Despite his human shortcomings, Jack overflows with love, patience, honesty, and kindness, but his virtuous nature is wasted on me. I feel that I make Jack unhappy in our life together though he never says this to me. I am not at peace and my own turmoil infects his life. In the end, it is that I can no longer bear. I cannot rob this beautiful, placid soul of his peace because I possess none within myself. I need Jack to become something that is not of his nature. In a true Catholic marriage, each partner puts the other’s happiness ahead of his or her own. If each spouse does that then they end up making one another happy. We are not counseled in these ways and we do not know how to serve one another as husband and wife in our marriage. Nor do we know enough to put Christ at the center of our union.
We decide together that we will separate in June 1994 after the school year ends. That same week the LAPD chases murder suspect OJ Simpson through the mean streets of Los Angeles, as Jack sits in the living-room sucking back a plate of nachos and I wash the wooden floors in our home. I lug a bucket of sudsy water up and down the stairs while he sits in front of the TV and passive-aggressively chomps cheesy chips, licks his fingers and slurps his pop. I scream at him to either help me or get out and he ignores me. He eventually leaves and I sit on the wet kitchen floor in my cut-off shorts sobbing uncontrollably. I don’t move nor do I stop weeping until he comes home hours later that night. I am broken down and he either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. Undoubtedly, he is shattered too.
In the end, we don’t separate amicably. He asks me for physical affection periodically – a hug or a kiss – and I know that he is hoping I will stay though I don’t know why he wants me to. I don’t give him the physical attention that he desires, and when Jack refuses to leave the house at the end of June 1994 as we had agreed he would, I tell him I can’t stand the sight and sound of him anymore.
“I hate the way you eat! I hate the sound of your breathing! I hate the sound of you peeing in the morning!” I scream at him.
He leaves after that. Who wouldn’t?
He goes to his parents until I can take an apartment in the town where I will be teaching in the fall. He cancels all of my credit cards and I have no income with which to move. I call my mother for money though I don’t tell her what it is for. The night before I leave, Jack comes to our house at ten o’clock and wakes me. “You’re not leaving me with all this,” he says. He is crying. I feel sick to my stomach and slowly sink to the floor gripping my knees to my chest.
“Jack,” I say. “Be a man for once in your life.” I pause. My mouth is dry.
“When are you leaving?”
“The movers are coming tomorrow morning.”
I make ready to leave the next morning. The moving truck breaks down on the highway and the movers are not going to come. I have carried what I am taking with me onto the front lawn to expedite the move and beg them to repair the truck and come when they can. I take the used furniture that belonged to me when I married Jack. I leave everything else. Jack shows up and starts putting things back inside our house. I scream at him, weeping and feeling exhausted. Then I just let him take things and put them back inside. I am too tired to fight anymore. I refuse to fight over things.
The movers eventually show up five hours late, and I pack up the truck with them, then load up my Mustang with what is left and drive from our house located at Ninety-nine Upper Paradise Road and Angela Avenue to Brantford. As I drive away I see one of Jack’s brothers walking along our street. He sports a furrowed brow like my husband always does when upset. He has been out for a run, and he has likely seen me load up the truck. Perhaps he wanted to try to stop me, but he doesn’t. No one does. By the time the movers dump all of my furniture and boxes in my tiny one bedroom flat, it is almost eleven o’clock at night. The apartment is so packed with cartons that I can barely move between the containers. I set up my bed, collapse on top of it and cry myself to sleep, shattered.
A few weeks later Jack calls my new flat to talk. I scream at Jack to leave me alone, and Jack doesn’t call me again until a year passes and we must meet to sign some papers. We agree to meet at the Tim Horton’s coffee shop located on the highway between Hamilton and Brantford on a cold, rainy November night. I see Jack’s car and run from my vehicle to sit next to him in his. We are pleasant to one another and I quickly sign all of the papers with which he presents me. We inquire into the well-being of one another and our respective families before a pall of silence shrouds the car. His vehicle shakes in the robust winds like a ship rocking on the water in danger of breaking free of its mooring.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t a better husband to you, Ange,” Jack says. “I want you to know that because of you, despite how much it hurt when you left me, I will be a better husband to my next wife. I will be stronger.” As he weeps next to me in the car, I think though his words are sweet, and likely words that he needs to say to me, they are strange. It is odd to hear him speak of his next wife. I look at his big, beautiful, green eyes shining with tears in the night, and weep too. He reaches for my hand and I lean into his shoulder.
“I wish I had been a better wife to you too, Jack,” I say softly. “I’m sorry I wasn’t capable of being a good wife to you. You deserve to be adored. I want that for you more than I want it for myself.”
“Just promise me one thing, babe,” Jack says. “Promise me that you won’t go back to London, to your family.” I nod my head and ask him if he is seeing someone new and he says that he is. I tell him that I am glad he is with someone and he seems to be stung by the realization that I want him to move on and be happy. He furrows his brow. “And you know what, babe? She has sisters too, but I like her sisters. They’re good people.” Jack, blessed be the peacemaker, likes everyone on earth but despises my two sisters and my parents because he feels that they treat me like garbage. “Do me another favour and send me some money one day,” he adds. He is referring to the debt he had to pay half of after we split. I say nothing. If he only knew the thousands of dollars my parents gave us throughout our marriage together because he wasn’t man enough to find supplemental income. I don’t owe Jack a penny.
We gently kiss and hug before releasing one another to an uncertain future. I jump from his car and run back into the lashing rain that washes the salt from my tear-stained face. I know then that I do love Jack as much as I am able to love anyone, but just not well enough. I reject the only human love that is ever been offered me in short, because I don’t feel that I deserve to be loved.