As I pulled into the court house parking lot, my wife’s car was just ahead of mine. We exited our vehicles and approached the front door. Awkwardly, I said hello. My wife remained silent, only displaying a quick smile through her sullen face.
I asked my wife if she knew where to go. She reached into her purse and showed me the notice of hearing for our divorce. Tears began to well in her eyes. Reaching for tissues, she turned around and headed back to her car.
Part of me wanted to comfort her. I stopped myself. After all, this is what she wanted. This was her doing. And the way she went about doing it lacked any consideration for my feelings. Still, it was difficult not to feel compassion. I then noticed an FOP badge on her license plate (her boyfriend is a police officer). I turned away and walked into the court house.
My wife joined me in the waiting room about five minutes later. She sat down on the bench next to me. I flashed back to the first time we both went through this…September 3, 1999. The way it played out the first time had always sickened me. We had sat down on the same bench. We exchanged a light banter, as if nothing was wrong. My insides churned, knowing what was coming next. I imagined similar awkward pleasantries being displayed towards death row inmates just before their execution.
This time, I decided not to talk with her. I was not going to let August 3, 2012 be filled with the same type of nice/phony conversation. Such words would only serve as an opaque mask over the true gravity of what we were about to do. I got-up from the bench and leaned against the wall next to it. Instead of engaging in small talk with my wife, I texted a friend. My wife was silently crying. Time passed slowly. As luck would have it, the proceedings were delayed by about a half hour. Felt like four.
When we were finally called into the court room, my wife continued to cry. A bailiff gave her a box of tissues. Each of us answered the judge’s questions – our last words as a married couple. The judge thanked us for our cooperation. The gavel sounded. It was as if it came from an executioner’s firing squad.
Our marriage was officially over. Outside of the court room, my ex-wife asked me if there was anything more she had to do.
“No. We’re done.”
Nothing more was said.