In remembrance

Now that the weather is cold and the holidays are upon us, I keep being caught up in memories of what I was doing this time last year. This coming week would be the one in which I moved out of the house M and I lived in together and filed for divorce. I finally felt the desire to start journaling about some of it last week, and although parts of it were obviously painful, I was mostly overwhelmed with thankfulness. I am healing up nicely and full of joy, and everything in the past usually feels like some other lifetime I didn’t really belong to. As I was writing I remembered several instances in which people almost strangers to me went out of their way to love and encourage me when I was far away from family and friends, and I feel the need to put them down in writing as a way of acknowledging this beautiful providence. Although I wasn’t apt to reach out for help or let myself come undone, these people somehow caught me with their small kindnesses even when I wouldn’t admit I needed catching.

1. Apartments were scarce in town, especially on such short notice. None of the places I called had vacancies, and I was starting to feel panicked when I got on the phone with Mr. Beech. At first he said he didn’t have anything available, but for whatever reason he took an interest in me — he asked about my job, found out I was from Nashville by way of Oklahoma and told me all about taking trips with his wife in their RV. I guess he decided that he liked the sound of me because he told me he might have a tiny studio about to open up and that I should call back tomorrow. I signed the lease on December 6th, but he only charged me half a month’s rent and worked out a 6 month lease for me. When I finally told him about getting divorced he said the same thing happened to his daughter but then her life turned out better than she’d imagined. And when we talked on the phone he always called me “girl.”

2. Mrs. Neely was our landlord. When M and I moved to town, she and her husband took us to dinner and gave us a tour. She was a veteran Home Ec. teacher in the same school district I was in, so whenever I went to pay rent we had long chats about school and took me under her wing a bit — she and her grandkids swam in our pool and we took food when her mom died. It was a small town and she owned the house we lived in, so when I had to tell her I was moving out, she already knew why. The last time I saw her, we sat at her kitchen table for a long time talking about life and our plans for the future. I was doing a great job of being matter-of-fact and was about to leave when she held both of my hands, looked into my eyes, and said, “I want you to have more happiness than you can hold with both hands.” And since that’s what I wanted, too, I cried shamelessly.

3. On February 25th we had to go to court to finalize our divorce. After M left, my lawyer and I walked back to his office get copies of some documents I would need. While we waited on his secretary, he sat me down, made me a cup of coffee, and told me about other young women who had come through his office in the same predicament – that we all deserved better and would find better. He basically told me not to beat myself up about it – that I was great and any man would be lucky to have me. which I needed to hear then. (Then he invited me to the singles class at his church, but I forgave him for that.)

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