Two equal sides were measured up and daily bouts of guilt, anger and shame all boiled down to sorrow. A march down the hill and up again was meant for exercise but became a ritual to quell frustration that built up after days of denial and appeasement. I told myself it was better this way and was not a reflection of the person that I was or had been in the past and after all, I had been the one who left, not him. I purchased creams to prevent the signs of aging, went on diets and did internet searches to help in coping with this new life style that had been thrust upon me. A time period of relative acceptance was always followed by a barrage of confusion and dismay, a battle with the reality that now it was not only another woman 18 years his junior but an infant as well.
For years he handed out the rules that kept our life in an orderly but chaotic realm; the couch could not touch the wall, a small pot was not to be placed on a large burner and two identical containers of ketchup, mustard or anything else were not to be opened at the same time. There were exceptions and alterations to a long list and keeping up with sometimes hourly changes, became unnerving. But now this was my home and I decided what rules would be relevant if he was to insist on entering our lives. I made an orderly mental account; he would stay in the room downstairs, no contact with his new family while staying in my home and no purchasing gifts for them.
Vacations to China and trips with the sheik to other Middle Eastern locations meant I was alone with my 9 children in Riyadh, no contact or inquiries about our well-being were ever made. On visits to Syria his mother questioned him, insisting that he pick up the phone and check on his family but he would not be moved and the same answer was always given, Um Osama ( Lynn) is fine and there is no need. Upon his return the same bag was positioned by the front door containing his pressed and folded clothing and a sack of dirty laundry. On occasion his family insisted on sending little presents as reminders of their affection and the bond we had created while spending time in Damascus. He reluctantly handed out baby dolls, purses and jewelry making sure that no one thought they were from him. Now he would be visiting our home in Idaho and so it seemed only right that he would not call her, purchase frivolous gifts or even think of her and so my rules went into effect.
I wrapped the warmer complete with a scent that seemed just right and tucked it into his suitcase one last time. It had become a game of sorts that brought happiness, joy and resolution on one day and on the next an unrelenting feeling of sickness. I reminded myself that she had probably been tricked and must have been told we were divorced. The baby book had been more difficult and hours were spent positioning it just right and then removing it. One day it was a lovely token and a badge that showed I was indeed a forgiving person who was unaltered by these struggles and the next it was a tormenting reminder of the invisible person I had become. Pink ruffled onesies and tiny socks, dresses and headbands were taken in and out and finally folded one last time. I had contemplated throwing them out or giving them away and then just as easily they were dear to me and held a meaning much greater than I knew. The baby book, warmer and clothing finally found their place in his luggage and would provide a tiny modicum of healing.