On Chocolate Mousse and Chapter Two

Did you know that Monday was National Chocolate Mousse Day?

Neither did I, until the woman ahead of me in the grocery checkout line explained that’s why she was buying her kids the towering brown mass of mousse with smaller swirly dollops blooming from the top.

“I promised my kids I’d bring home chocolate mousse for dessert,” she told the cashier.

“I did the same thing in December for National Cookie Day,” she continued, “and the month before that for National Vanilla Cake Day.”

I was in a hurry. She was not.

At home I Google-verified that yes indeed, those months are things.

Meanwhile, back at the store, those mousse dollops with their little white centers stared at me from inside the clear plastic box, judging me for not being the kind of mother who themes my purchases according to the National Such-and-Such Day calendar.

Maybe some country has a National Cut-the-Bruises-Off-The-Strawberries-One-Day-Before-They-Need-To-Be-Tossed Day, ‘cause that’s tonight’s dessert.

I just wanted to beat the school bus home. She kept talking.

“They even have a National Ex-Spouse Day.”

I had to smile at that one. “Been there,” I said.

“I mean, I don’t even know how I’d know that,” her tone turned almost apologetic, “except that my divorce is dragging on and on.”

She had a loud voice, but turned down the volume on the word “divorce.” It came out like a whisper.

And then she stopped talking. She looked straight at me. Her eyes were sad. And she exhaled.

And I remembered.

I remembered how errands like going to the grocery store felt like they were happening with a two-ton sandbag strapped to my spirit.

I remembered the weight of everyday life that felt at once heavy and empty.

I remembered having the hardest time getting the D-word out. Giving voice to it felt like giving up.

Heck, I wish I’d thought to look up National Days of Whatever so I could have given my son something to look forward to at our dinner table.

I remembered the empty chair at our dinner table.

And here I was now, smiling at the mention of Ex-Spouse Day. Not because divorce is by any means smile-worthy, but because when you come out the other side, you realize the two-ton sandbag on your spirit was so heavy because it was actually gathering up all the parts of you that weren’t truly you, but you had to carry them around and feel their weight so you could finally let them go.

On the other side, the emptiness is actually the space you were clearing for Chapter Two.

And Chapter Two is where you meet yourself.

On the other side, you speak the word “divorce” loud and clear and you hear your courage and you know you have found your voice.

On the other side, you realize the power of that saying that some things fall apart so better things can fall together. And when they do, that chair at the dinner table is no longer empty.

“It gets easier,” I told her, which felt like an incredibly lame thing to say.

But the lameness was tempered by knowing that someday, probably sooner than she thinks, she’ll be on the other side.

And she will remember.

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