March 14, 2008

The End of Days

Category: News — Ira @ 6:31 pm

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“The Ides of March are come.”

—Shakespeare, “Julius Caesar”
__________________________

March is the cruelest month.

The month of madness, betrayal, rage and pain.

They were in trouble and they knew it. During that summer of 2006. They existed together, but that was all. Their marriage would soon be over as well, barring a miracle. They spoke through the vast distance that separated them. Attended church together. Smiled in public. Even laughed together. Genuinely. People thought, what a nice, well adjusted couple. They so complement each other. But the perception was false and hollow. And they knew it was not true.

They had separated once before, for six months, a few years back. Both had worked on what it took to get back together. Attended counseling sessions. Talked. They reunited on the first day of spring, March 20. And everything went OK for awhile. But something under the surface always rankled, something not right. She was unfulfilled. He did not trust her. Mired in the issues that had separated them, they drifted apart again. The shaky foundations they had built together deteriorated. Over time, into nothing.

The summer drifted by, week by week. They talked now and then. Seriously, about their future, and whether it would be with each other. They attended a relative’s wedding out of state, in June. Hung out with his family.

She’d always wanted to see Valley Forge, so one Saturday morning in late August they packed a picnic basket and went there. Parked and got out. Walked the little paved path that traverses the perimeters of the camp and battlefield. Beautiful day. Windy, though. And unseasonably cool. Clouds obscured the sun for minutes at a time. They walked along, chatting amiably.

At mid-point they found a stone bench. And sat and talked. She told him she was leaving. He already knew. They had discussed it before. He didn’t want her to go, but didn’t know what to say. He knew he couldn’t convince her. She wanted actions, not words. He knew she was unfulfilled. Felt unpursued. She expressed her frustrations that day, clearly. Not in anger, but honestly, with feeling.

Gloom descended on him. He heard her speak, but her words might as well have been spoken in another language.

“I will never be able to be what you want,” he said. “The kind of man you want does not exist. Or marriage either.”

“You won’t, if that’s how you feel,” she said. “You won’t even try.”

He could live without her. He’d seen and experienced hard things before. Brutal life-altering things. Years ago, in another lifetime. Before he’d ever met her. Walked away when he thought it would kill him. It had taught him that when all else was stripped away, in silence or after all the words that could be spoken had been said, each person ultimately stands alone. And walks alone. There was no one he couldn’t live without. No one. He had learned the lesson well. He would survive.

He looked at her, then away. At the people strolling past. He fleetingly wondered what problems they were facing. If any of them could relate to him. He turned back to her.

“I have a lot of faults, I know,” he said simply. “The way you say. But I’m a good man. And you know I’m a good man.”

A white cotton-candy cloud swept across the sun. The air chilled instantly. They got up and walked on into the wind.

The weeks passed. Things were going on. And had been for most of the year. Evil things. He sensed it or should have. But he was bogged in a stupor of depression and despair. So maybe he just chose not to see what became so clear in retrospect. He hunkered down and waited for the day to come. Her plans were made. And she told him. All was set. She would leave in March.

March. The date seemed far away, yet so close. As the days counted down to D-Day, he felt it in the distance like some huge, looming storm. Approaching slowly, moving toward him inexorably, relentlessly.

He feared growing old alone.

They had one major fight, in early January. On a Saturday afternoon. She was packing her things in plastic storage containers she had bought at Wal Mart. He paced about the house, perturbed.

“It’s never going to work,” he said. “You going all the way out there and staying with her. She’s strong-willed. As you are. You two are going to fight. It’ll never work.” He walked back into the room where she was packing.

She was coming to confront him, her face contorted with rage. “Stop it right now,” she screamed. “All you do is walk around saying smug, stupid things. Stop it.” Tears of rage rolled down her cheeks.

He walked into the living room and sat on the couch, shaking. She raged on. He waited until the tirade subsided.

“You are my wife, and I love you,” he said dully. “What am I supposed to do, just sit around and watch you leave? We are married. You are my wife. I am your husband. To me, that means something.”

They both trembled with tension. And anger and frustration and stress. She struggled to control herself.

“You’ve known I am leaving,” she said, more calmly. “And you haven’t done anything to stop it. Now all of a sudden you act like you don’t want me to go.”

“I’ve never wanted you to go,” he retorted. “You know that. You are the one who’s leaving. I’m not.”

She looked at him and the rage seemed to drain from her. She spoke his name, which was unusual. They rarely addressed each other by name anymore.

“Your heart has left this marriage a long time ago,” she said.

He got up without a word and walked out to his truck. He drove around on the back roads aimlessly for an hour.

D-Day minus one. A Wednesday. He went to work as usual, then to the gym. Tried to approach the day as normally as possible. His great fear was that he would break down as she was leaving. He dreaded the actual moment.

She would leave early the next morning. He had arranged to take the day off from work. He would go work out at the gym, then meet a close friend at noon. At a park for a few hours. Just to talk it out. Help him through that fateful day.

She had packed all her things. He helped her carry the plastic storage boxes to the garage, where they would stay until she could come and retrieve them. All the stuff she would take with her was packed in suitcases and bags and boxes.

Evening came and darkness fell. Her car was parked outside, at the end of the short walkway. Pointed toward the road.

Around nine o’clock, she was ready to load. He lugged out the large suitcase and placed it in the trunk. Then stuffed in boxes and bags and jammed the trunk lid down. Then he crammed the back seat with boxes and bags until it was full.

