Pity., originally uploaded by Christopher Rauch.
My neighbor is getting a divorce for Christmas.
My heart breaks. (For some reason, people talk to me, and I am amazed repeatedly at the level of disclosure individuals communicate to me casually. There is a post in there somewhere, but I digress.)
I remember my divorce. It nearly killed me, and even today- 4 years hence, I get a little funny, slow to let a woman get to know me.
My parents divorced when I was eleven, and my sister was two. I think of this, when my neighbor's children speak to me. The call me Mr. Chris, or in the case of the little girl, Mwistah Kwis. I get along with children, though I have none of my own. I wonder about this sometimes, what these two find winsome about me. I have been told I appear intimidating, and that I am arrogant. Nonetheless, my neighbor's kids have taken to me like fish to water. I actually have had to be a little firm. The little shits began to just walk up in my house, without so much as a knock on the door, like they owned the place. This is not a good in today's world, when a man lives alone. I liked it though. I was a little sad that I had to put a stop to it.
The kids know something is going on, and they say hello as we bump into one another in the driveway, spectators... watching mom and dad dismantle the family they have grown up thinking of as their world, an integral part of themselves. People come help Dad, and take some stuff to one place, and other people come help Mom, and take stuff to some other place. It's like we're are watching the amputation of a limb, but they are too anesthetized to fully comprehend the import of this operation, and the fact that it is happening to them. They will never forget this Christmas.
The teenagers are a little more distant. It's the young ones that think of me as one of their peeps. The kids I'm talking about are maybe four and six. I've taken pictures of them. Let them disrupt my schedule. Packed up bottles of water and taken them for a walk. They are delighted with my dog, Suzy. To watch her catch a frisbee is a huge treat for them, and Mr. Chris is a magician, or a prophet. I wish I had had children, and I am angry. I grieve. I wish they were gonna have a better Christmas. I remember being in their position...
I walked home from school, to the first house my family owned.... less than a mile from where I live today. (actually, my parents bought a house previously, before we PSCed, but I was too young to remember.) Someone, either Mom or Dad told me to come to my room, downstairs. There, my mother explained to me that she would leave, as my father remained silent. I imagine this was negotiated. I think the deal was: "This is your idea, YOU tell him." My mother was crying, struggling to speak, explaining details beyond my comprehension. I began to cry.
Everyone was crying.
I'm not gonna go too far down that path in this post, but of all the things where I may bear some slight resemblance to my savior, my feelings about divorce are probably as close as humanly possible to the divine benchmark. God hates divorce, and so do I. Donald Miller tells us that some 80 percent (I think... don't quote me) of our prison inmates grew up without a father in the house.
I wonder what went through God's mind when he divorced Israel. I second guessed. I agonized. I wondered if I was giving up to soon. At least I had someone I could pray to. That staggers me. God went through a divorce, and he had no one to pray to. I know today that divorce is distressingly common, and these kids won't stick out like sore thumbs, the way my sister and I did, but still my heart goes out, and I am sad for them.