Monday, April 15, 2024

Voices of Experience: Get Over It (maybe not all of it)

Losing a mate to death is devastating but it's not a personal attack like divorce. When somebody you love stops loving you and walks away, it's an insult beyond comparison.  ~ Sue Merrell

Brenda Johnson thought her life was predictable until a sunny Saturday when her husband announced he wasn't happy. Stunned by the message, she picked her heart up off the floor and biked to the farmers market. When she began to live alone, her life was normal as she moved into each day with music from the last, but sadness lingered too long after a reasonable divorce with no hate, theft, or slander. Weary of tears, her mantra became, "Get over it!" Her memoir chronicles her family’s early years and the years after her husband left, when it took too long to get over the tears. The stories of before and after divorce, sprinkled with humor and sorrow, are familiar to anyone who has experienced loss.

 I cried every morning those first months as I left our sorry house, where the only communication was a dark cloud, and no one hollered “Love you” on my way out the door. It was winter, and I set out for school on my bicycle in the dark. Tears spilled, rain hit the sidewalk, and my bike tires spun through puddles. I arrived at school with tears plastered to my cheeks. I put on a good face and bustled around the classroom to get ready for the cute kids who would soon race to be first to class. I taught them to read or to read better. I was good at that. 

Hardship is no stranger to my students. Nor is sadness. Many know loss, but they never knew mine. I hid it well until morning recess, when I cried in the staff lavatory. My reflection in the mirror was awful. I washed my face, turned around, and returned to class to welcome my breathless students from the playground. 

I cried the minute I closed my classroom each late afternoon and climbed on my bike for the ride home. I cried three miles out of nine on the route through the wetlands. I couldn’t tell my own tears from the rain on my cheeks, nor snowy egrets from showy gulls. 

I liked belonging. My husband of 32 years and I were in it together, until we weren’t. Carl Jung writes of “belonging” after his wife’s death—the whole vision of her in a dream rendered him speechless. I wanted to be that precious. It’s a lot to ask.

© 2024 by Brenda Johnson

About the Author: 
Brenda Johnson spent early years on a ranger station on the wild and scenic Selway River in the panhandle of Idaho. Miss Calvert taught her to read in a one-room schoolhouse before her family moved over the mountains to Montana. Montana’s Big Sky still draws her home every summer. Brenda studied Camus and poetry in college and learned to love the written word. As a public school reading specialist, she turned kids onto the code, the word, and the story. Brenda lives in Oregon on a pretty little street with very fine neighbors. She likes to hike, bike, ski, and garden. Children—neighbors, students, Brenda’s kids and their kids, are important to her life. Visit her website,

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