Whose fault can it be? We met and married when we were young, and my, was she was beautiful. Regal but delicate, like one of those purple flowers with the yellow centers and strong stems you see poking out in a sea of grass blades. She’s still beautiful, though exhaustion has left his imprint on her face. She’s still beautiful, two children and over twenty-five years later. She’s still beautiful, she is. But I know we work as hard as we do because we are avoiding our unhappiness. I work at the store for 17 hours a day. She works at two different hospitals, mostly taking night shifts, I think, to avoid eating dinner with me. A few months after our wedding, I heard her crying on the other side of the bathroom door. She turned on the shower faucet, but I heard. I heard for the next twenty-five years. Children gone to university and beginning their own lives, she told me she wanted a divorce. She asked I leave her alone. But each day when she comes home from work, her lips sagging at the ends, her lids growing heavy with each blink, I want to hold her trembling hands in mine. I want to feed and nourish her. I want to hear her say she still needs me. But every night in bed as silence sits comfortably over our heads, she turns her back to me. What is a man without his woman.
It’s tricky, that “love” thing is. It can be both light and wonderful, and heavy and destructive. Whether her love was lost, or she never loved you to begin with, a divorce will be a coarse pill to swallow. It can break you. It can impale you. It can drop you so fast and so hard that your body shatters into a thousand shards that no one dares to touch.
How much power and control you give those feelings is entirely up to you —this is not an end, but a door closing behind you with a soft click.
When my two children were younger, they often played with the same toys —even my daughter’s dolls. My son would take her Barbies and drive his tanks over their little bodies. The green army men would swarm over their arms and legs and shout in wild triumph. It was a sight of miniature carnage. I remember one Sunday evening a long winter ago. Frost was kissing the corners of the windows and the two were sitting in the middle of the living room carpet. They both reached for the Barbie with the high pony-tail and a blue, sequined ice-skater dress. He grabbed the legs and she gripped the small head. He pulled and she yanked and with a pop that cut through the air, the Barbie with the high pony-tail and a blue, sequined ice-skater dress lost her head.
“I was going for it!”
“But she’s mine!”
“I was holding it first!”
“But she’s my favorite!”
A person is not your toy to tussle over. As she pulls in one direction away from you and you refuse to relinquish your grip on her, you will see your knuckles turn white, her body will stiffen under strain, and with a pop that cuts violently through the house which causes it to fall to ruin, she will lose her head. You both deserve happiness, but you will not find it together. Each relationship with a spouse, a lover, a child, a friend is a learning experience. You will learn together, grow together, and sometimes grow apart. That pain will be felt —it will be there tomorrow and you will feel it tomorrow’s tomorrow. But with recognizing this, you have overcome the most treacherous and arduous part of your climb. What follows is acceptance, the most silent, but brief, thing of all.
The loss or release of someone from your life can be felt as the loneliest, heaviest pain. You will have to tread softly so that your soles may not become too pressured, as you will have some time to go. But along the way, learn to be pleased what you have and content with what you do not. In time, the things that have become murky through the days and nights that passed like waves overlapping one another will become clear, vibrant, and lovely again.
Sarah Kim is a junior in the College. Infinity Songs appears every other Sunday at thehoya.com