Heartbreak and Triumph At Any Age: What My Mother’s Divorce Taught Me

July 27, 2012  |  

My mother is turning 58 next week on the last day of July. If there ever were black Spartans, I am sure she is a descendant of them. I learned from an early age that though she is far from perfect, her indomitable will and grace would make you swear before God she is. My mother’s marriage fizzled last year, and although even I thought she’d be down for the count, she’s emerged out the ashes of a love gone wrong…just like a phoenix.

Heartbreak has always been glorified as a matter of the young. Rarely do we get to witness the affects of the death of a relationship on women who are more seasoned. If we are to take society and the mainstream’s viewpoint, women’s hearts freeze up after age 50, and they resign to church activity and bingo games with their friends. Being the daughter of such an extraordinary woman, I should have known better than to take such simple advice from the world around me, but even I became indoctrinated with it.

After my mother announced that her marriage was coming to an end, my mind became a ceaseless cycle of worry. Who would take care of her in the years to come? Is she going to be alone for the rest of her life? How can someone possibly start over again this “late” in life? Of course, I did not utter these questions to her — the woman had enough on her plate. Besides, there really was no need to. My mother proved through her actions that you can bounce back from tribulations at any age.

One of the most brilliant things she taught me in the past year is that you are never too old to live the life of your dreams. After my stepfather left, my mother decided to dedicate herself to the things she has always desired. She started hanging out with her friends more, taking weekend trips to Atlantic City moreso for the laughs and company than the gambling. She went back to school and aced all of her courses with nothing lower than an A. She found joy in studying, in exercising her mind, and even in doing homework.

The difficult is merely difficult — not impossible. For years, mom always thought that in order to lose weight she’d need the help of a whole team like those seen on the Biggest Loser. And yet, in six months after her breakup she lost 35 lbs through diet and exercise. It wasn’t always easy to watch, but it sure was inspirational to have a front seat to this accomplishment. In watching her revolutionize her lifestyle choices, I too was able to realize the issues in mine and make proper and healthier changes.

Most importantly, mom has shown me that forgiveness is possible and needed. For so long I was angry with my stepfather — angry with him for breaking my mother’s heart, for abandoning a life he had created with her. As my mother healed and grew from this situation, she forgave him and urged me to do so. She asked me to show him compassion and kindness even when the contrary of these emotions nested in my heart. Her acts of respect for his humanity shamed me in my rage, and made me seek understanding and closure of the divorce for myself.

For all these lessons, I could not be more grateful. Wisdom comes not with age, but with experience from the rumbles and tumbles of life. We are never too old to learn new lessons not only from what our parents preach, but how they live and what they live through.

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