stories worth a thousand words #27



Written: December 9, 2004

Booking the trip was easy. I rang around a few travel agents until I found one that had a one-way ticket to Playa del Ingles on the Sunday.

Unfortunately, the earliest flight they had was 1pm, but I knew I would still have to leave the house early in the morning to make my getaway. I went on my lunch hour on the Saturday over to Georges St to pay the fare. Once I had the ticket I called Caroline and surprised her by saying I would see her the next day and to save a spot on the beach for me.

The two of you were in your gran’s that morning, and I made some excuse to go over to see you before I went to work. The last time I looked at you both was in the kitchen, with RA down helping at the sink and CJ in his high chair. You both smiled at me as I said goodbye but of course neither of you knew what I had planned.

I got through the day’s work in the sports store downtown, and as luck would have it, the staff had a night out planned at a pub nearby, so I could at least have a few beers on me to help me sleep. Caroline rang me a couple of times while I was out to make sure I would in fact go through with it; hearing her voice strengthened my resolve.

I think I had my goodbye note written the Friday evening. I have little memory of what it said; MyX would probably remember it better. As far as I can recall it had something to do with my not feeling good enough since losing my job to provide for my family, and also that I was very sorry. I definitely did not say where I was going or who I was meeting.

And so, at 5am on Sunday, armed with a bag of essentials, I left the note on the kitchen table and went out to the front of the estate to get into the taxi I had reserved the previous day. From the time I originally picked up the ticket to the time I reached the departure lounge, time flew like it has never flown before. Once checked in, and left with a wait of about seven hours before boarding, it moved at a snail’s pace.

Although I had left my mobile phone back at the house, I could not resist calling its answering service from a payphone at the airport to see if MyX had left a message. “You have…ONE…new message” She was understandably in tears as she spoke, but a few things she said were totally unexpected; “Please don’t hurt yourself”, “This is all my fault”, and “This is a very brave step for you”. It was the second sentence that began to turn me towards staying.

I could not believe she blamed herself, for as far as I was concerned it could not be further from the truth. I was so down on myself that the possibility of her having responsibility was nigh on unheard of. I had been fired, I had been unfaithful, I was the lazy git. Guilty as charged, I was convinced they were far better off without me.

Eventually I caved and rang the house directly. MyX had calmed down considerably. I have no idea who admitted what first in this conversation, but we disclosed our respective indiscretions to each other, mine with Caroline, and hers with TheHairGuy (BikerBoy was to come at a later date). The confession felt so good. I instantly forgave her everything, and I was amazed that she was even willing to talk to me, let alone be civil.

After the first couple of calls I was still planning to leave. Apparently in the meantime she brought the kids over to her mother’s and told her everything. Then I called again and we started to talk about my coming home. I called Caroline’s mobile and found it very easy to tell her answering service I wasn’t going through with it. MyX drove to the airport to collect me and I threw the ticket into the trashcan outside the arrivals hall. We went back to the house on our own, talked a little bit, and even made love. Thinking about it now it was all so bizarre. Yet it happened and I could not be more ashamed.

In case this hasn’t quite sunk in, allow me to recap. I planned to leave my wife and two kids and take off for the Canaries to be with a girl ten years younger for a fling that would not have lasted more than a month at best. I got as far as buying the ticket, leaving the note for MyX, and heading for the airport. I then chickened out, though had there been a flight in the early morning I wouldn’t have.

For some crazy reason, I actually believed it would all be ok after this. Even MyX’s official press release of “I can forgive but I can never forget” didn’t get through to me. As far as I was concerned, if I forgot what happened, so would everyone else.

RA and CJ, I am so incredibly sorry for this, but I feel it is something you both deserve to know. I hope as the years go by you can look back on how I’ve been with you and know that although I will always have guilt in my heart for what I did; whenever I am with you both all I can feel is the love that I cannot describe in a million words let alone a thousand.

Monday morning came, and I opened the shutter to the sports store. I decided a display of the new rugby jerseys would look good down in the main window – it would take me the best part of the day, but the store definitely needed a fresh new look.

© JL Pagano 2004



shandi said…
When they're ready, I think it's important to explain to our children that we make mistakes as parents. I feel awful that my children are now the product of a broken home, but I also believe that in some situations, divorce is the better option.
I believe that if one or the other refuses to forgive, it is better to move on. Living with the guilt and the hurt, will destroy you eventually. If you can't get over it... move on.
Great story. Is there a part 2?
JL Pagano said…
Thanks for the understanding, Shandi.

There is a part 2 of sorts, that's to come later, so you'll just have to wait ;-)
Anna said…
Now, I know that you call yourself an American living in Ireland, but Jeff I have to say that it is soooooo Irish of you to insist that the whole thing was your fault. Yes, you did things you regret, no question there. But you also say very clearly that the confessions weren't all one-sided. So, how come the responsibility is?
JL Pagano said…
Thank you Shan also for your interest.

The break up of our marriage is something we will have to accept responsibility for seperately one day, if not equally, to our kids.

I wanted to capture the way I felt on that particular day with this chapter - it does not reflect the way I feel now. Hopefully those demons are long since exorcised.

I'm not going to lay blame at her doorstep for this, just accept my own and be done with it. The kids can make up their own minds, and she can tell her own version of the story.
Anna said…
Excellent news, Jeff. Thanks for clarifying that for me.
Red Mum said…
Very poignant story and wonderfully written. It's the real ones that hit the mark hardest.

Maybe it's time to forgive yerself too...

My parents spilt when I was younger and honestly as a child it is so much better to live separately with one parent happily than two parents who are miserable. Hey but you do know this.

Break-ups are awful awful things BUT kids are wonderful resilient growing wee people. As long as they have the love and attention of their Dad, however you manage it, they will be happy children.


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