April is the month I will never get through unscathed, as long as I live.
Let me start by saying that, for me, April had always been a month of happiness. Of love. Of goodness. It was a month of joy.
April 15, 1993 - Ira and I decided to commit to only dating each other.
April 4, 1995 - Ira asked me to be his wife. I joyfully, tearfully, accepted.
April 6, 1996 - We become husband and wife in the eyes of God, and the State of Illinois.
But then April turned bad.
April 10, 2011 - Ira's grandfather died. Except he is never told about it. That's right. His mother, sister, brother-in-law, and uncle decided, for whatever reason, to keep the death of his grandfather a secret from him. What kid of family does that?
April 11, 2011 - I, through some bizarre twist of fate, discover that Ira's grandfather has passed away. I text him my condolences. Little do I know that my text IS THE VERY FIRST HE HEARS OF HIS GRANDFATHER'S PASSING.
April 17, 2011 - I find the father of my children dead.
Let me repeat that.
April 21, 2011 - My children and I bury their father in the cold, musty earth.
April 21, 2011 - My ex-mother in law tearfully claims to anyone at the funeral, shiva, etc, that I killed him. She's batshit crazy, so all of her ramblings are taken with a grain of salt.
April 22, 2011 - My ex-sister in law and her husband rent a van, and drive three hours from Chicago, only to steal everything out of his apartment. They steal the pictures his children had make him in school. They take the Father's Day gift my children gave to their father. It was a small wooden bat that said, "#1 Dad." Jeffory Jacobson and Debbie Jacobson steal my children's toys. They take Z and J's LEGOS. They. Take. Everything.
April 23, 2011 - I drive to his apartment, hoping to talk his sister into allowing my children ONE REMEMBRANCE of their father. My daughter only wants Ira's #54 Bear's Jersey. Z? He just wants Daddy's train set. Upon talking to Ira's neighbors, I find that they had driven into town a day earlier, and had stripped his apartment of everything.
April 25, 2011 - I receive a formal letter from Arlene Wojtalik's attorney, stating that if I simply sign a "waiver", I will be allowed to drive 1.5 hours (midway between Chicago and the town we live in), collect the belongings of my children's deceased father, and drive everything back home. Where it had originally been.
Have I mentioned that these people are SCUM?
April 29, 2011 -That month my attorney fires off a letter to the attorney representing my in-laws, reminding them that his children are his sole heirs, and thus were entitled to receive all of his property. They are informed that they bear the burden of driving all of Ira's belongings back to our town, thus delivering to my children the very last of their father.
On the pre-arranged day, my mother takes my children for the afternoon. So they don't have to witness their father's belongings unloaded like so much random gypsy furniture. He deserved better than that, and so do they.
Do you know that “feeling in the pit of your stomach" that precedes a terrible premonition? That's what I had the weekend of April 17th. When Ira didn't return my daughter's texts all weekend, I just knew something was wrong. Something really, really bad. Imagine that, after 2 unsuccessful days of trying to contact your ex-husband, you tell your children that you’re "going out for a loaf of bread.” Only you drive to your ex-husband’s apartment, with that pit-in-your-stomach-feeling. That feeling that forewarns you that life, as you know it, will never be the same. Ever. Upon arriving at your ex-husband-of-just-three-months apartment, you find the door locked, his poor cat yowling, and that goddamn fan that you bought him last Father's Day oscillating back and forth...back and forth....back and forth, and you text him. You inform his cellphone that he has FIVE GODDAMN MINUTES TO ANSWER HIS PHONE, OR YOU'RE CALLING THE POLICE AND YOU'RE AS FUCKING SERIOUS AS A HEART ATTACK!
Your hands shake as you text this message to him. Because you already know. Deep in your soul, you know that your husband of 16 years, your lover of 18 years, the father of your children, the one you envisioned yourself growing old with....is dead. You simply know. When the police arrive, they call the Coroner.
Because the police aren't allowed to pronounce anyone dead. Only the Coroner, or the Deputy Coroner, has that right. The Deputy Coroner that presents himself at the "scene of the investigation" is named Jerry. And Jerry is very, very, very kind. He oh-so-carefully hands you a pamphlet entitled, "What To Do When A Loved One Dies", and he gives you his personal cell-phone number. He tells you to call him whenever you feel the need.
At the time, the only need you feel is for a stiff Vodka and Tonic.
That's the day you discover that the Coroner's office doesn't arrive in a hearse anymore. They now drive black Ford SUV's, with the emblem, "County of Peoria" on the driver's side door.
Try to imagine what it’s like, driving back home with his elderly cat on your lap,choking on horrified sobs. Bursting into tears at every stoplight, only to stop crying once the light turns green. Because from this moment on, your kids now only have ONE parent, which is you. And the very least you can do, on this oh-so-sunny late afternoon in April, is to ensure that the one parent they still have arrives safely at home.
Now, try to imagine this. Your children are being cared for by a neighbor (you made sure of that), and as far as they're concerned, all is right with the world. They are happily eating pizza and watching Spongebob Squarepants. Meanwhile, you are driving home with your dead ex-husband's (has it only been 3 months since the divorce was finalized?) elderly cat on your lap.
That was the worst day of my life, hands down.