Declaration

“This,” said Reepicheep “is where I go on alone.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The envelope arrived thirty-six months after the civil courts had declared our marriage over.

The contents when read told me of another type of ending.

Fingers hover over the keypad now as I hesitate to type the words.

So much of this life I share, yet certain pieces find comfort, alone, in the quiet confines of the heart.

The journey that brought me the letter from the Catholic Diocese, didn’t go unsupported.

A small team of prayer warriors leant their words to the examination of how my love story began. They relived times long since forgotten.

I am forever grateful for their contributions. Their adjectives painted a picture of a young women I needed to recall.

Gratitude extends as well to the man whose life I shared, as he willingly participated, one more time, in our ending.

Declaration of Nullity.

It doesn’t mean the union never existed.

It doesn’t mean those girls weren’t born of love.

What was missing there can now be found in his time, not mine.

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Twenty years removed from the start of the story, a final gift,  forgiveness.

And in this we find our joy.

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/annulment/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broken

Momma why is it this way?” she asks me.

The eyes imploring, wanting more.

“We couldn’t make it work, your Dad and I”.

“We had big dreams that we couldn’t share. Now your Daddy has someone who shares those dreams and it will be good”.

“So you broke apart then Momma” she whispers as she unlaces her fingers from mine.

“Oh my Ellie girl nothing is broken. It can’t be broken. You exist.”

“I don’t understand Momma”.

“Daddy and I made you. You are made from the best parts of each of us woven together. You aren’t broken are you?”

“No Momma I am whole”

“So you see then even though Daddy and I aren’t married nothing is broken. You and Audrey and Sidney make us whole”.

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The Clothes

I step in and I am transported back.

Flooded with memories of my making.

The clothing I now view as my collection.

They bring me sweet smiles each day while I debate what will be worn.

The sleeve of that dress I had on the first time the man I liked grabbed my hand. When I look at it, I can feel the texture and warmth of his touch in my palm.

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The sweatshirt I stole from my brother’s closet freshman year in college. The edges worn, the letters faded. It’s now Sidney’s favorite. When I ask her why she takes it she tells me “it smells like you Momma.

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There’s the scarf my best friend gave me for Christmas one year that I wore on a colder then usual December vacation to Disney.

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The cream blazer I splurged on was the first big purchase I hadn’t needed to “clear” with anyone, a reminder of the independence I now have.

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And those running shoes. Always off to the side, ready to slide on each morning. A new pair every 6 months or so. Medals of all the miles logged.

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For years I would walk into spaces like this in homes I made and question my worth. The skirt that felt too tight. The shirt that couldn’t hide what I thought needed hiding.

Gradually those feelings faded and all that is left is the goodness in those pieces.

And now when I find my niece standing in the center of that closet wearing my heels or Sidney in the Wittenberg sweatshirt, I feel such joy.

The clothes are comfort.

The fabric, memories of a life well lived.

 

 

 

 

 

Dating

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I’ve navigated the channel of divorce in a forthcoming manner.

I share the experience and what I have learned in hopes that in the offering others will gain.

I acknowledge the wrongs I have made, maybe in an attempt to set things right.

But one area I’ve never felt comfortable sharing publicly is how I manage, at 38, to navigate a world vastly different from the one I left in 1999 when I took another’s hand in marriage.

There are cellphones.

There is texting.

People email and very rarely write letters.

Courting is a foreign thing and love is often decided in minutes rather than months.

Many times over the last two years, I have pondered walking away.

My life is full.

I have everything I could have ever asked for and more.

So why then would I travel this difficult path that may or may not place me in front of a person to share my world?

Am I hoping for that fairy tale ending? The knight to ride in, sweep me off my feet and bring me the stability I often crave?

No.

I’ve learned to love my state of independence too much.

My decisions are my own. My life made up of my choices.

I date because it makes me uncomfortable.

I date because I can learn more about who I am when I examine myself through the lens of another.

I date because God called me to live in community with others and the most intimate form of community is partnership and marriage.

I don’t know what the plan is for my next years on this earth.

I imagine there will be some heartache. I guarantee I will face down fears.

