It’s still sad sometimes. Usually not, especially when I’m caught up in the current of life. Rarely in a tear-producing way. Generally when I don’t expect it, although it almost always passes quickly. It’s still sad sometimes.
Yesterday, the sadness hit as I returned to my car after a delightful Friday night intergenerational church service. Most attendees were parents of children under age 8 or so, although I know I wasn’t the only single adult in the room. I sat with a friend and her son while we participated in chant, meditation, song, and storytelling. It was a captivating hour and a half that left my spirit light and my soul at peace.
And then it was time for refreshments. I considered bugging out as soon as the service ended, avoiding mingling with all these people I didn’t know well. All those families, looking intact and full. But I took a deep breath and wandered down to the refreshment area. After several minutes of relative silence except for reminders to children to wait a turn for snack, we started to converse. The five children quickly inserted their laughter, which seemed to loosen the tongues of the adults. We talked of what parents do when first meeting. We talked about our kids.
Except that I didn’t have mine. They’re generally with their dad on Friday nights. Not always. We’re flexible with the schedule, but since he works weekdays, I often work Saturday, and Sunday is church for the boys and I, Friday night is almost always a dad night. I really hate explaining all that, so when the question of my children’s whereabouts arose, I simply said they were with their father. When asked later if I’d bring them next time, I let the rest out. I’m divorced. I don’t have my kids on most Friday nights. My eyes fill just typing that.
To be fair, no one ran screaming. Admission of recent divorce is quite the kill-joy, as people mutter apologies while hoping the divorce cooties don’t rub off. Instead, the conversation turned to jobs, kids, and then the late hour. We went our separate ways, and I quietly headed to my car. Alone. And then the sadness came.
Sadness at being alone at a service filled with parents and children. Sadness at the loss of being one of two parents with kids at any event. Sadness at the shuffling back and forth my boys do, twice each week, and will continue to do until they leave both nests. Sadness that the promises of marriage and family don’t always get kept. No anger. No wishes to turn back the clock. No remorse, blame, self-recrimination, or frustration. Just sadness.
So I sat with it. I wept a bit. Not much, just what came naturally with the late hour, fatigue, and the sorrow that washed over me. Not the racking sobs I’d wept before and during my separation and divorce, wept alone and with friends, tears full of fear, anger, and confusion. No. These were simply tear of sadness that welled up, flowed down a bit, and passed.
And they always pass, as does the sadness. And they’ll return, most likely, at least on occasion. Because loss hurts. Even when it was the only path left. Even when it brings better times and greater peace. Even when love, life, and joy fill life so fully it seems impossible for that sadness to find a way in. It’s just that it’s still sad sometimes. And that’s okay.