Dear Michael and Caroline,
My father and mother called my sister Linda and I to the kitchen table one night to announce some news to us. “We have something to tell you,” my father said, and right away I sensed something unusual going on.
My parents never really had anything to tell us. As far as I can recall, they kept everything to themselves, whatever it might be. My sister and I looked at my mother and prepared to listen. I was probably about 10 years old and she eight. We must have expected to glean the news from my mother’s face. But no such luck.
“Your mother and I are getting a divorce,” my father said.
I had a basic idea of what the word “divorce” meant. It definitely meant something bad. We looked at my mother, my sister and I, as if to seek an explanation, or maybe hoping she would reveal this all to be some kind of prank. Her face reddened and she cast her eyes down, apparently ashamed.
“We are going to live separately,” my father said, trying to define the new terms of our family arrangement. It was a bad moment, I recall, this announcement. The news hit me with a wallop. No more family, or at least no more foursome.
I’ve forgotten the rest of this gathering. Maybe my father said more, but most likely he did as he had always done and retreated into the safety and solitude of silence. Almost certainly my mother gave no elaboration, either. Maybe I asked a question, such as “What will happen now?” or “Why?” or “Was it my fault?” I must have had such questions swelling in my mind. But chances are, I was too dumbfounded to come up with anything to say.
Of this much I’m sure: Linda and I went back to our rooms believing our parents were going to be divorced. Our family would now officially break apart.
P.S. – See Part 2 tomorrow.