to go to his funeral, but without actually going to his funeral.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t grieve. I just did it in my own way.