James Mumford

A diary of divorce

I'm grieving for my marriage

  • From Spectator Life

I’m living in the interstices between smokes. I fill the gaps ruminating, on the unretrievable past and the foreclosed future. I can’t concentrate enough for any one of my thousands of books to be a distraction. I wake up and count the hours until I’ll be tired enough to go back to sleep (or, on the weekends, until Match of the Day). My wife is gone. She’s gone for ever.

Sometimes I hear the voices of reassurance. Be grateful for the time you had with her. I’m idealising our marriage. There are other fish in the sea. Thoughts which seem momentarily plausible. Until, as C.S. Lewis writes in A Grief Observed, ‘then comes the sudden jab of red-hot memory and all this “commonsense” vanishes like an ant in the mouth of a furnace’. 

The red-hot memory of the way she’d throw her head back when she laughed with abandon. Or smack her lips when savouring Riesling. Now it’s 27-11-2009 and she’s a bright white flash emerging, tentatively, out of the low sun flooding through the rear west doors of the church. Or fast-forward to 19-5-2016 and her eyes narrow as she focuses on the hospital ceiling fan as we await the fruit of her labour. 

I find myself struggling to communicate my loss in ways that escape cliché, in ways that convince people my pain is unparalleled. There is a monstrous egocentricity in this. Yet, in terms of grief, I am not the first to think I am the first

I lie on my side. In my boxer shorts. My thighs, one on top of the other, stick together. The lethargy. Shall I go to the gym? I need to slim down. But for whom? Shall I shave? For whom? 

Last night I woke up shouting her name. Other nights I wake up and can’t remember where I am or why the right-hand side of the bed is vacated.

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