My Dave:

The ancient Greeks believed that the Mute Swan, the Cynus olar, who remained silent throughout her lifetime, in the moments before her death, sang at last, a hauntingly beautiful song.

My darling, the father of my children, and my biggest supporter: this is my swan song for you.

swan song divorce

I’d never planned to be married. The very notion of marriage made me heave and hide in the nearest closet – I’d seen Heartburn (one of my mother’s favorite movies) too many times to ever believe that marriage could actually work. I equated marriage with loss of self, and I, all 120 pounds of me – soaking wet with a backpack on, well, I had big plans for my life, and really, I’d had always figured I was destined to roam the world on my own, my young son by my side, making mischief and learning as we went. It’s something I both expected and wanted.

Inexplicably, I met you. While I told you blithely on the train, the first time we hung out that, “being set up never works,” I should’ve known better. By the end of our first non-date, I scampered out of the car, before we could do the awkward “are we going to kiss?” moment. I knew then that I liked you. I simply didn’t know how much – but it didn’t take long to find out.

You were the first person that didn’t look at me as a 22-year old unwed mother still in school, trying her hardest to make her son proud: you saw me as I was – someone almost entirely unlike you, but someone who cared deeply for you; about you. In turn, you refused to let what others would call “baggage” as anything less than wonderful.

As I woke up in your bed, the morning after our second date, I looked into the living room, while you snored softly behind me, and it hit me like a punch to the gut. My Eye said, without question or hesitation:

I was going to marry this man.

A year and a half later, I did.

I won’t say that it was the “happiest day of my life,” primarily because it was 190 degrees out and I had pneumonia, but I do remember that the entire church wept as you said your vows first to our son, then to me. While I may not have been a happy bride, I was a tremendously proud wife.

In those early days, back before the chasm, I tried to cook – to much shock, dismay and horror to the rest of our condo building, until your schedule became unpredictable enough that I could never expect you home at a certain hour. Our first Christmas in our new home, lovingly, I put together ornaments with our then-four year old son, Benjamin. Carefully, I wrapped each package, in the way only someone who deeply cares can. And I did care – so very deeply.

I didn’t know that someone like me could be; deserved to be so lucky.

Soon, we were expecting our first son, a boy, who we named Alexander Joseph, after my father. My pregnancy was fraught with prenatal depression – something I didn’t recognize until I found myself, one day, weeping over our broken ice-maker. When it came time to birth our second son, you were so nervous in the delivery room that you vomited while I lay in labor, trying to watch the tiny wall-mounted television that appeared to get reception only if the moon was half a degree to the right on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of January (it was March).

But once your second son was born, you grabbed that baby on up and twirled him around. I’ve never seen a prouder father. For all of the discomfort and sadness I dealt with during my pregnancy, I was, at long last, happy. I’d spent the years before hoping, planning, wanting another child; a sibling for our firstborn. This was my dream come true – I don’t recall a moment happier than that day, March 30, 2007.

What came next was a series of unfortunate and ill-timed events.

Unprepared for a life that didn’t resemble as a Norman Rockwell painting, you began to turn yourself off emotionally –  you worked more, harder, and better to try and “fix” the “unfixible.” Alex, being the colicky sort, while he has grown into a wonderful child, he was no easy child. While our firstborn would rather fix his gaze upon his mobile than be touched, our second son wanted nothing… but me. For a whole year, I fed that baby, twirled him, loved him, and got up every 1-3 hours with him, before he began to allow you to care for him.

This became the beginning of the chasm.

We lost our ability to be a couple, between our autistic firstborn and our difficult newborn, the chasm, which began as a few cracks in the foundation, began to show. I was exhausted, depressed and trapped with a baby to my breast while you were exhausted, depressed, and trapped with a job that hung as an albatross around your neck.

Still, we soldiered on. It was the thing to do, and still, we loved.

Shortly after Alexander turned one, I found out that I was unexpectedly expecting. It took a couple of hours for us to get over the shock of a positive pregnancy test, but by nightfall, we were elated. I knew that if I didn’t have another baby – and soon – I’d remember the nightmare of a baby Alex was and decide to remove my uterus with a butter knife before reproducing again.

