Monday, December 22, 2008

Through the Looking Glass - Part 2

Our second day on Martha’s Vineyard to move my things began with butterflies in my stomach. It wasn’t fear, it was sadness. My husband had told people he was afraid I would harm him. While in the hospital, he had filed for divorce and for a restraining order, which only added insult to injury.

Nine months of psychological therapy helped me understand the problem was not with me. I had been depressed, not homicidal. I didn’t cause my husband to be fearful. Elements from his own past, likely his deceased father’s violent, depressive episodes, contributed to his fear. I had reached a place of acceptance, understanding that my husband was unwilling to seek marriage counseling, unwilling put forth any effort to resolve whatever differences he perceived in our marriage. In fact, I now know that I deserve much better treatment from a husband, more empathy, caring and love, than my husband could provide. His actions were not just unloving, they were mean-spirited.

When I awoke, Andrea told me I’d been arguing with my husband in my sleep. I had cried out, saying my attorney would handle things. We dressed for cold weather, but as we walked outside, the air was warm and balmy. It was 60 degrees and overcast. Two days before, it had been 19 degrees. The forecast anticipated rain, but as we headed to the West Tisbury Police Department, where I met the officer who would be “protecting” my husband’s property from Scary Ol’ Me, the sky offered no direct threats. The weather was Miracle #1.

Officer Garrison Viera was dressed in plain clothes and drove his pick-up truck to the farm, following me in the moving van. As I drew closer to the Old Mayhew Farm, Andrea said, “I know you’re feeling anxious, and it’s going to be alright. It really is. All this will be over in a few days.” I needed to hear what she had to say, being so close to tears and not wanting to “lose it”.

Pulling into the long drive up to the small farmhouse around 8:30AM, I saw three men waiting – two Brazilians and one high school student. My husband had hired them to assist with the move, obviously wanting me out as soon as possible. He also knew that the men from church I had asked to assist were unable to help me during a weekday and that the police could only come out between the hours of 8AM – 5PM.

I knew one of the Brazilians, Arte Narty, and had briefly met James, the high school student. Opening the barn door, I saw all my furniture filling the space. Apparently, my husband had packed most of my belongings and had moved the boxes and furniture out of the house, into the attached barn area. My things had been there quite some time, as the furniture was dirty and in some cases, moldy, from the excessive heat and humidity during the summer.

Arte Narty kept asking me what they should move first, but I simply couldn’t deal with the aspect of managing the truck loading. That’s when Andrea took over. I climbed into barn loft to identify and hand down boxes, while Andrea directed labor efforts. Unbeknownst to me, Andrea eventually ordered Officer Viera into the truck, not knowing he was a cop.

Andrea barked, “Get up in there and arrange that furniture so it fits in the truck.” Officer Viera replied, “I don’t want to.” She retorted, “I don’t care what you want. You get up there in that truck. You are the king! King of the moving van!” So, he did. And, Officer Viera did an outstanding job of packing the truck.

A little while into the move, my friend from the island, Melanie Bilodeau, came by to help me pack. She took the half-empty boxes and consolidated them. She also helped me make decisions about items that were better left behind or thrown away.

At 10:45AM, the loading was complete. I was totally amazed and shocked. What I had thought would take a couple of days, took a little over two hours. This was Miracle #2.

Officer Viera turned his back to us to climb down from the truck, securing the truck door, and Andrea saw his handcuffs, clipped to the back of his pants. She suddenly realized he was the police officer, not a hired hand. She apologized profusely for ordering him around, thanking him for his help and praising his efforts, pleading her ignorance at his intended purpose.

I looked into the officer’s eyes and smiled, thanking him for his work and told him that the miracle of getting the truck loaded was directly due to his willingness to help us. In a most gracious manner, Officer Viera beamed a bright smile back at me and told me that he couldn’t just sit back and do nothing while there was work to be done. He enjoyed helping, but he asked me not to let anyone at the station know, to which I agreed. Officer Viera was Miracle #3.

I had been told the day before traveling to the island that my husband did not want to allow me access to the house. His reasoning was that all my belongings were in the barn. Through my attorney, I insisted that I be allowed to walk through the farmhouse to ensure all my belongings had been packed. I asked Officer Viera to accompany through the house, which he readily agreed to do. I saw jigsaw puzzles and a Scrabble game that my husband’s mother had given me for my birthday and Christmas, which had not been packed. I smiled and left them alone.

I walked over to the bookshelf, reached up on the top shelf and got down one book, The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, which had been given to me in 1995 by a dear friend. As I showed it to Officer Viera, he apologetically told me he would have to take a picture of it and would have to call the station before releasing it to me. I told him that was fine, that there was an inscription in the front to me. He agreed the book was mine and called the station. Meanwhile, I continued through the house.

Looking around, I could see why my husband did not want me there. The house looked so pitiful, dirty and dismal. The second-hand furniture he had acquired was so bleak in comparison to the warm, rich leather and fabrics of my furniture. There were no paintings or pictures on the walls. There was no order to his things. It was chaos and emptiness at the same time. It was sad. And, I imagined that this farmhouse reflected the inner feelings of my husband.

Rather than search through the CDs and DVDs, I walked away from the house after briefly perusing the surroundings. If he had kept anything else of mine, he could keep it. I realized at that moment that I had been the reason that farmhouse was a home. I was the reason there was warmth and love reflected in that house. And, with me gone, that house was no longer a home.

My 2000 Dodge Durango, which had been parked beside the barn for nine months, had a flat tire, a broken hatchback latch, broken gas cap and was filthy inside and stunk like my husband’s truck. Undoubtedly, he had used my SUV to haul feed and other things. A friend on the island had alerted me earlier in the year that my husband had been seen driving my car. At least the car started right up and had a half-tank of gas.

Andrea followed me over to Island Tire & Auto. When I asked them to fix the tire and change the oil, I was told it would be the next day before they could get to an oil change. I told them to forget the oil change and asked if we could wait to get the tires looked at. The man at the shop said, “Sure! Pull your car around to the bay and I’ll look at it right now.” This, to me, was Miracle #4.

The feeling of relief as I drove the moving van away from the farm was indescribable. Elation, weightlessness and joy don’t even accurately describe the wondrous feelings of severing the physical ties to my husband. And, then it began to rain…Miracle #5.

Caterpillar: Who... are... you?
Alice: Why, I hardly know, sir. I've changed so much since this morning, you see...
Caterpillar: No, I do not C, explain yourself.
Alice: I'm afraid I can't explain myself, you see, because I'm not myself, you know.
Caterpillar: I do not know.
Alice: I can't put it any more clearly, sir, because it isn't clear to me.

Bird in the Tree: A serpent! Help! Help! Serpent! Serpeeent!
Alice: But please! Please!
Bird in the Tree: Off with you! Shoo! Shoo! Help! Serpent!
Alice: I'm not a serpent.
Bird in the Tree: You're not? Then just what are you?
Alice: I'm just a little girl.

Don’t Give Up Before the Miracles Happen, Y’all!

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