“You cheated on me!” My breath came out in a puffy smoke, dancing around my face like a trained dancer.
It was late evening and the shadows around the empty park made a shiver ran through my spine. The ground was littered with colorful leaves, sparkling in moon light. The Fall had started showing its colorful venture, emptying the trees out of its beauty, making them stand bare and empty, just like how I felt right now. Windswept and exposed…
My husband for three years stood there, leaning against the empty bark of the tree, looking guilty. His eyes were drawn to the floor, seeking refuge in the small fluttering of leaves. His eyes were hidden from me, his head bowed in shame, or maybe it was just his way of saying ‘I don’t damn care what you say.’
“Talk, will you?” I asked again, as I searched the sky above for the answers.
I didn’t know how we came to this point. We loved each other once. He was mine and I was his, it was always easy.
But three days had passed since I caught him cheating on me with some other woman. It was a blow to my heart, but I did want to act like an adult, and here I was, ‘acting’ like an adult. I wanted to sob and yell at him, but I simply knew I couldn’t do it.
“Listen, I don’t think our marriage is working out.” His voice was void of emotion.
He looked up then, his blue eyes unbothered. The same blue eyes which once looked at me with so much love and passion was now staring at me like a cold patch of ice. I felt myself shaking; I then straightened my shoulder and wrapped my arms around my body. So he was breaking up this marriage after I caught him red-handed? A bitch move!
“Why didn’t you say it before? Why did you act like everything is fine just before three days? Is it the only time you’ve cheated or you’re going behind my back all these time?” My fist rose in a threatening way and he backed slightly. It made me smile that I had this power over him, even when I was vulnerable.
“I wanted to say it and end it, but then there’s Lyle, he can’t get affected by it. It’s not fair for him.” He didn’t answer my other questions, but his silence spoke louder than words. I understood.
“Do you think it’s fair for me?” I asked with a small nod.
I just wanted to sit and cry, but then I would be giving him a power over me. He didn’t need to see I cared enough to cry. That was simply not an option for me.
The wind played with my hair as the silence grew like a dense forest around us, capturing us inside. The vines of silence wrapped around my heart, slowly squeezing it. Wind played a tune, silent and daunting. The leaves fluttered and then fell down, as if they couldn’t stand against the wind’s burly embrace. The whooshing of wind was low, haunting and I found myself immersed inside it, before I walked away, leaving him standing there.
The scrunching sound of the leaves under my boots was audible in the silenced night. As I left, I just knew I was never going to forgive him.
The fall of our marriage was great. It did left me broken. The marriage I so dearly cherished was no longer there. It was broken like a glass, unable to fix it back and I didn’t want to try to fix it. I just let him go, because the first time I saw him cheating, it was as if he was no more the man I knew.
And that was how our life headed in the direction of fake greetings, forced smiles and tortured family dinners. I said to myself that Lyle needed this. He was what mattered now, not me, not him, only Lyle.
We both tried to sit together, but as time went by, I started to hate him more. The lipstick stains in his collar, the smell of perfume, the evidence were all there and it just didn’t sit well with me. I wanted to stop caring, but I couldn’t.
Lyle was just two and half and he still need a dad, and so I was fine with my husband going around with his new fling, every day. Yes, I tried to say the same thing again and again. But you knew, how one couldn’t forget the thing they wanted to forget, it was like that to me.
I constantly saw his body wrapped around a woman; his lips kissing her saying how much he loved her and then I started to hate the faceless figure of that woman too. The hatred was big, massive. I waited for the time to explode, but it didn’t, yet.
After that I was just a walking machine. I did all my works. I did my job perfectly well.
One day it became all so intense and unbearable, I left with Lyle. The hatred was suffocating me and I knew I would die with these thoughts constantly swirling around in my mind, eating me slowly, but steadily.
The smile Lyle gave me when I picked our bag was the only strength which pushed me out. Lyle did want a dad, but he didn’t want one that would pretend to be happy with him. And he wanted a mom, and I knew I would never be the mom he needed when I stayed here. That made my decision for me.
I remembered the day I left. It was winter. The mist was thick and the leaves were covered with the white snow, looking pure and untainted. I wanted to feel happy again and that instant I made a promise to myself that I’d be happy, but time, it was tricky.
So when I left the state, I was happy, at least I pretended to be. The emptiness I had was blown away by the air, like the leaves during the fall.
When the flight landed, the constant sting in my heart had vanished. It was like a miracle. I just realized letting go could create a wonder in you.
I started new life. I met a new man. I fell again in love, but I still found the branches of doubt growing inside me at times. I was turning into someone I wasn’t. I was cynical, doubtful and suspicious every day- that I started to hate myself.
