Momma, I’m hungry! Wake up, Momma!
Jack is butting my leg with his forehead and standing beside my bed. It is 6:15. I have to get them dressed and to daycare. The day hasn’t even begun and I’m already anxious.
I turn over my shoulder and see Bella standing beside me. She gives me a big hug and says “Hello, sugarplum.” She is ready to sit in the courtroom and glare at Daniel at the appropriate moments. I’m glad she is with me. Last week in a phone call she said that it felt appropriate for her to be here today, since she had been there when we were married.
I found this note from her yesterday in our wedding album. I’m saving it for my kids:
Dearest Madeline, Dearest Daniel,
Knowing you apart, knowing you together has been a wonderful time for us. The road felt rocky and long sometimes, Madeline, but the end was dazzling. Daniel, darling, you know how much we adore you and you will love and cherish Madeline for yourself and for us as well. We wish you great joy and a long and fulfilling life. With all our love, Bella and Martin
Bella, my attorney and I are waiting for the courtroom to open up. Daniel walks up with his attorney. We exchange a few looks and make small talk, shifting uneasily. He shakes my hand. His palm is dripping.
In the last couple of weeks I have been thinking about this day and what it will mean. I have at once looked forward to and dreaded it. Change is hard. And even though Daniel and I have not lived together for two and a half years, this is a life-changing event, this fifteen-minute court proceeding.
All day I have been receiving emails, IMs and phone calls from friends and family wishing me well. Many of them, like Bella, were at our wedding.
I take one last call before going into the courtroom, turn my phone off and take a deep breath.
I am overwhelmed by hope and excitement, relief and sadness; I will myself not to cry. Once that faucet opens, it’s hard to shut off.
I have to state my name and address and the ages of my children. I have to say why there is no hope for my marriage.
My attorney is speaking. Her lips move, but the sound is lost to me. His attorney says something, and I start to hear the grownup voice from Charlie Brown: “wah-waaah, wah-waaah..”
I sit, looking at my folded hands on the blonde wood table. I am careful not to shift in my seat; Daniel’s attorney just did that and it made a terrible noise. I am just breathing. I start counting the lengths of my inhalations and exhalations, lengthening each one.
The judge is speaking:
“On this, the Twenty-First day of June, 2005, the marriage of Madeline and Daniel is officially dissolved. Due to irreconcilable differences between the parties, divorce is hereby granted.”