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Isabel Gillies Headshot

The Moment I Knew

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The other day I was in the playground watching Audrey in my son's class climb on a monkey bar that was shaped like a rainbow. She was climbing upside down and backwards. All kids climb on structures and trees that are too high and too scary but you trust somehow that they will not fall. You have to or they would never play. So, I was sitting watching her pull one slippery stockinged leg out of a rung to be put through a higher one. Suddenly I knew with one hundred percent certainty that she was going to fall, and she did, and I didn't catch her. She was all right, but I got there one moment too late. If my body had moved the moment my mind knew, I might of saved her from bumping her head hard on the ground.

When I think of the moment I knew that my marriage to Josiah would end, there were a few moments before I really really knew. I probably knew when I saw my ex-husband and his now wife, then colleague, having tea together in his office that something was amiss. I might have known when I asked him about it, instead of assuring me that it wasn't the fact the case and giving me a hug, he got angry at me and made me apologize to her, that could have been a moment one would know. There were a number of moments that felt dangerous that I didn't compute. I see those as sort of technical moments, like thinking that climbing on a jungle gum in slippery tights is dangerous but it doesn't mean you are definitely going to fall.

The moment I knew knew knew that my husband was leaving me came after all the technical moments. This moment was the moment he had actually decided, so just like Audrey falling, I was too late.

* * *

During the night I was up with James. Josiah let me sleep the next morning. It was Sunday. Ominous Sundays, but I woke up feeling like this might be a more normal day. I could hear the boys watching TV in the living room and I could smell waffles that they must have just finished. I walked down the stairs and when I was almost at the bottom I saw Josiah sitting in the library on a rocking chair I had given him. It was very low and small.

He was sitting on the chair with his head in his hands. Everything went still but for the sound of Sesame Street coming from the other room. I went into the library and knelt in front of him. He looked up at me and tears streamed out of his eyes. His mouth crumpled downwards and he squeezed his eyes shut. He was shaking and heaving sobs. I knew this cry. This was the cry of someone whose heart was breaking.

"No, no, no. No sweetheart. Whatever this is stop it," I said.

He cried even harder.

"Please Josiah. Don't go where you are going. Stop -- we will be all right."

"Nooo," he groaned. "No, we won't." He could barely get the words out.

"I can't do it. I can't do it, " he said.

He was gone. I knew he was. He was leaving me and I knew from the way he was crying that he wasn't going to come back. He had crossed a line and I was on the other side of it. He had decided and it broke his heart. It was October 6th. I will never see him again, I thought. In those five minutes I lost my husband. I knew it as clearly as I did when I found him at the foggy wedding in Maine.