The following morning, I awoke to blood. Lots of blood. Immediately, I called my OB and hurried to his office to get a shot of Rho-GAM and to see what was up with my uterus. Labs showed that I was experiencing a chemical pregnancy. While the doctor apologized profusely for the loss, I was, for the most part, okay. Until the hormones dropped precipitously and I began weeping. I don’t think I stopped for a breath for weeks.

Inexplicably, though, we managed to fight through the tears and the following month, I was, again, pregnant. For a couple of days. I didn’t even get to tell my Pranksters that I was expecting before, once again, I had another chemical pregnancy. This one hit me harder than the first, so it was a huge shock to learn that, for the third month in a row, I was expecting.

Rather than FedEx you a silver baby rattle from Tiffany & Co or hire a singing telegram (as if they’d be able to get through the security in your former place of employment), I simply called you and said flatly – “I’m pregnant. Again.” Rather than jump around with joy, you replied, “I’m training someone right now. I’ll call you back!” Since I hadn’t expected the pregnancy to last, I made a quick announcement on my blog – I wanted to hear “congrats!” before I heard, “I’m so sorry,” again.

I began waiting to bleed. After two consecutive miscarriages, who wouldn’t?

It didn’t begin until approximately six weeks into the pregnancy, when we learned that, a) I was, indeed, pregnant with something that appeared to look like a gummy bear and 2) my progesterone level was at a six, which, according to the doctor, was very, very bad. It was then that I began to use progesterone suppositories, which made the pregnancy hormones even worse.

My prenatal depression was intolerable, I know, and I’m sorry for the mood swings. You, darling, are one of those people who remains fairly stable day after day. Before the pregnancies, I had been too, and I know I bewildered you. I bewildered myself. The cracks widened – your once-stable wife had turned into someone who spent her days consumed by fear. For nine months.

Concurrently, after much discussion, you’d accepted a management role at your workplace, which we’d assumed meant a boost in pay. Instead, it meant longer hours, the same pay, and greater responsibilities. You were home less, and when you were home, you were on call 24/7. And because you’re a “fixer,” you dove headfirst into work, knowing that while working, you could solve the problem. I, on the other hand, was a whole different breed of wife; the sort you had no idea how to handle. Hell, I could barely handle her.

Finally, on January 30, 2009, we drove to the hospital nervously, ready to meet our last-born, a daughter, whom we’d chosen to name Amelia. I’d spent most of the pregnancy terrified that there was something wrong with the baby, but ultrasound after ultrasound showed nothing beyond a daughter who liked to grab her junk in utero. I don’t know how many times you reassured me that she was fine; perfect, but it had to have been somewhere in the thousands.

We drove to that hospital at the ass-crack of dawn, the big fat snowflakes peppering the window of our SUV as we drove grimly through the night. There wasn’t much to say – we were both terrified, bewildered and exhausted. The tears that fell from my eyes plopped down onto my jacket, as I stared out the window, marveling at the beauty of the morning, trying to keep my anxiety at a normal level.

It was daybreak when we reached the hospital; the sunrise on the horizon, dripping as soft as honey, coating the freshly-fallen snow with a thick layer of honey-colored sun. I waited for you in that tiny vestibule while you parked the car, knowing, in my heart of hearts – just as I’d known I was to marry you, no question – that things would never again be the same, the next time my footfalls, once-again, echoed these hallowed halls. I simply did not know why.

Silently, I grabbed your hand like a drowning person as we made our way to the maternity unit, as we had when Alex was born. Same drill: up the elevator and into the bustling maternity ward, where I was checked in, given some Pitocin, and told to stay in bed – the baby was still “too high” in my womb, and (the unspoken truth) they didn’t want a prolapsed cord. Unhappily, I obliged. When the nurse left the room, I began to weep softly, as I bore through the contractions, wiping my face occasionally on my gown, occasionally rubbing my eyes with the hospital-grade sandpaper tissues. Gently, sweetly you stood at the head of the bed, wiping away my tears and reassuring me that “everything was going to be okay.”

