Excerpted from Loves Me...Not: How to Survive (and Thrive!) in the Face of Unrequited Love. Copyright 2014 Samara O'Shea. Excerpted with permission by February Books.
I was standing on the corner of 72nd and Broadway talking to my mother when she gave me a startling family update: "Your Aunt Wynn and Uncle Mortimer are getting divorced." This was very strange news. I was twenty-seven at the time and Wynn and Morty had been married longer than I had been alive -- about thirty-five years. I asked what happened, but my mother had limited details.
Growing up, my cousins and I considered a trip to Wynn and Morty's the greatest adventure. Their homes were enormous -- at least five bathrooms to play in -- and always included some fabulous feature like a ballet studio, hot tub, sauna or other enhancement that didn't exist in the suburbia from whence we came. Wynn is the oldest of seven children and, having had her fill of screaming babies, decided early on that a career would be her priority. While living in Manhattan she met Morty -- an equally career-driven coworker who also had no plans to have children. She was twenty-seven when they married at the UN Chapel and, as she says, "I got married way younger than I had planned to." Oh how I admire that it was the 1970s and her plan was to marry way later than twenty-seven. Alas, love came along and there was no reason to delay.
Wynn and Morty worked hard, traveled often, and every few years moved from one extraordinary house to another. All my life they had lived on the east coast, but when I was a sophomore in college they headed west to California. After several years of living there, the decision was made to separate. My initial question about what happened was answered in due time. Morty remarried shortly after the divorce.
Since I'm telling this from my perspective, I can't speak directly to the hurt it caused Wynn. I want to acknowledge the emotional disruption without assuming I know exactly what her toils were. What I saw from the outside, however, was nothing short of amazing. She took back her maiden name and returned to the east coast to live closer to her family. There, she purchased a lovely home where she hosts many of our family gatherings. My cousins and I whispered to each other, "So, um, do you see how well this is being handled? Me too. Okay cool. Just checking." We were fascinated by her when we were little and we continue to be.
After a year of settling in, Wynn had an announcement -- a child might be in the cards for her after all; she had decided to adopt. She began the process and met a spirited fourteen-year-old named Cynthia. It was love at first sight. As you can imagine, Cynthia had had her heart broken a few times as well. Now they live, learn, love and heal together. On adoption day Wynn told the judge, "I never knew I could love someone so much." I relayed this story to a friend and he asked if I thought her adopting meant she'd always wanted to have children. I don't think so. Rather, I think the wind changed in her life, and she adjusted her sails like nobody's business. My family adjusted its sails, too -- following her lead. Wynn didn't vilify Morty, so we didn't vilify him either. Although the first year there were a few jokes made in his honor around the Thanksgiving table -- and rightly so. We now say "Wynn and Cynthia" the way we used to say "Wynn and Morty," as if it's been this way all along. And that is my Aunt Wynn's recipe for lemonade.
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