What a word. What a big word! A word loaded with meaning.
“removed or severed from association, service, etc., especially legally or formally” Dictionary.com
“severed”, “removed”. Reminiscent of surgical amputation, or tooth extraction: it sounds painful!
And it is.
Not quite married, not quite single. Both, and neither.
“But I’m not really married!” isn’t the exactly the world’s best chat-up line is it? Damn, I even wrote a song about it!
But that’s not the worst part – not for me, anyway. I don’t think it would help anyone – me, my children or their mother – to drag any recriminations, whys and wherefores all over the internet, and I don’t intend to.
“Separated”. Not just from my wife, from what is now the ‘family home’, but also – and most importantly – from Jake and Ellie. That’s the worst part.
Jake and Ellie. Who I’ve described as “the best thing I’ve ever done with my life”. In low moments “the only good thing I’ve ever done with my life”.
Jake. The Jake who I held “skin on skin” when he was born and who promptly stopped crying, then relaxed enough to relieve himself all over my chest. “The happiest moment of my life” I called it at the time.
Ellie, my “Tiny Dancer”. The countless hours I spent cuddling her and singing her to sleep night after night, not leaving until I was sure she was soundly asleep.
That first year I spent with them, along with their mother, as a full-time parent was at once the richest and one of most demanding of my life.
The (for the first year at least) twice-daily walks in the double buggy, in all weathers, to give them the naps they needed. The vomit, the nappies, the sleep deprivation, the tantrums. Their first steps! Their first words! I remember tweeting “Teaching my little boy to roll a ball. Happy.” And I meant it. All those precious moments I spent with them, helping them live, learn and grow: three years a stay-at-home Dad.
They’re now 8. At school, doing well, making friends, making music, playing rugby, and much more: so grown up! I see them so little by comparison. 1 day on a weekend and 1 evening during the week. I feel like they have been and are growing up largely without me.
I’d defined myself and my life around them. And now we’re “Separated”. I left my heart with them and it’s still there: Separated.