REFLECTIONS: JURY AND LAUNDRY DUTY
When I was unexpectedly thrust into a divorce and custody battle, I had an almost 3-year-old daughter and an 18-month old son to care for along with a never-ending list of critical tasks and decisions that felt like they had to be made at breakneck speed yet with precision accuracy. Despite my tears, pleads, and prayers, the world did not slow down and wait for me to catch up, and I did not awaken from the nightmare. This was my new reality, this was happening, and I had to show up, perhaps bigger than I ever had even though I felt like I had far less ability to deal with the weight of things than at any other point in my life. My most immediate list of things to be done looked like this: Get out of jury duty and find an attorney. Yes, believe it or not, the day after my sudden separation, of all days, I had to report for jury duty! I spent the first two hours of my morning in the courthouse waiting anxiously for my turn to explain to the judge why I should be excused from my civil service. Upon hearing my story, the judge kindly obliged and wished me luck. As I made my way out of the courthouse, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I would soon be back in this building for a very different reason.
While waiting to meet with a potential attorney about my case, I was bombarded with calls and text messages from friends, some close, some mutually shared with my wife asking what had happened, some genuinely expressing their concern, others looking to get the scoop, and a few casting quick blame after only hearing my wife’s side of the story. I could feel the pressure rising quickly. After a two-hour consultation with an attorney, I had to get back to our house to secure our possessions and coordinate with my work to take off the next 3 days. I had to sheepishly talk to my parents about child care arrangements and the reality of having to move back home with them, and though they could not have been more supportive and gracious, I still felt defeated and ashamed. The next day I found myself alone in our apartment, trying to sort through our possessions and struggling to form some semblance of a plan. In the midst of all of the frenetic chaos and uncertainty the last few days had brought, I stood staring at two overfilled clothes baskets. The laundry needed to be done. Something so mundane we seldom give it a second thought, and yet it was something simple, mindless, and doable, or so I thought. So, that’s where I started. Simple and doable didn’t last long however as I found myself inevitably having to sort through my wife’s clothes and the reality of my situation came rushing over me. I fell to my knees on the floor and any pent-up emotions from the past 48-hours that had not already been spent quickly burst out through an ocean of tears. Through my sobs, I pounded the floor with my fists yelling at God, “I don’t want this”, but my indignation changed nothing. I sat on the floor looking around at what had only days ago been a completely different life. After a few minutes, I composed myself and went to finish the laundry. This would be the first of many days I would spend alone in our apartment sorting through our things and packing away the memories of what was now a broken family, heart, and life.