Day 580

My dad and I have a 30 year age difference, which is kinda cool. During this particular year of my life I turned 30 and he turned 60. His birthday is in December and he had planned (along with my mother and baby sister) to come to New York for his 60th birthday. We had already discussed and thought out all the cool, classic New York holiday adventures we were going to have as a family. One of the attributes I got from my father is his ability to truly live life to the fullest. We are both expert planners of any kind of vacation, outting, or day off. We can pack 48 hours into a 24 hour day. Some might say we overdo it, but I think it’s a gift. That being said, the fact that my marriage was falling apart at the seams wasn’t going to deter the Hill Family from taking New York by storm. Knowing my father, he probably hoped his presence alone would make my ex-husband so uncomfortable that he’d flee the country. Unfortunately, this did not happen.

Obviously my family didn’t stay with us in our tiny apartment. They wouldn’t have fit, but I also fear that it would have given my father the perfect opportunity to fling my ex-husband out of our five story walk up. Nobody needs that kind of added drama during the holiday season. They flew in during the day when I was at work. Once they got settled in their hotel room, they walked over to visit me and see my office. Looking back, I think we all knew I was leaving soon. I thought that eventually I would come back…they knew I wouldn’t. So they took this time as a chance to see and better understand my New York lifestyle. They knew this unique chapter of my life would soon be coming to a close, and they wanted to experience as much as they could with me. When you are doggie paddling through life and doing your best just to stay above water and suddenly your family arrives…let me tell you, it’s like someone has just thrown you a tank of oxygen. They walked in and I could breathe again. I could smile again. I could laugh and joke and skip and sing and most importantly, I could feel a tiny bit of joy and start to dance through life again.

That evening we went to one of my favorite restaurants near Lincoln Center. I love Lincoln Center. It epitomizes the essence of what I always dreamed New York would be like. I loved living near Lincoln Center. Some days I would get off the subway a stop early just to walk by it. Just to gaze at the fountain, to stand amoung the tourists, to feel the art happening all around me. The energy fueled my soul. Gave me strength. It’s funny how a place can do that for you. How standing still can give you life. After dinner we took pictures by Lincoln Center. We marveled at the glamorous decorations already set out for Christmas. And then we started walking uptown. We were walking uptown towards my apartment, because once again, in my naïveté I had planned (forced) a gathering. In all honesty, I wanted my family to see my little apartment all decorated for Christmas. I took great pride in how I had expertly managed to throw cheer into such a small space. Maybe I knew deep down this would be my last holiday in my home. Maybe I knew this would be their last chance to see this piece of me. Maybe they knew it too.

I had bought a cake and ice cream. My plan was that we would all have dessert together to celebrate my father’s birthday, they would see the apartment, we’d have a couple of laughs, and years from now when this whole messy ordeal was behind us everyone would be thankful that I was able to make family memories during such a sad occasion in our lives. Yes, my ex-husband was there. This might be the moment in the story when you stop and ask yourselves, “Why in the hell did my ex-husband stick around to hang out with my family?” I don’t have an answer for you. But I will tell you this, the man felt no shame. None. He sat there and ate cake and acted as if nothing was wrong. If you hadn’t known we was an adulterer who didn’t love or respect his wife, then you would have thought we were the most normal married couple in all of Manhattan. God bless my family. They oooed and aaahed over my tree, my nativity scene, the stockings, etc. They were polite. They made conversation. They were respectful. And then they left. I walked them down to the subway to make sure they were headed in the right direction. We made plans for the next day. We hugged. And that was the last time they saw my ex-husband.

I’ve had many conversations with my father since that day…and he knew. I didn’t know. I didn’t know it would be my last Christmas in my tiny home. I didn’t know I was going to leave this city I had grown to love. I didn’t know that there would never truly be a proper goodbye. I didn’t know that I would have to re-create a life for myself because the original life I had chosen was stolen from me. But maybe it’s a good thing that I didn’t know. Maybe it would have been harder. Maybe I would have resisted. Maybe I would have given into fear. And then I’d never have gotten to meet the new me. The real me. The strong me.  The me who still plans every occasion to the fullest, the me who still constantly likes to be prepared, the me who is still always at the ready with a birthday cake if needed, but also the me who has the knowledge that no storm can knock her down. The me who fully understands what it means to rely on God in all situations. The me that will always grasp the importance of being able to brush off the dust and dance on. 