It wasn’t. No matter how I wished it had been, it wasn’t.

Several hours later, our daughter was born with a previously undiagnosed neural tube defect; an encephalocele, which protruded mightily out the back of her head. While the NICU whirled and twirled about our daughter, I laid in the bed, delivering the placenta and weeping, the precipitous drop in hormones not helping an already-terrifying situation. You remained with our daughter, as I’d begged you to, as I was still mired in the bed.

The chasm, something that could’ve been mended during this crisis, only widened further, as you approached our daughter’s (soon-to-be-diagnosed) encephalocele with an analytical mind while I was an emotional wreck.

The following weeks are a blur.

Weeping, I sat on the couch, holding my poor daughter; the girl smaller than the Turkey we’d roasted the previous Thanksgiving, who’d have to undergo neurosurgery at a whopping 27 days old. While I come from a medical family, you, darling, do not. Which means that I knew the risks we were taking; I understood that this wasn’t a “blip on the radar” but something far more sinister.

The one and only thing I can recall during those days, is the memory of you, love, holding our new daughter, singing and twirling her around. When I asked what you were doing, you simply said: “she can’t dance – so I’m her legs.”

I cried. This time because it was beautiful.

While our daughter, our warrior girl, the one with curls like a halo, went on to kick neurosurgery in the balls, I sunk. I developed post-traumatic stress disorder and was unable to leave the home without panicking. I relied too heavily upon you to be my support, even as you yourself floundered. I didn’t seek the care I so desperately needed – determined that I, myself, would be able to “fix it” on my own. I deeply regret not seeking help sooner, maybe then our marriage could’ve been saved.

The cracks turned into chasms we could barely walk over without the fear that we’d be sucked into the nothingness below.

The daily migraines made it all the more dire – I could no longer drive if I had a migraine – it wasn’t safe. I spent day after day alone in the home, terrified to go outside my own doors and live my life. I was stuck. We were stuck. You turned to work. I turned to writing.

Here we sit today, the chasm between us so wide neither can yell across to the other. While I’d once hoped that “where the sidewalk ends” a “road would begin,” it became evident that “where the sidewalk ends,” became “where two separate roads began.”

While I know that this is the very best thing for us – for our family – it doesn’t make the hurt go away. I’m so very lucky to have known you for ten wonderful years. I’m fortunate that I was once able to call myself, “your wife.” You’ve taught me so much over the years; about myself, about the world, and about myself.

If I’d never known you, I’d never have the two bundles of joy currently wrestling about in the other room, like two adorable puppies. Our eldest would never have had the structure he so desperately needed to thrive. Without you, we’d never have had a home.

Without you, I’d never have thought of myself as a “writer;” this blog wouldn’t exist, I wouldn’t have found the courage to take my internal pain and turn it into a safe place for others – it simply wouldn’t have occurred to me. Without your encouragement and countless hours of technical dedication, I wouldn’t have founded The Band Back Together Project, a place where we kick stigmas squarely in the taco, a place that has grown so much, inspired so many, and provided comfort to so many. Without you, I wouldn’t have found my missing piece – words.

I know that we’ll both walk away from our marriage with grace and dignity, with the hope that given some time and space, we can once again travel the same road.

This time as friends.

When I am hurting most, I will look forward to those days tremendously.

Dave, you’re a wonderful person and I wish you everything. Thank you for believing in me during a time in which I didn’t believe in myself.

Love Always,


99 thoughts on “Swan Song

  1. You are amazing! This is a beautiful tribute to your friend. and to your commitment to each other as friends and parents and your family. ((Hug))

  2. This is a beautiful piece of writing, and my heart hurts for you. I divorced my best friend, and it was a horrible time for us both. But while we couldn’t escape that we were not meant to be husband and wife, we found extreme comfort in each other’s friendship.

