Nan McCulloch lives in Draper with her husband, who has made all her dreams come true. She is a sometimes actor and theater-goer and has been published in Irreantum, Dialogue and Sunstone. She is pleased to be able to contribute to Segullah.
We separated just before Christmas 1980. We told the children living at home. When we told our youngest son, he said, “But Dad, you promised it would never happen to our family.” Next I worried about telling our daughter. She was coming home from Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, for the holidays. I wanted to warn her, but her father wanted to tell her himself when he picked her up at the airport. Our hearts were heavy that Christmas Eve. I trimmed the tree, turned on the lights, and fixed clam chowder, homemade rolls, and a red and green tossed salad. I set a beautiful, festive table and sat down and waited for my husband to bring our daughter home from the airport. When she walked in the door she looked like she was in shock. She came home for a wonderful family Christmas and found that her life would never be the same. None of our lives would ever be the same. I didn’t want a divorce, but it was not my decision. It was devastating to all of us–worse than death. The children never really recovered from the pain. Our son told me that his dad had spoiled our genealogy. My husband asked me to write him a letter expressing my feelings about what had happened. I wrote:
“You have asked me to write my feelings and I am not sure why. It’s hard for me to share my suffering. I have always kept my problems to myself. Do you really want to know my feelings, or do you just want me to have an outlet for them? Yesterday I heard a positive mental attitude tape, it talked about the amputees in a veteran’s hospital. They have to be drastically reprogrammed to learn to accept their loss of limbs. For months they awaken feeling their toes when they have none, wanting to scratch their arm when they have none, starting to walk to the bathroom when their leg is gone. The children and I are trying to reprogram, to get used to the idea that you are gone. Each morning I awaken and the cold realization stabs my heart that you are not beside me and will not be. Then the day begins and I have to face the children and try to send them to school with a cheerful heart.
On Sunday I had to play the piano in Junior Sunday School. When we sang, “Families Can Be Together Forever” I had to duck down behind the piano so our son couldn’t see me crying.”
You chose to leave and I chose to stay. We write our own stories; we just don’t get to choose the endings.