I hate to say "I told you so," but there's a reason most people don't go out to dinner before they separate.

Chuck is leaving and has invited Lorna out to a “Farewell” dinner. How does she fare?

Since I couldn’t didn’t believe Chuck would really leave, I think I held off giving him an answer to his dinner invitation. I have permanent amnesia about that week. Each day passed and I got out of bed to pee, but I can’t be sure. I kept a “gratitude journal” to help me focus on being positive, but entries for that week aren’t helpful:

  • “I walked Scrappy very early. The stars were bright, but no moon lit our way. My senses were keener even as I felt invisible, melting into the darkness, into a shadow. I’m a shadow and I feel safe. Quiet. Thank you for this quiet moment before I face the daylight chaos.” (10/19/09)
  • “The gentle rainfall welcomed Scrappy and me on our pre-dawn walk. I’m grateful for my sense of hearing and for my awareness of the magical songs of nature.” (10/22/09)
  • “If pain and disbelief fill me, then I am grateful for these unlikely friends. They keep me awake. My wish is that everyone who feels this kind of loss will find a way to feel whole, find comfort, feel loved.” (10/24/09, the evening Chuck left)

Were we kind toward each other? Did I try to convince him to stay or ask him “why?” a million times? Was he away preparing his apartment? I don’t know.

I declined his dinner invitation. Crying non-stop has a way of ruining your appearance.  I told him “no thanks” when he got home from work on Friday (I think.  Remember, all this is fuzzy).

I tried blow-drying my hair. Nothing camouflaged the evidence of crying for a week. Plus I didn't feel like dealing with my persistent peri-menopausal facial hair.

Chuck was livid. By declining his invitation, he felt I was rejecting him. But, wait. Wasn’t he leaving me? I was living in a world where “down” was “up” and “this” was “that.” The only constant was that I was Mrs. Wrong and he felt like he was Mr. Couldn’t-Do-Anything-Right. He marched up stairs and packed his bags. I stood there hyperventilating frantically taking cleansing breaths.

I remember what happen next as clearly as a recurring nightmare.

When we were in Hawaii for our Honeymoon-That-Wasn’t, we each purchased gold bands with inlaid blue opal that reminded us of the Pacific Ocean. He lost his the prior summer; I was wearing mine. I took mine off and found a small box while he was banging around upstairs. He came into the kitchen with a face washed with anger and disappointment—double barrels aimed at my tender spots. Assume all portions of my part of the following dialog are punctuated with tears, sniffling, and general discombobulation.

Maybe Chuck didn't react well because he didn't recognize this hysterical woman. I don't either.

“So I guess that’s that,” he said.

“You’re not really walking out of that door are you?”

“Yes.”

“If you’re willing to stay here and work this out with me, I’ll do anything to save our relationship. But if you walk out on me, Chuck, it’s a game-changer. I’m going to have to do my own thinking about what I want and who I am.”

“Fine.” Chuck was succinct when he wanted to be. Me, not so much.

“If you’re dead-set on leaving me, then I want to give you something. Buddhists say that when you give something away, it should be something you deeply care about. It makes the giving more meaningful to both parties. So I’m giving you this.” I handed him the box with my Hawaiian gold band in it. He opened it and looked at me with softer eyes.

“Every time you look at this, let the gold remind you of my hair and the blue remind you of my eyes.” It was a bit more choppy when I said it through sobs. He cried too. Then he hugged me, tucked the box in his pants pocket and walked out on me. I hoped my sappy tender ring-speech would change his mind. The sound of the door closing was the emptiest sound I ever heard. I felt like the most leavable girl in the world: my dad left me, all my boyfriends left me, my beloved pets left me, Alex distanced himself from me, and now my husband walked out on me. Someone could write a top-of-the-charts Country-Western song about “Leavable Lorna.”

Introducing Miss Hammy Swinette with her new hit Single, "Leavable Lorna, She Never Met A Man She Couldn't Shoo-Shoo-A-Do Away."

I called Chuck’s parents telling them that he left and I was worried about him. They said they would call him. Then I called my sister, Tina. All she heard was heavy gasping breaths and stuttering. I’m surprised she didn’t hang up. I finally told her that Chuck left me. I never knew Tina to be a good actress, but she played the part of a consoling sister to a tee. She told me later she did a “happy dance” after she hung up the phone; she never liked Chuck.

Thus began the official phase of an unofficial separation that had gone on for I don’t know how long. At least Chuck had the courage to make it official. I wasn’t that brave.

He left me. What did that mean in the cosmic sense and the common sense? We never discussed the details of  being apart: money, mail, mortgage. How would I ask him? How long should a dumped wife wait before she calls her estranged husband? I didn’t know “separation etiquette.”

Castles built out of sand? Near water? Adults! If they're trying to prepare us for life, all they're doing is confusing us and burning our butts.

Let’s see how Lorna navigates life on her own…