    We did not have children while we were together. I was 19 when we met (he was 23), and for 8 years we tried so hard to make a marriage work. But it wasn’t meant to be. Once we’d accepted that fate had other plans, I was able to go on and meet the man of my dreams, and we are expecting our second baby early next year. My ex-husband has been there for us through everything, and I’ve been there for him.

    It can be done, with a strong will and a good heart and especially when you have children who can bring you a sort of peace together. I hope your story turns out as good as mine has, because what I went through is by far the best thing that could have happened, for everyone involved.

    Three years ago, I was in a hospital after a failed suicide attempt. Today, I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.

    Good luck.

  3. Oh, Becky. This is one of the most compassionate and heart breaking posts I’ve ever read. I hurt for you… and am sending you so much love. SO.MUCH.

  4. Your honesty, and willingness to share such raw emotion, have inspired so many to share their lives. Even if it is only a glimpse into the smallest of windows. You have given so many the courage to open up, and find their voice. You made me cry, again. A lot. Thank you for sharing.

    I had a breakdown after my husband had a v-fib heart attack.. And I am thankful, every day that I finally admitted to myself, and my Dr. that I needed help. It was one of the hardest things to say. But, I am so thankful I did.

    Sending you the brightest of light, hoping that a ray or two makes it through the dark.

  5. The most touching love letter I have ever read. I hope with all my heart that you can remain supportive friends. This much history should not be lost. Much love and luck to you both.

  6. Your gift of allowing us to share your life is amazing. Thank you. I wish you and The Daver nothing but peace and happiness in your futures – both together (as parents) and apart. Namaste!

  7. Becky, I just got divorced and no one could prepare me for the mountain of feelings underneath me. I didn’t know they were there. Every day (you call it the crying hour), something chips and I am reminded of one of these beautiful memories. They are beautiful. You described yours beautifully. Life is so complex … Fucking. Life. I am sitting here crying reading this. Crying reliving my own.

  8. I’m so glad you wrote this. I’m so glad to know you. I’m so glad you started TheBand. I hope that writing it out can help you find the peace I found when I wrote out mine. We are here for you both.
    Love and Hugs!


  9. This is haunting and beautiful. It’s obvious that even though your marriage didn’t last forever, it was absolutely not a failure. Your children are amazing and your love shines through everything you’ve written.


  10. Our stories are so similar. The birth of our son 3 yrs ago was both the best and worse day of our lives. Baby with health problems, my health problems, post tramatic stress and depression. We are almost to the end of the sidewalk and I see two roads ahead.

  11. This has to be the most amazing piece of writing I have read in a very long time. I am once again in awe of your strength and courage, you are amazing! *hugs*

  12. All I can think to say is that I Love You with a deep soul wrenching beat of my heart. I will carry your story always in my heart, thank you for sharing.

  13. Fuck you for making me cry with your beautiful words! DAMMIT! I love the shit out of you. You're a rock and when he reads this if he doesn't cry he's a robot.

  14. I feel for you. But I’m going to be the bitch and get the hate comments. If you can write about someone like this, with sooo much love, how can you not stay with them? I’ll admit, I’m jealous. I wish I could write about my own husband this way. I’m very sorry that things ended this way. It makes me so incredibly sad.

  15. Stunning. I did not expect the complicated beauty of this story. What a gift to see love and beauty in the midst of your sadness. Tears are running down my face.

  16. Holy mother of fucking God, Becky… I had no idea of the challenges you faced this past decade. I’m so sorry about you and Dave. That day we met for lunch you two seemed so solid. I wouldn’t expect any couple to hold up with what the two of you have been through, but your love for each other was clear then and I hope you can find your way to a loving friendship future. Big hugs, girlfriend.

  17. This was a lovely swan song indeed. Beautiful and heart-breaking. I truly hope you two can walk together as friends in the future. <3

  18. I’m very happily married but it took me four tries to get there. Still don’t know why the first three didn’t work or have a clue why this one does. It’s like a carnival game, you pays your money and you takes your chances. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you don’t. I’ve probably felt what you’re feeling and I hurt for you. I wish you love, health and happiness.