Psalm 30:11 “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.”

4 thoughts on “Day 580

  1. Kat, you are a winner in no way a loser. I believe God set this path for you to make you what you are today. The city will always be there for you should you ever want to return. With your talent and drive it is not out of possibility that you end up in an off-Broadway show. They just haven’t discovered you yet. Keep the faith.

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  2. Katherine, I don’t know you well enough to call you Kat, but I love your nickname. It fits you perfectly. I’m replying to let you know that your blog has inspired me in more ways than you’ll ever realize. I’ll try not to ramble on, (highly unlikely) I’ve been told many times that I do that. I look forward to your posts like a child waiting for Christmas to arrive. I too, have a big heart, just like you. No one explains to you in life how to meet “that” person you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life with. That course changes rapidly and can be unpredictable. You, though, have true laser vision of what you want and need in life. You are complete with God and your family is the most amazing support system, as well as your friends – especially your male role models. I’ll provide you with a little background on me. I also thought that I had found the perfect woman. I’m not going to throw stones, that’s not my style. For 29 years, we have known each other! You would think being together that long would be a testament to our relationship. But that would be totally wrong. The reason I have kept my heart and happiness, in life ,a prisoner from someone who can truly be one with me is my 16 year old daughter. She means the world to me, but I’m not allowed to openly show her that. My dad passed away, only being allowed to hold her once, when she was 9 months old. I’ll never forgive myself for allowing that to happen. What led me to you and your blog was your performance in the murder mystery “Clue” at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater in Lancaster Pa. My daughter and I loved the show, my wife did not. That was my first time there. We had a table up front near the stage, next to the dessert tables (What a bonus – I love sweets!). Anyway, I confess, when I got to work that Monday, I had to find out more about you (I’m really not a stalker). When I read the website that included your bio, I googled your name (we’re a shallow society – aren’t we). Of course you know that it led to your absolutely stunning wedding photo. I was saddened, to follow your blog, but then realized that this low point in your life was just one door closing and countless others opening up. You have such inner strength, I can’t believe it. It took several months of reading your posts and some deep, soul-searching on my life, to realize I can’t keep doing this. Being in a one-sided marriage, not being able to breathe or share life’s experiences is beyond sad. After reading your last post, I finally did what I should have done years ago. I packed up my stuff (not much after all these years) and left. I’m sitting here at work, crying as I’m typing this. My emotions are overflowing like when you were inspired to start your blog. I apologize for rambling (I told you it was highly unlikely). You’ve been an inspiration to an old guy like me (52 if your wondering). I realize they’re not shoveling dirt on me yet, so I’m going to try and make sure that I capture every minute of what time I have left, focusing on caring for others and making people laugh. Just like you do. Your talents are born into you. That day, at Dutch Apple, how you were completely into your work. It’s not work then, it’s your passion showing through. I know this because I used to be in a Polka Band (don’t laugh). There was not a bigger high than playing on stage and seeing people dancing and enjoying themselves, while listening to our band. I miss that so much. My trumpets are actually out in my truck now. I miss playing Christmas songs in front of my church. I was no longer “allowed” to enjoy God’s gift of music to me. I was supposed to “grow up” and be a better husband. I guess I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. I think that’s what life is all about. Doing what you deeply feel in your heart and being able to share that with someone special. I guess my journey begins now. Like you, I will lean on my family and friends, and “Brush off the dust and dance on”. Finally, I’m finished.(As you can see – I had a lot to get off my chest). Thanks again for your blog, that personally opens up your life to those who read it. I feel, that this is what you meant it to be. A way to release your deepest feelings as well as let others know that life goes on. Enjoy it! You are an amazing woman.

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