When grieving the end of a marriage people tell you that the evenings will be the hardest part, but that’s not true. Not for me, anyway.
When you’re a parent, mornings rage in like thunderstorms, startling you from sleep and smashing you over the head with needs, wants, demands and expectations. Mornings are noisy and frantic. Despite how prepared you feel the night before, each morning brings with it its own new catastrophe. Someone lost something. Someone forgot a spirit day. Someone finished the last of the favourite cereal. All of the favorite lunchbox treats are gone. There are seeds in the bread.
At the end of my marriage I expected to feel at lose ends in the evenings. But, as is often the case in life, reality serves up unexpected hurt, and for me (even a year later) that hurt comes in the morning.
Let’s just make it to bedtime without killing each other
Since becoming a parent, the evenings have always been my goal posts. Children are fed and bathed. Whatever happened that day, good or bad, is behind you and the next day brings a fresh new blank page. The little arguments we had have been resolved – or they haven’t – but either way those children are safe and softly snoring, and even if you didn’t earn a gold star for the day, you at least get a checkmark. You may not have exceeded expectations, but dammit, you met them.
Evenings have a charm and a lightness. The quiet of evenings has a peaceful quality to it. The sofa is softer because you know that you can sit for more than a moment. The tea tastes better because you know you’ll be able to drink it while it’s still hot. TV is funnier and more entertaining, complete with sex and swearwords.
I expected that the evenings would be the hardest because of the dark, but it’s the bright light of morning that takes my breath away.
The sound of silence
Every other week I languish in the mornings. I lay in bed and listen to the silence for a moment and I find no pleasure in it. I yearn for the chaos that I always thought I hated and now crave.
I’ve never not had a human to wake up to – whether it was a partner rolling toward me with a stretch and a groan, or a child with his knees shooting daggers into my back. I’ve also always had a morning soundtrack: A television, an argument, cupboards and drawers opening and closing, and of course the sound of that epic morning pee and subsequent (if I’m lucky) flush.
So often these days, I wake up to silence, and now (thanks to the pandemic), I shuffle into work in silence. I don’t greet the neighbour as I get into my car because working from home I have nowhere to go.
Hey. How you doin’?
But not so long ago I rolled over in bed, grabbed my phone and spotted a text that had been sent five minutes earlier, which read simply: “Good morning!”
That was all. That was it.
The “good morning!” asked for nothing. What it gave, however, was a reminder that just because it sounds as if I’m alone, I’m not.
It reminded me that I’m not the only one living so quietly these days, and that this pandemic solitude can be breached through intentional and thoughtful connection.
In other words, good mornings are now on the menu. When you receive a “good morning” from me, here’s what it means:
I care about you. I’m thinking about you. I am happy because I know you. I am grateful that you are in my life. It is a privilege to be your friend, your mom, your lover, your daughter, or your colleague.
And what I realized also is that good mornings don’t have to be quite so explicit. Maybe they’re just a funny meme, or a news story that you read that relates to a conversation you just had. Maybe a “good morning” is just a gif, a joke you heard, or maybe it’s an in depth retelling of a super weird dream.
That’s all. And that’s so much.
I can’t always hear the folks who love me, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
So, good morning, beautiful.