Ultimately it is not in my hands who does or does not walk this road with me.

I may not know what lies ahead, but I believe I am up to the challenge.

Two

Two years gone.

A lifetime lived.

Decades since that conversation which pulled the thread on a marriage.

In the months following book after book told me it would take two years to “return to normal”.

Two years and now I feel new not normal.

A new life built over these last 730 days.

It wasn’t always easy.

Nights and days spent questioning my purpose.

Wondering how I could move forward and learning to forgive myself.

But last night as I stood in a bookstore, girls reading quietly beside me, I paused in my reflection and spoke congratulatory words to the women I am now.

To come so far.

To live a life I can be proud of.

To acknowledge my faults but live in the glory of God’s grace.

The courage to reach for the next trapeze swing. No longer just hanging.

You’ve done good Heather.

Be proud of these two years and grateful for the journey.

Tyler Knott Gregson:

Family

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This is family.

It is messy.

It is complicated.

It is authentic.

There are trying days.

There are moments of anger.

Mom and Dad no longer have the benefit of rolling over in bed, calling it a night and sorting it out when cooler heads prevail the next morning. The grace they give to one another now is not dictated by martial bonds but rather by the parental strings that tie them together for eternity.

It isn’t always easy.

It will never be perfect.

But it is family regardless.

 

 

 

 

Dear Future Husband

Dear Potential Suitor,

I live a big life.

A life that is full of hope, joy, laughter.

A life that most days finds me kneeling in prayer, dancing in the kitchen and crying over my cup of yogi tea.

If you enter my life you too will get to be a part of this mess of glorious chaos.

You will have the chance to encounter three of the most precious souls ever created. They won’t need you as their father (they have one they love and cherish dearly). What you will get is a chance to be their friend, their mentor, their partner in crime.

They will love you wholly and unconditionally as they do all of their Momma’s friends. And your heart will grow and stretch in ways you didn’t know it could from something not born out of your genetics. I promise you this, your life will be better lived having known them.

And from me, what can I offer you?

You will get a woman who owns the bruises and the battle scars of a life well lived.

A less judgmental and more forgiving woman then her younger self.

You will get a woman who knows her strengths, acknowledges her weakness’ and lives in the glory of God’s grace on a daily basis.

You will not get perfection.

In fact you will get a women who can be sullen and quiet.

A woman who craves moments alone and obsesses about when she can escape the noise and clutter, find an open road and just run.

I don’t say all of that to scare you away but rather to be completely open about the “good” and the “bad” you will encounter.

I can’t promise you a life of sunshine and rainbows.

I won’t even attempt to.

What I will promise is that together we will grow and stretch in ways that only those engaged in a thoughtful, intimate partnership can.

I don’t know the where and the why’s of how we will come together.

I don’t get a glimpse down the rabbit hole that names the time and the place where you will carve your name on my heart.

Just know that I am here, waiting and open to the possibility of a second chance.

With fondness and respect,

H

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Memory of a wedding

An afternoon spent playing with cousins burning off energy.

A request for a detour before the hour and fifteen minute ride home.

“Can we see where you and daddy got married?”

With a blanket of snow covering the ground I am in no rush to head back to Columbus, so we park the car and head into Weaver Chapel.

The name does not do the chapel justice as the massive cathedral looms large over the University where their dad and I met, fell in love and started our lives on a November day in 1999.

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“You walked this whole thing Momma and Daddy stood at the end?”.

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I told them of the day and memories now 15 years old.

We giggled thinking about Daddy with a full head of hair and Momma in a big poofy dress.

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We held hands and talked about what it was like to walk down that long, long aisle with all of those eyes upon you.

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And as we left Audrey paused, “Momma thank you for taking us here. It was so cool to see where you and daddy got married.”

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It hits me like a crushing wave the importance of this moment.

The marriage did not endure, but it does not mean the precious moments of that union should not be celebrated and recounted for these girls.

It would be all too easy for he and I to brush those pieces of our lives aside and march forward with quiet determination to do things better the next time.

But these girls were born out of love.

And to walk away from these memories is to deny them the foundation of their lives.