Everything was great, peaceful and serene, but my heart wasn’t enjoying it. Everything was as I wished, but I was spoiling them again. I knew, I wanted to stop myself from destroying my life, but I couldn’t.
Moving apart felt good, but still somewhere deep inside, I resented him, my ex-husband, and my first love. I forgot him, almost; but I didn’t forgive him for what he did to me, what he made me to become.
At times I would fight with the man who now loved me, irrespective of my cynical self.
Drew had eyes of a saint; his patience was like a solid rock which prevented me from drowning deep inside, but I couldn’t still trust him completely.
Love was one thing, but trust, it was different.
“Who’s she?” I would yell at him at time.
He’d stare at me, his eyes understanding and the guilt would eat me away.
I never showed that I was hurting every time that I had tried to hurt him. It had become a very sick entertainment. I needed this guilt, I needed this misery. I loved this pain like a drug. It soothed me at time; it enraged me at time; but I didn’t let it go.
“She’s my co-worker. It’s a business dinner.” He’d say and though I knew it was true, I would shake my hand and point my fingers at him.
“You’re lying.” Deep down it was me, who was lying again and again. It was me who was trying to stop me from feeling this happiness.
“I never lie.” That was him. He was through and through an honest man. His eyes never held guilt when I asked him, when I blamed him. What shone in the depth of his eyes was- understanding.
Some other night, we would sit together, watching movies with Lyle in between us. I would smile and he would laugh. Those times were very rare, but they were still there too. That was what made our relationship strong. I tried to break it, but he kept it intact. I didn’t know why he just didn’t give up on me, but I was thankful.
As my happiness grew, I could also feel the depression grew together too.
Happiness and sorrow were like the twin sisters inside me. I always felt the dejection, even though the happiness was still there. It was a mysterious process; a confusing combination. I couldn’t find why I feel like it, but I felt it in me.
I was going to fall apart again, this time it was because I couldn’t find it in me to forgive him, my ex-husband, Alex for what had happened between us. It had been a year, but I still kept the memory close.
His lips pasted against her; his clothes discarded around; his naked body tangled around her like a vine; his lustful voice saying he loves her; as he made love with the other woman who was not me…
That scene was the poison for my soul. It was what that made me awake at night. He broke three years of promise, vows that one night and I was still living in it.
Life was going like a stream, with small bumps here and there. I worked in a local restaurant. Lyle was going to kindergarten.
Drew was still waiting for me to become normal. One night, he had advised me that I should go see a psychiatrist. That night I went berserk and asked him to go die in the hell and never ever come to this house. He just shrugged and said when I needed him, I should call him.
I pushed him away finally and that made the pain grew deeper, more painful.
When I saw a man and woman walking round, the man holding a small boy over his shoulder, I immediately would think about my ex-husband.
We never divorced, our marriage was still legally intact, but it was broken spiritually, morally and emotionally. The trust was broken and I knew our marriage should end or I wouldn’t ever live wholly again.
That decision was strengthen when I felt my new love starting to move apart, because he realized I needed the distance. Yes, I had called him after our fight, but we never met face to face. It had been a month now and Lyle was starting to ask ‘Where is Drew?’ repeatedly.
That night I called Drew and asked him to come. He said he would be there in a minute and like he said, he was there.
“I am going to my hometown.” I had announced to Drew.
He looked at me through his soulful brown eyes and nodded. He understood me most of the times and I knew he didn’t deserve the way I was treating him.
He made me smile again, but I was slowly destroying his smile. I wanted to make this right.
I walked towards him, touched his face and he sighed as he leaned towards my touch. It hurt me to know I was the reason for the black circle around his eyes and the small stubble. And still, he looked handsome.
“I am sorry Drew. I know I am making you miserable, and I know I am starting to push you away. But I can’t just do this with the memories of my old marriage still with me. The past is haunting me. I had tried to pack it inside the box and put it aside, but now I feel like it is coming back with more force. I want this to end. I don’t know how though.” I said weakly. His eyes melted as he pulled me inside the hug.
“I will be here for you, Jenny; trust me. And I will say go meet him and end it for once and all. Get the divorce you wanted and then come back. We will take it from there, together.” His eyes were promising me.
I held me close to him for so long. He was that rock I needed, and I realized just how much I loved him right now. He was like the distant star at the night when I needed the light.
He was a promise, but he never promised me straight. But I always knew he’d always be there for me. I felt stupid when I realized how I tried to push him away, hurt him and all. I was ashamed of myself.
