My daughter-in-law said it wouldn’t change anything. She promised things would be exactly the same as they had been for the past nine years. But, I knew everything would change.
Although my son and his wife had separated several months earlier, I still prayed everyday they would be able to work things out. I loved her like a daughter and my heart was breaking for my six-year-old grandson. I didn’t want him to suffer the same hardships my three children had endured when I had divorced their father twenty-five years earlier.
Now, she was telling me she had met someone new. I cried; I couldn’t help myself. I knew this would mean there was no chance she and my son would ever get back together. She felt bad telling me about her new love; I have no doubt she loves me and didn’t want to hurt me. Maybe she really did believe things would remain the same for me, after all, I would always be grandma and that is the one thing nothing could never change.
Luckily, my son shares joint custody with his ex-wife, so I see my little grandson often when he’s with his daddy. But when he is with his mommy, he is at the house my son and daughter-in-law had shared before they broke up—the house where my six-year-old grandson has lived since he was just a few months old. This cozy house had been like a haven to me. I always felt welcome there no matter what time of day or night. I loved their home as much, maybe even more, than I did my own home. My grandson and I played, laughed, and shared silliness in every corner of every room and closet of that rambling old house.
Now, the new man lives in this house and I haven’t been there since he moved in. I stopped by once—before he had actually moved in—but, he was there and it was so awkward for all of us that I left almost immediately. My grandson asks why I don’t come to hang out there with him anymore, or why grandpa doesn’t stop by all the time like he used to, and we don’t know how to respond other than to say we’ve been really busy lately or some other lame excuse that I’m sure he knows is just that…a lame excuse. We try to make up for it by spending time with him in other ways, but it’s so hard because his life is split in half now between the time he spends with his daddy and the time he spends with his mommy.
I want to go there—to that home where I spent so many happy times—and just hang around like I used to do; I want to go there so badly it actually hurts just to think about it. But, as I knew it would, everything has changed now. I don’t blame my ex-daughter-in-law for moving on; she and my son’s relationship was just not meant to be anymore. She has tried to make an effort to stay in touch with me, but of course, she doesn’t include me in anything she and my grandson does with her new man. Why would she put us all in that awkward situation again? I understand. Besides, the house where my son had once lived; had once put all of his hopes and dreams of a happy future in; had helped remodel to make it the perfect house for his family; had once shared in the raising of his son for six years, is now filled with another man’s things. Another man is sitting at the dining table where we had all shared so many meals; this man is relaxing in the recliner in the living room where we had watched so many movies and had so many family get-togethers, he is using the beautiful shower my son had been so proud of building, and he is sleeping in the big bed in the master bedroom, next to my grandson’s room where I had spent so many nights having slumber parties or just spending the afternoon playing. So many cherished memories still dwell in my mind and heart, but I’m so afraid there will be no more new memories made in that house for me. I can’t even put into words how hard it is for me to write about this, let alone, live with the reality of it.
When I drive through the little town where this house is located, which about 20 minutes from the little town where I live, I don’t drive down the street where the house sits because it hurts too much. I can see the roof of the house from the main street as I drive through, and I always cry no matter how hard I try not to, but I can’t help myself. Because, everything has changed. On the days my grandson is at this house, he is sharing his life with a new man, and the new man’s family and friends. They are people I don’t know. I used to be a constant part of my ex-daughter-in-law’s family. When they were visiting, I was always included in everything they did. I love them all. I miss them so much. Ever since the new man entered the picture over eight over months ago, I have not seen them or talked to any of them. I suppose they are getting to know the new guy’s family now and sharing their lives with them. Maybe they think I should make the first move to stay in touch? Maybe I am, like my son, just a part of their past.
I’ve cried more in the past few months than I’ve ever cried in my entire life. This is the only divorce I’ve ever suffered through that was not my own and I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do? Old clichés about moving on and starting over don’t really apply to this situation. I wonder how long it will take before I can stop crying about a divorce that isn’t even mine. Something tells me it will take a very long time.