  19. The love overflows. Thank you for letting us read, for helping us understand.

    I wish for you both, peace of mind, love in heart, strength of soul, and limitless joy.

    Reading this, I know you will both heal. You will be friends. Life will be good.

    Not the way anyone expected, but good.

  20. Wow. Powerful words. I know you are hurting, but it is so rare and wonderful to see someone going through divorce trying to hold onto the good in the other person. Your kids are very lucky to have you and in trying to have a good friendship with the Daver, it will make their lives (and yours) so much easier.

  21. So achingly beautiful. A few people above called it “haunting.” Yes, that, too.

    Wishing you, the Daver, and your kids the best… now and always…


  22. I mean, SERIOUSLY?? I need to stop reading you at work. *sniff sniff* I only wish I could have written (or felt) something as heartfelt and beautiful as this when I walked away from my marriage. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a Daver.

  23. aunt motherfucking becky, you’re ruining my eye makeup. this is one of the most beautiful things i’ve ever read. ever. and i’ve read many, many things. you and the daver are lucky to have found each other, your children are lucky to have such caring parents, and you can have that friendship. like any relationship it takes work. my mother and father were good friends after their divorce. my mother once told me she loved my dad as long as didn’t have to live with him. they were good friends – but bad spouses.

    i hope you and the daver can have that – that you can be wonderful friends who were just not awesome spouses.

  24. This is the bravest thing I’ve read in a long, long time. Much love, strength, and everything you need & desire to you….and to your Dave.

  25. Wow. The demise of my marriage closely parallels your experience. Life was great. Married for 4 yrs, decided to have a child. My husband wanted prenatal testing. I didn't. I was 24, healthy and felt it was not my place to decide if what God gave me was "good enough". My husband was fine with my decision, although he did comment, "Well, I don't want a kid with Down Syndrome." Picture perfect pregnancy, truly the "pregnancy glow". Born 3 wks early, my daughter caught us off guard. She was born with respiratory distress and suspected Down Syndrome. My beautiful daughter had to be transferred hospitals to a NICU. My husband stayed at her side. So there I sat, alone, in my hospital room. Enter the "elephant in the corner" that no one talks about (re: his comment about not wanting a child w/ disabilities) and postpartum depression/anxiety. Fabulous combo. Eventually, I was put on meds. The doctor had suggested meds and counseling. I skipped the counseling cuz I thought I had "things" under control w/ the meds. Little did I know how this combo would tear my marriage apart. My husband withdrew and over the years became emotionally unavailable. By age 2, my husband and I thought we had our shit together, heads back above water. Lets have baby #2. Yeah, actually, that turned into twin babies 2 & 3. Holy shit, I could be looking at 3 kids w/ disabilities now. Not what I had thought possible. My identical boys were born 6 wks premature. Thankfully, they were healthy & strong. Now home with 3 kids under 3, all in diapers. Life was crazy. We managed to take care of the kids, juggling work schedules. Our lives came to pass as roommates. Emotional disconnect. I, in many ways, was already a single parent. If I was home with the kids, my husband had "projects" to work on. I brought the kids to BBQ's, parties, activities, most often by myself.

    After the shit hit the fan, I looked back and wondered if counseling early on would have helped. My husband did not like seeing me in a depressed condition. My anxiety was more of a daily struggle. Come to find out, he was resentful for having to take care of me when I was incapacitated. Hind sight is 20/20 but what's done is done.

  26. Like a few of the other ladies that posted, I too am sitting here at work (procrastinating of course) crying like crazy over this beautiful post. My ex and I were not married, but we were together just about as long as you and the Daver. Even though we’ve been apart for a couple of years now, your words, are so amazing and full of emotion is helping me finally heal as well. Thank you for being so brave to say everything you have with humor and also with respect.

  27. That was lovely. You must have gone through a box of tissues writing this. I went through quite a few just reading it. You’re plate is a little full right now, but I hope one day you’ll write a book. I think I speak for everyone who reads your blog, that we would support you through the process. Just something to keep in the back of your mind as you deal with all your changes. All the best, and just keep on being Aunt Becky.

