Thoughts of separation – a confession

David Roper’s Elsa, on her mooring.  Photo courtesy David Roper

October 2021

By David Roper

I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Though I didn’t want to tell my wife about what I’d been going through over the past year or so, I knew I couldn’t keep it from her forever. So, it was on the plane to her home state of Minnesota this summer when I finally decided to confess and tell her about my decision. I knew she’d be absolutely stunned. But before blurting it out, I gave it all one more round of careful thought and reflection.

So much had been invested over so many years. Yet, I thought about how things had changed, despite all of the good years. Now, there was something else each of us needed. Something I felt sure would be better for us both.

To make myself feel better before breaking the news, in confirming my decision, I thought about the strained years, the ones where there was so much stress over time and expenses allocated to the wrong places. I thought about the last twenty years and what time and aging had done to change how I felt. And I thought about the secrets I’d kept, the romance I’d held in my head about departing for some exotic place far away. Something I’d never done.

The kids were grown now, and I was semi-retired, working fewer hours. Was what I had now what was really needed? Hadn’t I made a real commitment, a real investment. Hadn’t we built something together. Was this really the time to cut loose? From year to year, making things just the way we wanted them to be, customizing together and then settling in. Yet now, well, now it wasn’t working as well. It was harder to keep the shine up, harder to keep things running the way they used to. It all just seemed bigger, harder to handle.

And then I thought, when I tell her, what if she just won’t let go? What if she fights back? What if the price for doing this is too high a one to pay? What if too much is lost by discontinuing our process of building memories the way we have. Also, we’d be changing our identities, and the perceptions of those who knew us. Others ­– friends, family – would be shocked. Twenty-one years was a long time. We’d settled in, knew each other’s needs, foibles, adjusted to some of the aggravations that came from years of wear and tear.

And there were some things I couldn’t do for her anymore. At first, I’d been reluctant to acknowledge that, but then, this summer, too many things had almost gone awry.

No, this would be better. It had to be. What’s that saying? “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I looked out the plane’s window; we were over Lake Michigan. I could see the vast inland water through the vagrant white clouds, and I thought of these lines from the poet Christina Rossetti:

Boats sail on the rivers,
And ships sail on the seas;
But clouds that sail across the sky
Are prettier far than these.
Maybe sailing in the clouds was not so far away. So, it was time to tell her.

I turned to my lovely wife, who was engrossed in a book, no doubt improving her already splendid mind. I placed a hand gently on her arm.

“I can’t keep it from you any longer.”

She looked up at me, quizzically.

“I think I’m done with her,” I said.

Then I handed her this picture.

“It’s time to sell the boat.”

David Roper’s latest book, “Beyond Mermaids…Life’s Tangles, Knots & Bends,” is finally on bookshelves. It’s a sequel to “Watching for Mermaids,” a three-time bestseller, and is available on Amazon.