So together we will relive these moments.

We will smile.

We will laugh.

We will celebrate a union that resulted in the three most precious gifts one could ever hope for.

Regrets from a Divorce

 

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1. I wish I had more videos of our family of five.

Christmas mornings, vacations at the shore, singing silly songs and dance parties before bed.

A year has come and gone and the youngest no longer remembers what it was to have a father in the house. The older two serve as her memory keepers.

If we had those videos I would play them back and remind her of the joy we shared under this roof and the one before it.

2. I wish in those early fall days of 2013 that I would have dropped everything, scooped those girls into my arms and whisked them away.

Our world had fallen apart but I felt the need to continue making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches;

to watch toddlers tumble at gymnastics and keep big girls on task with homework.

I was focused on keeping things as “normal” as possible when really all my babies needed was the acknowledgement that everything wasn’t normal, that life would not be the same.

They needed to move into this next phase in the loving embrace of my arms far removed from the rest of what life was throwing at them.

3. I wish I would have believed the woman and men who walked before me and told me it would be ok.

How many times did I brush them off with angry disregard? How dare they tell me that life would get better when the pain was so deep and the void between here and there so wide, so vast.

But experience is the ultimate teacher.

They were right.

We are here now and life is full.

4. I wish I had apologized less in my marriage and in my divorce.

Years spent saying I was sorry when I wasn’t.

Pushing out the words so no feathers were ruffled.

The middle child, always the pleaser, and even in the pain of separation and divorce still apologizing for wrongs she did not commit.

Apologizing for things said and not said;

for stains on shirts;

for bags under eyes;

for little girls emotional outbursts.

No apologies were needed.

We were just living.

5. I wish I had forgiven myself sooner.

I look back now and realize the pain I brought upon myself.

How angry I was at my own imperfection.

How could I let this fail?

I wish I had looked myself in the mirror and acknowledged the reflection of this beautiful child of God.

I wish I would have forgiven her with the same immediate love and forcefulness I do my own children.

And so here we are now.

A year from there.

As hard as the words are to type,

I am grateful for the darkness,

for the regrets,

for the learning’s of it all.

I can now see the stars.

 

 

 

An open letter to friends and family

Dear Friends and Family,
We apologize for this mass e-mail instead of personal correspondence with each of you, but as you know we both value the written word and felt it the best way to convey this news.

We have decided to divorce.

We know this will come as a shock to many of you and it is already rocking our worlds, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that our priority is the children.

We have created an amazing life for these happy, contented, well-adjusted young ladies and we still view the five of us as a family regardless of whether or not their parents live in the same house. Those of you who know us well (which means everyone on this email) know that we have always charted our own course and don’t always do things by society’s perception of the “rule book”.

So keeping that in mind some thoughts for you to consider:

1. There are no sides. We have arrived at this decision with a great deal of thought and consideration. We are not angry with each other. In fact we love and appreciate each other so deeply that we have chosen this course for the betterment of our individual well-beings.

2. In light of the above – please don’t feel the need to eliminate either one of us from your lives. We love and respect each one of you and the role you play in the lives of our significant other.

3. We plan to continue to be a family so that means you will see us together a lot- at school, gymnastics, basketball and even at holiday gatherings. We want this period to be as stable for the kids as possible.

4. We will need your support and love- a listening ear, a hug, a kind gesture will help sustain us through this time. But please don’t use this time as an opportunity to speak ill of our significant other to us. We may need to bitch, moan and complain but what we need most from you is the space to do that and the knowledge that you will not use it against us or our partner in the future.

5. Finally for the kids, give them hugs, kisses and love. Give them the grace to approach you on the topic if they so desire. We ask this of you because our children don’t think of themselves as different. They are well aware of what is occurring between their parents and they feel very much loved and supported by both of us. Too many staring gazes or pitiful expressions from well-intended friends and family will only serve to make them question what they believe to be true.

Thank you for your love and support of our marriage over the last 14 years. Regardless of what happens legally in the weeks and months ahead we will always be proud of what we have accomplished together.

Much love,
Brock and H