They chatted amiably. He felt strange. Surreal. But he held up.

He knew that when she drove away the next morning, she would never return.

They talked. He asked her to text him when she arrived at her destination. So he’d know she was safe. She said she would.

They went to bed late, after eleven o’clock. She gave him half an Ambien so he could sleep, and took the other half herself. Mercifully, they both fell asleep in minutes.

They slept through the night.

The clattering alarm roused them. He awoke. And realized the date was here. That had loomed so fearfully in his mind for so long.

She got up and he heard her puttering around in the kitchen and the bathroom. Getting ready to leave their home. He lay there in bed. Awake. And numb.

The final moment. She walked through the bedroom doorway.

“I’m ready,” she said.

“Take care,” was all he could think to say. That was all. Nothing profound.

She approached him and stood by the side of the bed. Leaned above him. Placed her arm around him. Said a short prayer. For traveling safety. For herself. For strength. For him. He said nothing.

She walked out of the bedroom. The kitchen light went dark. He heard the porch door shutting softly.

And then she was gone.

He lay there, but sleep did not come again.

After awhile, he got up. Took a shower. Got dressed. An evil pulse throbbed silently through the house, a harbinger of the brutal truths that would emerge in the coming months.

The eastern sky shimmered with the brilliant hues of dawn. The day broke. It would be clear and sunny.

It was March. The cruelest month.

He walked outside alone to face the world.

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(15 Comments) »

  1. This post hurts. It is painful. I care.

    Comment by Katie Troyer — March 14, 2008 @ 6:40 pm

  2. Ernest Hemingway.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — March 14, 2008 @ 8:20 pm

  3. The dark valley and the foothills behind you, on the high summit you now stand with the eagles. Keep climbing. Love ya, Uncle!

    Comment by Andrew Yutzy — March 14, 2008 @ 9:13 pm

  4. heart-rendering post!

    Comment by wilma — March 14, 2008 @ 9:21 pm

  5. It took courage, raw courage to write this, and I applaud the guts it took to do it. Especially the courage to leave a lot of things, hurtful things, unsaid. Love ya.

    Comment by Rachel — March 15, 2008 @ 12:06 am

  6. I wept.

    Comment by RagPicker — March 15, 2008 @ 1:00 am

  7. Oh, the hurt and pain of broken families…satan desires nothing more than to defeat the plan of God..to overthrow….the wounded and fallen are all around us. He is a thief that has come to steal, kill and destroy. Jn. 10:10…

    So for those of us that are still together, let’s agree with God, up, and let us build,..it is hard work, pray together and for each other. Live much, laugh often, love and cherish each other….not taking the family for granted.

    Comment by Raymond and Magdalena — March 15, 2008 @ 11:49 am

  8. The cost of selfishness is greater then the cost of sacrifice.

    Heartfelt words that speak to the hearts of those who read them.

    Comment by John — March 16, 2008 @ 9:32 pm

  9. Thank you for your courage to share your heartache most can only imagine.

    Comment by sms — March 16, 2008 @ 10:06 pm

  10. Wow! Once again well written….I am proud of you uncle! Love you!

    Comment by Dorothy — March 17, 2008 @ 12:50 pm

  11. Pullin’ for ya, uncle!

    Comment by jason yutzy — March 17, 2008 @ 5:01 pm

  12. I’ve thought of you often this month. Very deep, deep post. I’m still praying for you Ira!

    Comment by Judy S — March 18, 2008 @ 9:34 am

  13. I hope you will continue the story, though much of it is known.

    I fear to offer words. What I hear in my own heart, on reflection, is this echo: “Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life.” Not for others, but for myself. Merciful God Is.

    Comment by LeRoy Whitman — March 20, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

  14. I agree that March is cruel, and the month of madness and rage and pain and yes most of all betrayal. I don’t speak from bitterness but from understanding and just wanted to tell you that you are special to God and just reading your story gave me hope that I can make it through what we are going through. We have to leave our children of 12 years here and the goodbyes are still in front of us. We have 9 children that are like our own. Look up my xanga if you want to know what is going on. I know it is very important what we do with our pain.

    If you pray, whisper one for us.

    Ruth

    Comment by Ruth Eicher — March 25, 2008 @ 3:22 pm

  15. How terribly, horribly sad. I wanted to yell at you both. I wanted to scream-“Don’t do this! Please say something, do something!” But I have no earthly idea what your story was together.

    I do know this; Sometimes there are seasons when it’s really hard work. Your feelings are screaming one thing and your common sense and commitment to each other, to God, are quietly whispering something else. My friend once told me the first ten years of her marriage were extremely difficult. The first ten!

    I’m just guessing the hideous thing that was revealed to you later was Ellen’s affair. How very cruel and selfish. And how very human. I truly hope with my whole heart that that dear woman has found peace in her life.

    Ira, my friend, I hope you have not allowed this situation to put a damper on finding love for yourself again, if this is something you desire. Some men do perfectly well staying single. Some do not. That’s something you have to decide for yourself. You have a lot to offer either way.

    About a year ago there was some Christian book out that said the one thing a man needs most from his wife is respect. And the woman most needs love from her husband. Actually, they got this idea directly from Scripture so it must be right on. Of course, love…well, that’s a huge umbrella. There are many ways that love can be shown.

    Comment by Francine — July 28, 2014 @ 1:34 am

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