Monday, March 20, 2017

The Bench ~ #sol17

I believe being a writer is one of the biggest gifts you can give to your students. ~ Stacey Shubitz

This month I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for creating a space for me to share my corner of the world.

"Leigh Anne, you have a visitor," a sorority sister announces on the intercom in my room.

A visitor?  I never have visitors.  Who would be visiting me at 8:00 at night?  These questions invade my thoughts as I make my way to the foyer of our sorority house.  

Looking down over the balcony, I see my grandmother and my mom standing just inside the doorway.  I immediately think, who died?

"What are you doing here?" I ask, studying their faces for a possible answer.

"We just came to get you and Janis (my sister who went to another college in Indianapolis) for a little bit," explains my mom.

I know something is up because she wouldn't drive over two hours on week night for nothing.  But she assures me that no one has died.  I go back to my room, get my coat, and leave with them, still not knowing the real reason for their visit... 

The night I learned my parents were getting a divorce will forever be etched in my memory.  It was October, and the night air was chilly.  We were sitting on a bench on my sister's college campus when my mother told us that she and my dad were separating.  We had questions, many questions.  I was twenty at the time.  

Many people believe divorce is harder on younger children.  But I don't.

Twenty years is a long time to be a part of a family.  

Young children are told "Mommy and Daddy just don't love each other any more, but we both still love you," and they begin their life being shuffled between two households.  Young children are more resilient and often accept this new way of life.

But twenty year olds understand.  

We understand the lies, the deceit, the cover-ups.  

We understand what it means when a parent doesn't come home at night.  

We understand the words affair, adultery, unfaithful. 

We understand the emptiness of the words, "I am sorry."

We understand that a family can be shattered 

in a single moment 

on a bench 

on a college campus.

It's something we don't forget.


  1. This poignant slice bring tears. You have shared these raw emotions in a deeply honest and image-filled way. How could you forget? I am sorry for the pain this caused your family.

  2. Leigh Anne, I am sorry for the pain you and your family went through. Children adjust and carry on, adults move on, too, but none forget. All hurt.

  3. No, I don't think you would forget, Leigh Anne. I'm sorry for this hurt in your life, and hope some of it has eased.

  4. Oh wow. This is so powerful. The structure of the "We understand..." lines around the photo of the bench at the end gave me chills. My oldest niece was in her early 20s when her parents, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law divorced after 20 years of marriage, and I agree - she was devastated. She had a lot of rage and resentment for a long time.

  5. Such a powerful, emotion-filled post. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing this with us. I hope that you have found solace and peace.

  6. So powerfully written, Leigh Anne - the spareness of your writing explains the raw grief you felt then...and now.

  7. Forever etched in your mind and heart. Thank you for sharing.

  8. I believe you have found the gift from Fran with this piece. I understand, I lived a similar family experience, but it was right after I got married. It was a hurt that was difficult to get over.

  9. What a powerful and honest piece! I agree with Holly: the repetition of "we understand" and the arrangement of the lines around the picture of the bench emphasize the raw emotion of this moment in your life. We feel your pain. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  10. This post touches my heart so much. I remember sitting on my daughter's bed in her apartment during law school and telling her that her uncle had left her aunt. I didn't expect the grief that came. She wept. She explained that he just ruined it for her, that belief that love goes on forever. Yes, 20 somethings understand. Divorce is never easy at any age.

  11. Oh Leigh Anne! This moment still feels so raw. I was 21 when my parents split. I don't think I've ever written about it. Thank you for being brave and sharing a life altering moment like this, my friend.