In my third year of teaching, I became friends with two other teachers, who were going through painful, messy divorces; this is a composite of their stories.
I don’t exactly remember the day I stopped loving you;
Maybe it was a process, a parade of continuous little
hammer taps on the edge of the china of our relationship,
each of them leaving a small dent, chip, or scratch,
until finally it didn’t look good anymore.
It certainly could no longer be used.
It seemed like the process took a long time, and we were
aware of it happening, at least I was. I think maybe
you did not know until it was over and done, when it could not
be rescued anymore. . . although for many months
we still behaved as if survival were a possibility.
We both gave it lip service, our tone and words positive and upbeat,
but always hollow, at least to me.
When did it all begin to die?
I ‘m not perfectly sure of that either.
Maybe it was when I came home early one afternoon and found
you and your pretty young, secretary in our bed.
You hurriedly ushered her out and
swore up and down that this was a mistake, a one-time error never to be repeated,
because we really had a good marriage, you said.
Maybe it was when a significant amount of money disappeared
from our joint checking account and you insisted it was a bank error you were working with them to correct.
You worked on it for a very long time
and I don’t clearly recall it ever reaching a satisfactory resolution.
Maybe it was the business conference you attended in another city,
never answering the phone, but always returning my calls in a respectable amount of time with a pat explanation of precisely where you had been
and what you had been doing.
You reminded me how much we both wanted you to advance in your company.
Perhaps it was the day I saw you and a preppy co-worker lunching at an upscale restaurant where my cousin had taken me for a surprise birthday meal.
You were tightly holding his hands in yours on the table, your glances locked, both of you oblivious to the rest of the world.
I did not confront you until that evening at home when you totally denied the entire incident, saying how could I have even thought of such an outrageous thing, and that you were shocked and highly insulted by such an accusation.
Possibly it was the night you were “working late” and did not come home until the next morning; drunk, disheveled, and disoriented, not even exerting yourself to create an excuse of any sort. You angrily rebuked my later attempts to reopen that discussion or revisit that time, as I tried to clear the air and get some closure.
Interspersed with these flagrant red flags were some great conversations filled with seemingly sincere and sensitive words, a few fun trips, generous gifts from you, and some decent sexual encounters.
And then one day it could no longer be denied or ignored.
I slowly removed my wide gold wedding band and placed it on the mirrored perfume tray on my dresser.
I heard the small clink it made.
I stared at it there for several seconds, maybe a whole minute, and then I picked it up, opened my 7th floor apartment window, and with vengeance, threw it out, quickly closing the window, not waiting for it to reach the cement below.
I felt it was like a stone being thrown into the depths of the ocean.
That wasn’t the day I stopped loving you.
That was just the retiring of the official symbol of our marriage.
The actual day was much, much earlier, maybe even way before
the hammer began to tap the side of the plate. Hard to say.
Most people could probably identify when they first fell in love, but would be hard pressed to pinpoint just when that love expired.
The end of anything else (other than a novel or a song) is not usually a moment, but more like the result of a very gradual process, one that quietly sneaks up on us.
And then it’s done.
Written by Ricki Dorn – Miami, Florida
Photos Courtesy of Engin Akyurt,