It has a ring to it that is distinctly abnormal, doesn't it? That word isn't for us. It's for families where Mom stays home and Dad goes to work from 8-5 and kids sleep in beds with tucked corners and every night there's a casserole and some "tidying up" right before Dad walks through the door, kissing Mom gently on the forehead and kicking off his shoes.
That word is for people who get to rest a little, not people who slap together 1 part law school, 1 part Monty Python, 2 parts Crazies, and 1 part indecisiveness with some Elmer's Glue and Gluten-free Rice Chex and throw it at the wall to see if it will stick. That word isn't for people who separate, come back together, separate "for good", come back together, find help, remarry, act like Crazies for a while, and then decide "once and for all" (for the eightieth time) that they can only be together.
I want to be normal now. Not June Cleaver normal, but Heather & E normal. Yes, the Bar Exam is over. More importantly, the Year of Hell is over. The Bar didn't go as planned for a variety of reasons, most of which will never be covered here. It doesn't matter though. I have my husband back, the kids have their dad back, E has his life back. I've been in a holding pattern since we went to Retrouvaille in February--unable to truly let my hair down and relax because this one box still needed checking. In reality, the one box for the Bar was all-consuming. It meant total change in our lives and there never really was going to be any relaxing until it was over.
Just in the past few months since E and I decided to reconcile:
- Retrouvaille work
- Law school (nights + studying weekends) continued for the 4th year
- My dance show at school (rehearsals + late nights + Craziness)
- My kids' AP test at school
- I decide to become a runner, like, out of NOWHERE
- His final semester finals at law school
- Trip to SF with kids
- Trip to SD without kids (I get horribly, deathly ill and my toe almost dies)
- Vow Renewal Day
- E's graduation
- Lots of trying to keep the dance program afloat at school (stress)
- End of school for me (moving on + life changes, letting go of being the dance teacher)
- Turning 30!
- Bar Bri classes for E and afternoon studying(he is gone all day every day)
- Jam, jam, more jam
- Tahoe, Tahoe, Yosemite (all without E)
- Single Parenting, being scared that it's bad like when we separated
- E moves to his parents' so he can concentrate in the final month
- I move to E's parents' for a week, he comes home to take the test
- Bar Exam
There was one casualty this week, and I feel like he needs memorializing here:
Poor, poor phone. He didn't do anything to deserve a beheading. You could argue that chance just meant that he broke this week, but I think it was both a blessing and another one of those rotten tomatoes. We'll never know, but in any case: We'll miss you, E's Phone.
As Al Swearingen says on Deadwood (and as I'm sure I've quoted here before), "announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh." Yeah. That Al. He sure knows of that which he speaks. The plan: I drive to E's folks, fighting tooth and nail against instinct and intuition, and leave him home with my love, a note to open each morning and each night, and a pile of Gluten-free, E-approved meals and snacks from his mom to last him through the Bar. E will take the test for three days, I will drive down on Thursday night, run in slow motion across the lawn and into his arms, he will pick me up and twirl me around, and we will live happily ever after. I'm prepared for the nightly phone calls where his resolve needs bolstering, and I'm looking forward to the peaceful time at his folks'. I even go so far as to enjoy myself like mad on the first day/night. I crochet. I sit. I eat. I talk. I breathe.
Reality: lunch time phone call the first day. Long husband-wife conversation. Me, driving aimlessly through town in search of Mimi and the kids, ending up at WalMart because I don't find them, but I don't know what to do. Me, walking bleary-eyed around the Wal, dumping $1 school supplies into my cart like an emotional eater dumping spoonfulls of chocolate cake into her yap. One important call in the parking lot. I need to be home. His parents (are there more AMAZING, selfless, generous, caring people on this earth? I think not.) telling me to go, to take care of him, to tell him they love him.
I came home. I didn't even tell anybody. I felt like once the events of this week set in motion, I needed anonymity, and I needed to be able to think about our family. Not that I could have thought about anything else, anyway. I had the brain equivalent of smudgy contact lenses. Nothing seemed real. E and I spent quiet evenings together just being husband and wife, but there was tension in the air and a sense that it just wasn't over yet. This whole week felt to me the same way it feels when someone you love is in the hospital, and you're just sitting there in the awful waiting room chair for hours. There's no time, only a constant state of worry and a complete fading away of all other factors in your life. I decided to high-tail it up the hill every day for the monkeys' swim lessons, then every night it was back home to E. I've put a lot of miles on the car this week, and it took everything within me just to concentrate and focus so I would be making those journeys safely. The next two days were basically repeats of the first, and last night E and I were so tired we could barely celebrate. The best we could manage was eating our own weights in steak and one drink each, topped off by a trip to Best Buy (where else?) and then a marathon of LOST and passing out.
Nothing like that sleep, either. I'm sitting here Googling a quote that's in my head but I can't remember enough of it to find it. It's something like "we'll sleep the sleep the wretched may, after the storm." If that's not it, then I'll be damned. It doesn't exist on the internet though--probably I've gotten some part of it wrong. I believe it's from some piece of literature or poetry that I teach. (How's that for crummy quoting from an English teacher?) But you get it. We slept heavy last night. Peaceful, but almost drunken sleep with the weight of the last several months upon us. "The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much..." (Eccl 5:12, KJV). I would add that his "labouring" wife is pretty sleepy too.
There's an easy happiness here, though. A sense that this chapter is over, and if it only be "for now," then that's life, you know? We need rest. We need family. We need normal, but part of that will be discovering what we want that to mean.