Sorry if the title is a little confusing. Other than being a huge fan of all the Bourne movies, my divorce today has been similar to parts of we bought a zoo, which is one of my favorite family movies of all time.
I wish I could be more like Matt Damon, especially when it comes to fighting crazy Russians with a pair of chopsticks or some other weapon he fashioned out of next to nothing. His hair is also nice too, as are his teeth. Cool guy that Matt Damon. And then he bought a zoo. And at the very end he talks about the 20 seconds of courage.
Today, I had only that… 20 seconds… And then it ran out.
The first 20 seconds…
I readied myself to get out of my car and take the long walk up to the courthouse. The first five seconds was getting out of the car… The second 10 seconds was getting through security… And the final five seconds was walking up the stairs to level 5.
I arrived at the relatively punctual time of 8:30 at the courthouse. I went through security and removed my wallet, the folded summons/advisement, and my keys. It was weird being without my phone but I had recalled from a previous job that they don’t allow you to bring them in. So I left it in the car.
As I slowly and deliberately walked up the stairs I came up to level 5. My eyes darted around, looking for her, but almost hoping to not see her. I suspected I would as she was the plaintiff, but I almost didn’t want to. It would be the first time in a year that I saw my wife.
Combing the large, open room with my eyes I did not see her, so I propped myself upon the wall, too nervous to be seated among the rest of the losers like me. I shuffled my feet like a kid in the dentist’s office, anxiously awaiting what would undoubtedly be the worst moments of my life.
A short and chubby African American woman came out to the room and asked who was waiting for the specific judge that we were all assigned. I gave her my name and informed her that I was the party that was not on the list but that I was here and was wondering if I needed to be there.
In hindsight I should not have asked this question. Because it gave me the out part of me so desperately wanted. She replied in what should have been a thick southern accent followed by offering some sweet tea, that I probably didn’t need to be there because it was a no fault divorce. She also informed me that the other parties called ahead and said they would be arriving later, like afternoon sometime. I was a little disappointed at this point because I had arrived on time and now I find out they had rescheduled and nobody had informed me. She said she would find out.
I waited in what seemed like how one would describe purgatory. The misfits of the Christian world. The ones who didn’t do enough good to get a prime spot in heaven. There was the heavyset woman in the long green dress who probably claimed she was Irish with the reddish brown hair even though she was clearly American. Talking about the renovations at her house and how her kids are reacting to her and her husband being seemingly happier even if she was masking the sadness behind loud and exaggerated stories of Lowes and home renovations.
Then there was the loud laugher with the crew cut. Talking to all the people next to him, this youngish man was getting a divorce and was happy about it. He also told stories that he claimed were funny… “Wanna hear a funny story? She moved in and is now a tenant…” Where was the punchline I wondered? The story was not even funny to the woman listening.
The whole room was littered with people who were from the island of misfit toys for humans and I was one of the many.
I shuffled my tan and brown leather shoes as I played with the tie my mom and I bought for my wedding. I thought it was appropriate to be married and divorced in the same tie. And I wanted to show her that I still cared. That I still loved. That my mistakes don’t have to define everything, we can. I was too late for that however. Way too late.
Twenty minutes later she emerged from a different room that was clearly interconnected by various doors and hallways behind the great wall that separated us from the inner workings of the court system. She asked again if anyone was there for the judge. As I approached her she realized she hadn’t told me the answer to my previous question and said before I could ask “they called and delayed until 10:30, you can either wait, or you can go home because you don’t really have to be here.”
I told her i’d leave, but I really couldn’t. This would be the last time I would see my wife. The last time I see her as a man married to her. I couldn’t leave. So I headed downstairs and walked out and to my car and waited. And as I waited I remembered that I needed gas. So I drove to Wawa. By the time I got back it was about 10:20, plenty of time to walk back in and go through with this.
Except this time, I couldn’t muster the courage. I was in the parking lot. I was ready. But I was no Matt Damon. And then I was. I got out of the car and I started walking. Down the sidewalk to the little creek that passed along the road opposite the courthouse. And I stopped. And as I watched the water, it almost seemed to fill up my eyes too. And I stood there choking back tears and sobs. And I knew I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have 20 seconds.
And as I thought about my wife. And as I thought about how much love and respect I still have for her. I considered that she probably didn’t want to see me. And I considered how I did not want to see those eyes again. They would haunt me for another two years. And I didn’t want to see her sad face. And I didn’t want to see her smile, because it was proof that she had gotten over me. I wanted so bad to see her and to show her that I respected her enough not to leave her a second time, even on the most heartbreaking day of our lives, but I also respected her enough to stay away this time. I wasn’t going to push her. She was ready to sign the papers and I understood.
And I do. I could never fathom the pain and the hurt and the additional pain that I caused her. But I understood why she made the decision she did. She once said she needed a clean start with me. I know that won’t be the case, but I’m thankful that she will get a clean start.
Unfortunately I don’t have the superpowers like Jason Bourne, and I don’t have the courage of Mr. Meeks. And now I don’t have a wife. What I do have however, is the reminder of the best years of my life and a Savior who will make the rest of hers amazing. I trust in Him to do a good work in her, for all good things work together for good to those who love Him. And we do. Because He is good. He is good. And so is she.
I love you. Goodbye.