Lucy is not looking forward to Christmas this year. Today her life sucker punched her really hard in the stomach. She had always feared how it would feel if her husband were to die. Her best pal, her lover, her friend—he was just too many important things to her, too many beloved parts of her life. She would never want to be joined at the hip and had much disdain for women who were, but today she felt like something physical was torn from her body. Her husband, thank god, did not die. But a piece of Lucy did.
She walked in on a moment. A moment that felt surreal and made her light headed. The man she trusted with her life was up close and way too personal with another woman. He lied. He had been lying.
Now this is where any woman reading this should say to Lucy: “Walk Away.” But life is not black and white. There is so much gray. This man was, is, a good man. And Lucy used to think that an indiscretion within a good marriage should not be the end, necessarily. But this was not a drunken fl ing. This involved a protracted intimacy—love, infatuation, escape from growing older? He claims he has feelings for the other woman. And he claims he loves Lucy. Resist the temptation to think of Lucille Ball in the old I Love Lucy shows. Ricky and Lucy had no affairs. In real life, if the TV show were on HBO today, sure there would be sex and scandal. And if it were a "Sex in the City" segment you’d be rooting for the couple, the really great couple, to work through it and love would conquer all. Except in real life you make an appointment with your gynecologist to make sure you are not the recipient of something nasty. His unprotected sex during his tryst had placed Lucy unknowingly in a potentially deadly game of Russian Roulette.
Lucy is not the fi rst woman to have her heart broken. She will blame herself in some small ways that will eat at her. Logically she knows better and would kick any of her girlfriends for ever letting the guy off the hook. But still she can’t stop thinking. She feels betrayed, sad, angry. And very frightened. Their lives are so intertwined—jobs, money, cats and dogs, plans for vacations, plans to grow old together. And so many fun things. Laughter, oh that was shared—who gets custody of the laughter?
Lucy is not unique. These things happen everyday. I feel her pain and now wonder how many times I gave the sympathetic hug and words to a co-worker or casual friend and without even beginning to feel their hurt? Why does it take a close friend to make you really “get it”? Because we do not want to think this could happen to us? But it can, and we all best take a truly caring look around and notice when someone looks like they have lost their best friend. They laugh too hard, cry too easily, drink too much and suddenly their clothes look two sizes too large.
In Lucy’s case she couldn’t cry. She wanted to cry and couldn’t (just like after Katrina—her tear ducts were overwhelmed, clogged). She’d almost let loose, little fi ts and starts, and then her emotions would just constipate her body. Her blood pressure rose and she just wanted to scream, hit and hurt both her beloved and the little slut. Lucy hated to think such ugly things about a fellow woman. And wasn’t the man as much to blame (perhaps more)? Yet merely seeing someone who vaguely resembled this person (oh yeah, she knew this woman) caused such visceral anger that Lucy’s head would seem to swell. Everything about the other woman became ugly. The way she walked, her sullen attitude, her thinness, her youth. Yep, she was forty years younger than the husband was. I told Lucy it was not about how young the girl was but how old her husband felt. Classic mid-age crisis, his problem. This did nothing to make Lucy feel less old and lumpy. And now his problem was hers.
But what really was diffi cult and shocking even to Lucy was that she could feel such hate for her husband. She had always scoffed at the notion that there was a thin line between love and hate. I remember years ago us girls discussing this, and Lucy said that there could be no real love, healthy love that could turn on a dime and invoke violent hateful feelings. But when trust is destroyed she guessed anything could happen.
I want to tell her to kick him to the curb. But relationships are more than gold bands and love making; they are a lifestyle, a career, an investment. After the Flood our City and homes were bogged down in toxic muck. Anyone on the outside would have said, “walk away it’s not worth the risk and pain.” But the City moved and limped forward and hoped for and fought for healing. Today, the scars remain, many scars, but our City has taken back its verve. Will a storm strike again, will the powers that be let us down again? Perhaps.
Lucy’s storm might have destroyed too much and best be forgotten and left behind. She will have to weigh the happiness against the pain. She, no they, will have to decide whether to walk away and say goodbye. Or… move forward. The risks will always be there—but ain’t that life.