  28. Really hating my avatar picture at the moment, but totally lacking the ability to change it on the fly….motherhumper!

    Thinking of you and the Daver and the kidderoos. Hang tough, sister. Although, on second thought, you wrote this, so clearly you've got lots of tough. And lots of heart, and lots of courage, and a hell of a lot of grace.

  29. Thank you so much for writing that Aunt Becky. It was poignant and beautiful and agonizing and hopeful all at the same time. Thank you for sharing that, much love to you and your family…..

  30. Having been through a divorce and remarried since I can say this was the most graceful and kind divorce letter I’ve ever read. Kudo’s and I hope the healing happens fast. Divorce is so hard especially on the children. Glad Odie sent me over although I can’t figure out how to follow you.
    If you could let me know I’d appreciate it. Thank you Melynda

  31. Oh.. This touched me. You never cease to amaze me, with your strength, passion, and spirit. I know I’ve told you before, but it bears repeating, you are so brave. You have been through alot of shit, and you survive. You put your big girl panties on and you rock it!

  32. Such a beautifully written farewell. Whether he reads it or not, I can appreciate needing to voice your thanks to the man who was your partner and created this family with you. It helps with the pain and guilt of standing by our decisions to move on to a place of happiness when we’ve tried everything to make it work. Hugs.

  33. I already commented but this too came to mind. It’s a song lyric that has been in my head since I read this: Nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key.

  34. Best of luck to the two of you. I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but I hope you can both find happiness.

    (This was beautifully written and obviously heartfelt)

  35. In this, you are a very lucky woman. Not many of us could describe out ex-husband this way. And bless you for having the class to be complimentary to The Daver.

    I wish I could write something like that about my ex. Unfortunately, he is described to a ‘T’ in the list of characteristics of a pyschological manipulator on Band Back Together. He wears the mask of Mr. Wonderful in public. At least now I know why I felt like I was losing my mind while I was married to him. And I thank you for that! It can help to be able to put a label on abuse and know you’re not the only one who suffered it.

    Everything will work out for you. Yes, it will. Hang in there, Aunt Becky!

  36. crying crying tears for you…of love & sadness & more love. sending you all that love in a big ball of light smack to your chest all the way from ‘bama.

  37. Wow. The tears are a flowin. For many reasons. They have all aready been listed above, but haunting, beautiful, graceful, emotional, sad, and poinent all came to mind. I wish I were there to give you a ginormous hug and wipe my tears on your shirt (you could totally wipe yours on my shirt too) Becky, you are so kind to do this hard emotional work and share it will all of us. I will never forget this beautiful tribute to your marrage and family. Never.

  38. Oh *shit*, Woman! Aunt Motherfucking Becky indeed. I hate it when you make me cry – always annoying but God love you for it. I haven’t read your blog in threeish years – haven’t really read anyone’s blog actually, so don’t take it personally. You unfortunately both helped me through and remind me of a hard time in my life, so I just couldn’t keep up with you. One of those “don’t go away mad, just go away” kindsa deals. So when I heard you and The Daver were going your separate ways, I was shocked and saddened and all that. It could so easily be me, for so many very similar reasons – at least as far as I know. I am so sorry things have taken this turn for you all, but seriously, if you can write this Swan Song, well… Divorce – you’re doing it RIGHT. It made cry, dammit! And it’s just such a gift to your children. You see some blogs and you just think “WTF? Your kids will read this someday! Google is Eternal, moron!” You don’t seem to have lost sight of that. Maybe your next project should be a little “how-to” ebook? Anyway. I wish you peace, woman. And a job you enjoy at least a little bit.

  39. I have read your blog before when I need to feel as if I wasn’t the only mommy in the world that had similar thoughts etc… (SAHM of 3 that are 5 and under with a husband that travels every week). This post is beautiful. I wish you much peace and love.

  40. A beautiful emotionally sincere tribute to both you and The Daver. I weep with you.

    My very best thoughts and wishes to you and your family are sent to the Universe.

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