Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A powerful column by Bob Lonsberry

Drown Out What I Can't Stand to Hear

We were married by a Catholic priest in the chapel at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

We had the reception at the NCO Club.

That was 25 years ago today.

This would have been our silver anniversary. Our kids would have thrown us a party, and family and friends would have come from far and wide. We would have posed for pictures that would have hung years from now in our grandchildren’s rooms.

But none of that is going to happen.

We divorced years ago. I don’t remember exactly how many. It was my fault. I crashed the plane. And now this day will pass in silence. We all will politely ignore the significance of the date. Our children will never get to throw that party, that picture will not hang in our grandchildren’s rooms.

It’s Humpty Dumpty.

And I write this because my dread of this day has made me think of the countless others who have or who will pass a similar sorrowful milestone. It’s hell when dreams die, when happily ever after isn’t how the story ends. It’s hell when it’s your fault, it’s worse when it’s not.

It’s one thing to throw away your own happiness, it’s another to rob someone else of theirs.

You think of stuff like that on days like this.

You think of what should have been and what cannot be, and you know what drives drunks to drink. Some nightmares you don’t wake up from. They are just the way it is.

And hell may trump that for duration, but not for intensity.

I may never have figured out how to love, but I sure do feel its absence. I’m not good at knowing I’m happy, but I’m keenly aware of being sad.

But this isn’t a maudlin introspection, a George Jones song written without meter or rhyme, it is a recognition that there’ve been a lot of people down this road, and that I’m sorry for them.

And if I could shout to all who follow behind, I would give warning, “Don’t come this way. This is the swamp. Don’t come this way.” Stay faithful, never quit, make it work. Simple, trite, and true. No other success can compensate for failure in the home, and no bandage can cover that wound.

I’ve gone on, whatever that means. I have a new wife, and more children, and I love them and am grateful for them. And consequently I can only be grateful for the circumstances that brought them to me. But it was a hard journey and a high price, and I expect to pay it for all eternity.

I am the third successive generation of my family to divorce, My grandparents, my parents and I. We each failed at the only thing that mattered. It has been nearly a hundred years since a silver anniversary has been celebrated in my family. What a horrific curse and a poisonous legacy. All I can do now is look to my children and pray that they are better than I.

I have a handicap of memory, and cannot remember many things. I need other people to remind me and tell me about events from the past. My former wife is who I ask when I have a question about my mother or grandmother, or even the people from my hometown. My current wife helps me remember more recent events. It is an odd series of black holes.

But this I can’t forget. This I am doomed to remember.

It’s Humpty Dumpty.

And that is all I will say about this. Today will be just another day. I will go to work and try to make the shows worthwhile. I need to go through some pictures for the stations’ websites, I need to get a haircut, I need to write a column for tomorrow. Maybe I’ll get in a run and maybe I’ll go pick some more apples for cider.

And I’ll ignore what today would have been.

I’ll turn up the volume of life to drown out what I can’t stand to hear.

Bob is a great talk show host with a real gift for writing. You may have heard him on my show from the DNC convention a few weeks ago. I think this piece will strike a cord with many of you.


At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great piece on the sad state of the American family landscape. Relationships take work, something that - sadly today - folks just don't want to engage in while running around to soccer, cheer, football, Sunday service, Wednesday worship, etc.

After 27 years of marriage, I know that it's not always easy. You'll not find that sentiment from anyone that's been married for more than say, 5 years or so.

Compromise is the word of the day - along with "conflict management" because no matter what your stance, you must be able to come to a mutual understanding or things go down hill fast.


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