Mr. Faraway starts to ping me on Facebook, when he sees I’m online; I start to stay logged in to Facebook more often. We chat sometimes late into the evenings, about this and that. He’s interested by my genealogical work; we talk about antiques and Doctor Who and books we’ve read and people we both know.
I get updates on the divorce, and one evening mid-January, I inquire where they are with the legal process. Nowhere, he says. They drew up papers dividing everything but nothing has been filed. We chat about that for a bit, then drift away to other topics.
Around midnight, he circles back to her, the wife. It comes out of nowhere, it seems, but he relates a story about his father’s recent death from cancer, and how she told him he “had some nerve to wear it on his sleeve” when he’d never, himself, had cancer, “and probably wouldn’t.”
He talks as though he has to defend his right to his grief and fears, and tells me all the things that he either said to her or wishes he had. I can’t quite tell in the torrent of words and emotions.
Then we circle away – he asks about my job and seems curious and interested; I find out about his work and am startled by how interesting it is.
I’m tired, but he seems to want to talk – to need it – so I stay on.
He asks about The Departed; he’s perplexed. I’ve been vague about what happened, but I also have realized that he’s going to read about it on my blog and I wonder how he will react: if he will flinch and try to pretend he never heard it, like most people do, or if he will start avoiding me, like the guy I met on Match.com who thought I was awesome until he heard and then decided I was too traumatized and thus not ready for a relationship. Or perhaps he will have some sort of normal reaction, though I’m hard-pressed to describe what that might be.
I decide it’s better if he hears it from me directly. So at 1:30 in the morning, I find myself telling him about promises made and then mysterious events that keep them unfulfilled until his final abrupt departure.
He is stunned and confused and sputters through his keyboard, trying to put some logic to it. Why not just tell you if he was against it? he says.
I don’t know, I tell him: Spare yourself the agony of trying to understand what people do.
He fumbles, stumped for words. It’s not fair, he says, finally.
Don’t look for logic, don’t wait for fair, I say. You won’t find either. You only have so much time on this earth, don’t let them steal any more of it.
We were married 26 years, he says. How do I get my life back?
You don’t, I say. But you get to move forward.
He thrashes at the futility: Where is the accountability?
There isn’t any, I tell him.
And then he says it: I know what I have to do, I am just afraid to do it. I’m afraid of the uncertainty of the outcome.
Once you know what the damage is, you can deal with it, I say.
It’s 3am now, but it feels like the clouds have passed along with the night.
Thank you, he says. There has been so much locked up inside, eating at me. This really helped me.
I extract a promise that he will get divorce papers filed, and since it’s so very late, we say – or rather, type – goodnight.