Monday, November 29, 2010

Memoir bigamy

I am married to two men. One is alive...

...and one is dead.

I married Dave three years after my first husband Ron’s death. He was pretty brave to do so. At the time I met him, a cursory look at my relationship qualifications might have gone something like this: “Over the course of 15 years she drove her husband to drink, and then when she told him she planned to leave him, he killed himself. Bonus: two disillusioned sons entering adolescence.”

That’s not an ad most men would answer.

But Dave's a special kind of guy. Early on, he told me: “I know Ron’s suicide is something you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.” Considering that’s the exact same term Dave expects to spend with me, I guess he knew what he was signing up for.

Or did he?

It’s no secret: lately I’ve been spending a lot more time with my first husband than I had ever planned to. The memoir requires that I remember what I loved about Ron, and why I wanted to start a family with him. I’m re-immersing myself in some of the most precious times of my life, none of which included Dave.

On any given morning I might have spent hours writing a scene about my life with Ron on the farm, hearing the horses whinny, smelling the manure—only to hear Dave call up to tell me it's an hour past lunch time, do I want soup? Sometimes I fall asleep beside Dave but spend the night with Ron, who visits me in dreams that I share with Dave when I wake up.

A friend of mine, in a comment after a recent post, described my memoir writing as "periodically pulling back the curtain" to share my reflections. I thought that was beautifully put. At times, though, the curtain between my two worlds is as thin as gauze, and the suddenness of such time travel can be discombobulating.

I asked Dave if the time I spend with Ron bothers him. He said that he knows I still have questions, so does he, and he encourages me to keep searching. Dave does love a good mystery. But he also admitted: “I have been jealous a few times. Especially about the dreams. I guess I wish you might dream about me every once in awhile.”

First let me just say how cute I thought that was.

But when he said that, it made me think: I believe Dave is in my life because I did dream of him. Despite all I went through with Ron, the loss of that relationship left me with a vision of marriage that I still hoped to bring into my life. And when Dave arrived, it didn’t take long for me to recognize him.

Truth is, I don’t need to dream about Dave. For the past ten years he has been my rock-solid reality. And when I need to talk with him about something, he’s always there, ready to listen and share his own feelings.

Beyond the first few years of our relationship, I’m not so sure Ron ever listened to me, although he liked to hear me talk. And he rarely shared his feelings with me.

And so, thirteen years beyond his death, I continue to chase him.

Was I even “free” to marry Dave? There are those who think not—including myself. More about that in my next post.


Mr Lonely said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dianna Sinovic said...

Great post, Kathryn.

Linda Wisniewski said...

Interesting premise: memoir bigamy. They say when you know what you want, it appears in your life, just as Dave did. But the 'still chasing Ron' part has me intrigued.

Tiffani said...

I love this, Kathryn. It's beautiful:)

Kathryn Craft said...

Thanks, Dianna and Tiffani.

And Linda: The next post should clear up the concept of me "chasing" Ron.

But I think your comment is so true. I think we are surrounded by things and people who can add richness to our lives, but we have to have the right question in our mind--and our eyes open far enough--to see them for what they are.