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Confessions From the Past

The Chapter About November 7th, Twenty-Four Years Ago


Not everything that falls apart is broken.

Today would have been my parents’ 24th wedding anniversary. They’d lived in a little upstairs apartment in a small town with a pet cat. Mom was a year younger than I am now, 21, and Dad just a few years older.

When it was time to make my appearance in 1994, we lived in a little trailer out in the country. I know, most people’s first thought is, “A trailer?” But this one was different. It was small, sure, but it was cozy as they come. We lived at the bottom of a hill, just behind some trees, in the most beautiful little country plot. I had a big yard to roam around in and Mom had tons of room for gardening and planting her flowers. We even had a little basketball hoop for Dad, remember that? I hope you still do.

I can still remember, even at three and four years old, waking up in the mornings to Dad sitting on the couch with a bowl of cereal, newspaper in one hand, and the TV on the news. I’d sit with him, eating my own little bowl of cereal, and then hug him and send him off to work. After that, Mom would get me ready for daycare and off we’d go. We’d reconvene for dinner every night.

One night during dinner, I specifically remember telling my parents, “I think we need another member of this group. I get bored sometimes on my own. I want a sister.” They just laughed at my little almost-four-years-old nonsense. Especially since I was spoiled rotten and was rarely left to play alone in the first place. But a year later, Cindy was born and we started building our house.

I was on cloud nine. I felt the complete opposite of what most of the kids in my class were feeling about some of their new brothers and sisters. A sister is all I’d been wanting for what seemed like FOREVER. Well, nine months or so, at least. And now we were getting a HOUSE too?! This was the kind of stuff dreams were made of! By then, we’d also adopted three dogs to add to the beautiful chaos I loved so much. My home was filled to the very brim with people and animals that I loved and that loved me. At four years old, I was living pretty large, if you ask me.

That being said, I don’t have a ton of memories of my parents being together. I remember them taking me to Disneyworld and meeting all my heroes. I remember them both being at every school event I ever had. I remember both of them giving up the TV whenever Cindy or I wanted to watch Barney. In fact, there is not a single instance in my mind where I look back and remember them fighting.

But, as we now know, they were.

I still can’t recall how old I was, but I think it was around 8. We were on vacation with some family friends and left early. In the middle of the night, even. I had no clue what was going on. All I knew from the moment we got back home, was that Dad wasn’t going to live with us anymore. Probably not ever again.

I’m told it was brutal.

There are a few things that stick out in my mind when I think of the divorce. I remember getting family pictures done without Dad in them. I remember sleeping on an air mattress on the floor for a month or so with Dad and Cindy when he finally realized Mom was serious about separating and rented a house. I can vaguely recall Mom having a panic attack at work and having to go with Grandma to pick her up. Dad called Mom names. Mom went out and partied with her newly singly friends most weekends.

I knew things weren’t good.

But, slowly, after a few years, things started to fall into a new order. Dad finally was able to afford some furniture. Mom met someone. As the years went by, we all found ourselves in new lives, not letting the divorce control our every move. My parents each did their very best to provide for us, share us, and still be there for every soccer game, music concert, and parent teacher conference. Separating was never ideal for them, as it isn’t with most married couples, I can imagine, but they always kept us first.

I wanted to remind you of this because I had a brief conversation the other day with someone about being a part of what was called “a broken home.” Through this, I was basically informed that a ‘broken home’ is when your parents split up and, usually, this means you no longer talk to at least one of them.

As you know, and I’m sure still agree, I think this is total bull shit and it took everything I had to refrain from voicing how strongly I feel it is such because I do not at all feel that I’m from ‘a broken home.’ I did not have a falling out with either one of my parents and I do not feel as if my parents’ divorce makes my family any less of a family than anyone else’s.

That being said, that’s not to say it wasn’t hard. It’s not to say that my parents’ situation is something I’d like to model my own relationship after. And it’s not to say I don’t fear for my own future marriage and who I end up with, as you know. It’s something I think about everyday now, as I grow older. Depending on how old you are when you’re reading this, I can imagine you know the outcome, at least a little bit. (At least, I hope you’re married. I’m already 22 and I’m not ready for that quite yet but I’m also not getting any younger, here. But make sure you’re, like, toooootally sure. Okay. You know.)

Today, as you read this, Future Me, Mom has been remarried for seven years and Dad is getting married around this time next year. They still make it a point to be at everything Cindy and I do, as do their significant others. They still make it a point to share us. And they still are each very much in our lives. My mom is my best friend. My dad is my best friend. And I know how lucky I am to be able to get to say that. I grew up with two very strong and supportive role models that I can only hope to model my own parenting after some day.

Not everything that falls apart is broken.