Those of you who have followed me here for a while know that I was once married to a woman named Holly. She is the mother of my two children. There was a whole bunch of drama when we divorced that some of you were privy to. That was a long time ago. The pain, hurt and anger have faded. The children are grown. People have remarried. Life has gone on. Except for one.
Holly died a week ago. She had been very ill for several years so it wasn't a surprise. Sudden, yes. Surprise, no.
My first concern, of course, is with my kids. They have had to deal with their mother's declining health for a long time. This was very stressful, especially for my daughter, Olivia. After we moved to the north part of town, Olivia decided to move in with her mom so she could finish out her senior year of high school at the same school and so she could be around to help her mom.
This caused an enormous amount of stress for Liv. She barely made it through her final year of high school with her sanity intact. In addition, she was working two jobs to earn money for college. She made it through and started at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln this past fall. She decided to attend the Lincoln campus instead of the Omaha one so she could put some distance between herself and the stresses she'd been dealing with. It was a good move, as it turned out since she wasn’t there to find her mother when she passed away.
My son, Alex, has been living back in Massachusetts with his grandmother for the past couple of years, so he was somewhat removed from it all. None this has been easy on either of my kids, but they are handling it as well as can be expected.
As for me, it feels strange. I got over the pain and anger of the betrayal and divorce a long time ago, but I never could get to the point where I could remember the good times with Holly without getting upset. I think this was because she made everything so difficult whenever we had to deal with each other. And she continued to lie to me even when there was no reason to. That just brought up the hurt and anger anew.
It is still hard for me to stop and really convince myself that she is dead. It freaks me out thinking about her being dead. Part of the reason is that I was in love with her for a long time. I invested much of my self-worth in being a good husband so that relationship was a very big part of who I was. Even though things between us went bad, the fact that she was once the love of my life, my reason for being, means that a big part of my life was spent with her. And there was a lot of happiness there, which as I said before I haven’t really been able to look back on fondly, although I would like to be able to.
A divorce is a lot like a death and I did a lot of grieving for losing her back when we split, so I don’t think there is really much grieving of the loss of her to do now. What I think I might be able to do is to start to allow myself to look back on the good times we shared with pleasure. Now that Holly isn’t around anymore to keep reminding me of why we split up, I can start to review my life with her separate from her. I can start to look at it without all the baggage and anger. I would like to be able to do this because there is almost two decades of my life that I walled off and avoided looking at for the past 10 years. I’d like those times back.
I’ve suffered my fair share of losses. Besides two divorces, I lost both parents and a sister, so I’m no stranger to the finality of death. This one has hit hard in some ways, in others not. I’m angry that she never took care of herself because now her kids will not have their mother there when they graduate college, get married or have children of their own. She knew what could happen if she didn’t take care of her diabetes. We used to talk about it all the time so it’s not like she didn’t know.
I’m also sad because it is such a waste. She was so intelligent and capable and did nothing with it. She put her kids, especially Olivia, through so much stress and worry because of her health.
So, I guess this last act of hers, dying, leaves me feeling the same as anything else she did in life: sad and angry. I suppose, knowing Holly, that is only fitting.