I am forever stumped when I hear of a divorce or long term relationship that’s ended, described as a failed marriage, a failed partnership. Why? Because one of you didn’t attend the other’s funeral? “Til death do us part,” is the thought we tend to believe when we take the leap, sometimes right into the pits of hell on earth, ..but, failed? Still, no. I have a lot to say on the matter. Brace yourself, here comes the authenticity. I met the father of my two incredible kids when I was 21. (yes… TWENTY OOONNNEEE) Anyway, I left Korea four months before him. I had orders to Luke, AFB, AZ. (We were both in the military at the time) I took the “freedom bird” as we called it, back to the States, met my best friend in AZ, flew to TN to pick up my new truck that had been purchased and stored almost immediately at my parent’s house and we drove cross-country, jumping out of planes, partying, visiting all our friends with whom we’d been stationed at the beach, and, living the life of two carefree, now twenty-two year olds. It was good to be back. On the last leg of the trip, my best friend and, now travel-weary companion drew an observation that I thought utterly ridiculous. Across the country, she’d done everything from suggest salad bars to telling me my taste buds had changed after sending a glass of wine back at an Italian restaurant we’d visited in Oklahoma City. We were fueling up at a Texaco, after pulling back into AZ, when she went in and bought a pregnancy test. I COULDN’T BELIEVE she didn’t tell me she thought she was pregnant. As she marched me into the bathroom, she handed it to ME. Well, this would be fast. I peed on the stick. It was so pink, it was purple. There were two lines. I think I stopped breathing. I definitely lost the ability to read more than three words at a time on that EPT box. She opened the second test. Same results. I was pregnant. Life. Just. Changed. I stayed at her grandmother’s house that night with my hand over my abdomen, praying for the first time in a long time. How was I going to do this? I could scarcely make it out of bed to work on time, let alone get up and take proper care of a baby. I called my baby’s dad, we’d only been together six months…what would he say, do, think…It was the wee hours of morning there, I think 3am-ish. I was sobbing. After I got the news out that I was pregnant, he took a deep sigh of relief, “Thank God. I thought you’d been in a car wreck or something.” Oh, no. Nothing THAT serious. Just over here bringing another HUMAN into the world. He flew into AZ the following week and we eloped. We had discussed marriage at one point, but our careers were taking us in different directions for the foreseeable future. The unplanned, but not unwanted, pregnancy changed everything. He returned to Korea to finish his tour for another three months and I now had the very hard-to-follow life of first being pregnant, then married, then living on a separate continent as my husband. As October came around, he was again stateside and we moved to Colorado. Settling into the new lifestyle of nesting vs partying was seamless. No one was more surprised by that fact than yours truly. I loved being pregnant. I bought baby clothes. I redid the nursery four times. I tracked the movement from day to day, I lived to hear the baby’s heartbeat at appointments. And, we found out we were having a boy. The months passed and before we were ready, we were leaving the hospital with no instructions, whatsoever. I was a bit incensed that the hospital staff would just RELEASE that baby to us. They didn’t KNOW us. And, they were just gonna let us leave with him- this tiny, defenseless baby boy. “Yeah. That’s what they do,” my husband said. Life was pretty wonderful. I had the choice to be a stay at home mom and I desperately wanted that life more than anything, from the time I held my son that first minute. By the time he was nearly two, we knew we wanted another. When he turned three years and three months, we welcomed his baby sister into the world. Life was wonderful, still…and again. We had a busy life, a full house, some experience at this parenting thing and we both loved our inlaws. I know. I don’t really know when we began to lose each other, but the fact is…it happened. Not overnight. Not precipitated by an event. It was the frog in the frying pan analogy…by the time we realized we only had the kids in common, it was too late. We couldn’t get it back. 10 years after we’d met, we were filing for divorce. We were both devastated, even though we were both unhappy. We were devastated that we were unhappy. That is what I finally understood. That took some time. There is a tremendous pressure that we all feel when we first utter the word, “divorce.” The guilt. The shame that we couldn’t “stick it out for the kids.” At the same time, I didn’t want to model to my kids that a healthy life meant staying in a miserable situation. It was lose/lose. My kids MAYBE would have been better off with both parents growing up, but damaged as adults with no model of how a true, happy partnership was supposed to look. So, damage them now or later? I felt those were the choices. Then, came the incessant input from our mutual friends. There was not one voice without an opinion. Not one person who stepped up and said, “This is your choice and I support you, both.” Not. One. I bowed out of that group. Oh, hey, guys! If you’re reading this… No hard feelings. Seriously. It’s kind of weird to PUBLICLY say it was none of your damn business. And, I hope you learned as much from that whole mess as I did. I learned that love is never wasted. I learned that we are always right where we’re supposed to be. I learned that it took a million zillion choices made on my part and his, for us to ever even MEET. And, that these two amazing humans could only come into this world by way of US. That’s a pretty big calling. “Um, hi, this is the Universe…yeah, I’m gonna need you to go ahead and make a human with this guy you meet in Korea. Yeah… I know you aren’t in Korea.. But, you will be. Oh. And, I’m gonna need you to make TWO humans. Mmmhmm. With him. One boy, one girl. Yep. K. You’re a doll. Byye.” WTF. Really? Life isn’t supposed to happen like this. Well, kids of the universe, guess what…we’re not that powerful. You can stay. You can go. You can be miserable, happy, or just flatlining through life…but, you won’t change the course you’re meant to live. This gets a little complex. I’m not claiming we have no direct input over our personal lives. I’m saying I CAN look back and say hindsight shows me clearly what I couldn’t see in the midst. I was never meant to be with the father of my kids til I was 80. And, we had a successful marriage. Whaa… Yeah. We. Had. A. Successful. Marriage. I see it every time I look at my daughter and son. I see it when I see the ripples they’ve made in the world. I see it when I see his second wife, whom I adore. And, again, when I see their beautiful daughter. It all played out the way it was meant to. I regret NOTHING about those ten years. If I’d known then what I know now? I’d do it all over again. Is that crazy to someone, right now? I’d marry my ex all over again, and still divorce him? Yeah. It doesn’t need to make sense to you. It’s ok. What I really am trying to drive home is LOVE is NEVER wasted. Love waxes and wanes. Love dies. No, that’s only in Hollywood and Harlequin. Love can be alive and strong this year, and in a year, or five, or ten…it drops dead. You never even noticed it was turning blue in the lips. It just. Falls over. And, you’re both just kind of standing there. Staring at it. Staring at each other. There’s anger. There’s sadness. There’s grief. There’s “if onlys.” But, there was love. And, that it lived is greater than all other fleeting feelings. And, however long it lives, that is its lifespan. A little like a human’s lifespan. Then, you go your separate ways. But, once in a while, long after you’ve healed from the impossible, if you look over your shoulder, you’ll see far behind you, infinite ripples, spreading in all directions, created from a love that was never wasted. Love hard. Love long. Love short. But…love. Peace, Warriors.