My ex-wife Suzanne and I separated on September 7, 1996. It was a Saturday. I remember the date and day vividly, because it was the day after our son Andy's sixth birthday, and it was the day after the end of the work week. A friend was not able to come from Raleigh to help me move into my new apartment because he was cleaning up damage from hurricane Fran, which had passed through the Thursday before. I ended up getting help from Suzanne's partner Ellen.
Almost fifteen years have passed. My youngest son David turns 18 in 32 days. That marks the end of my obligation to pay my ex-wife child support. I sent her the July payment this morning, and I included the pro-rated August amount.
Fifteen years. It's been a long journey through grief at a failed marriage to anger at being alone to white-hot and long-lasting rage at her for taking the children 800 miles away to build her career (and at myself for not formalizing my legal protections) to joy at finding and loving Lisa to forgiving the deep old wounds.
Seven years of monthly checks and seeing the kids twice a week, then eight years of monthly Paypal transactions and seeing the kids two or three times each year.
There's no great lesson or revelation here, just the sense of realizing how much has been missed. And a few other things -- the realizations that I still know and love my children, as they do me; that my home is soon to be my daughter's again, as she moves back to North Carolina at the end of this month; that I am fortunate to have remained in the same workplace since 1998, as the economy cycles up and down; that I have my wife and my parents and my health.