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September. So many of my greatest joy of my rich life were delivered to me in September. The birth of my first child. My admission to the bar. My memorable annual fall weekends with women friends. The unexpected, unforgettable kiss that left me dazed.
September also brought me my darkest hour–my husband’s quiet death as I slept beside him.
Six years after my most sorrowful September, the month of September still ushers in my favorite season. The colors of the earth bring the warmth that my heart longs for. The crispy coolness incites the back to school urge to launch new projects while the melancholy of memory makes me cling to the comfort of the quilt made of his shirts. September gifts the crystalline blue sky along with it a reflection of who I am, where I am, and what is next.
People often ask us who we are by asking about our relationships. To the question, “Are you married?” I have given many answers in my life. No, yes, no—divorced, yes, no—widowed, and now, a simple no.
When September changed my answer to “no” six years ago, I somehow imagined it wouldn’t still be “no” a half dozen years later. After all, up until then I had been married the majority of my adult life and I somehow just always saw myself as a person who lived her life as a committed partner in love.
With this September’s reflection, I observe myself in a new light. This past year I began to refer to myself as “single.” I also heard, “I’m too young to settle down” blurted from my mouth with the nervous laugh of one fearing judgment—this from the woman who is a year away from social security eligibility
After a marriage ends, we may be filled with grief or we may be filled with excitement, depending on our circumstances. We have beliefs about who we are and what our life will look like. We may worry about lonely nights or feel a newfound freedom. We may feel an urge to instantly begin dating or swear off relationships for a lifetime.
This September’s wisdom reminds me that I cannot know what my future will hold. It informs me that I am more than my marital status. Who I am includes a host of relationships that matter to me, from clients and co-workers to neighbors and new friends. It directs me to see that where I am is more than “not in a marriage.” I am a mentor to the young entrepreneur, an advocate for social justice, a cheerleader for the arts, a rooftop hostess, and an eager student with a stack of books by her bedside.
As this September unfolds, if you find yourself in the dark hour of divorce, may your reflections remind that you are more than the answer to the question, “Are you married?” As you look in the mirror, may you see all of the beauty the season brings, and all of the beauty of you.