“I am really sorry.” I whispered and kissed him on the lips. He kissed me back; his hands wrapped around me in an embrace and said ‘Good luck, love!’
I left Lyle with my best friend, travel all the way back to my hometown, with only one wish. I had to end this marriage and end this creeping sorrow inside my heart. I needed to start a new life with Drew and for that I needed a closure.
When I neared the old home I had lived, my heart began to beat louder and louder. The small voice in my back ordered me to turn around and run away. I didn’t, instead I took the first step towards my happiness and knocked at the door.
The lump on my throat grew bigger as I waited. I remembered all those times I spent inside this house. Those were all beautiful memories.
The door opened and I gasped in shock.
There he was, Alex, his eyes sunken inside his bony face. His fingers were shivering and he looked as if he was dying. All the time I had cursed him sprang back in front of my eyes and I wondered whether it was my curse that did it to him. I wasn’t sure.
“Jennifer?” His voice was low, broken and choked. I nodded my head; my words had escaped and I was now alone, with nothing to say to him.
“Come in.” He opened the door wide. I stepped in and coughed as I breathed in the suffocating smell. It smelled like puke, sweat and everything dirty mixed together.
I didn’t know what had happened to him, but I knew it was irreparable.
“How are you?” I asked in a low tone.
“You can see it, Jennifer.” He pointed to himself and looked down. He then looked at me, and started to whisper, “It’s Cancer. The guilt was eating me, slowly creeping in, snaking around my heart and soul, and destroying my health. I regretted the day I wanted to go for another woman Jennifer. You were like a God’s gift, but I threw you away, like you were just a trash. I don’t know why I did what I did, but I did it. And this is my punishment.” He shed tears for the first time in his life.
He was strong; he was too strong from his own good. He never showed his emotions out and I had never seen him shed tears, not even when his mother died, not even when our first baby died. But here he was, asking me to forgive him and shedding tears.
‘At the depth of forgiveness lies the magic if healing. Its workings are not ours to understand. The miracle of forgiveness heals our souls, steeped as it is in the purest, cleanest waters of love.’
I once had read it in a book by Auriela McCarthy.
The words rang inside my head as I stood up.
“I forgive you Alex.” I said silently and then stood up.
I cleaned the house, put a new blanket for his bed and adjusted all the things around. He simply stared at me as I worked. When I finished, I made him lunch.
We were sitting at the table, eating lunch. The silence was peaceful, contenting.
“Thank you Jenny; I was worried that I would never meet you before I die. But here you’re and I know God brought you here. How are you?”
“I am good.” I said in a hushed tone, as if talking any louder would break him.
I wanted to ask for the divorce, but I didn’t want to sound selfish. He was going to die, and the love that I felt for him once made me sad for him.
“How is Lyle?” His voice was sad and his eyes stared at the distance. I could say he missed Lyle.
“Lyle’s fine.” And then we didn’t talk.
After one hour, I left his home and went straight for the airport.
This time I didn’t pretend to be happy, I was really happy that I met him before he died. I felt sad that he was suffering, but I was also happy that I met him one last time and forgave him.
When he cheated, something had broken inside me, something I didn’t know how to mend. But now I knew- it was forgiveness.
Carrying the past and betrayals in your shoulder simply weigh you down, not those people. So pardoning was easier than holding the grudge. It would save our soul and silence our mind.
I really wanted to hold on to the grudge and never forgive, but who was I to prevent myself from enjoying my life.
The feeling of resentment only killed my own happiness, so I was now letting it all go away and I welcomed this new calmness that wrapped itself around my heart.
Now I could smile easily, I could breathe easily. It was as if a solid rock had been removed from my chest.
We come across all sort of bends. We will think that it’s the end, but they really will just be a new beginning. The fall I faced was really deep and painful, and I fought the pain the wrong way. The fight should have been a simple forgiveness, instead of resentment.
Not everyone would be blessed with fur blankets at the winter time, but think about that person who wouldn’t even have a shelter to hide! More or less, most of us were lucky. I was lucky; I had Lyle; I had Drew. I was more than lucky.
I now knew about the easy way to fight the betrayals and I realized I was happy I learnt it, though too late.
“The secret for happy life lies not in forgetting, but accepting it and moving past. PAST is DEAD. Future is completely far-off and right now is what that really matters!”
I whispered to myself before I started towards my new home, my new life and my new love. It was going to be a happy life, I was sure of it and finally I felt free to smile easily, without that constant block in my heart.
When I stepped inside the airport, two of my boys waiting for me with their face filled with a wide grin, and I smiled back, just as big and wide.