This living together but apart is a total learning curve. Just when I think we have encountered every scenario which could possibly raise its head, something new comes along.
Two weeks ago our cat became ill. My ex took her to the vet. Like our son, the cat was something that continued to bind us together. She was our pet. Decisions about her were made jointly, not always harmoniously, but together nonetheless.The vet said she had advanced kidney disease, and that she had a 'week, or maybe a year'. In other words, no one knew. My son and I were away holiday at the time. I was delivered the news by phone. "But he must have said something else," I cried, "What exactly did he say?" "Just that," my ex said. "But didn't you ask what he meant?" "What was there to ask – that is what he said – a week or maybe a year." I found myself becoming frustrated that the questions I would have asked had not been put. A row threatened to brew, and I put down the phone, turned to my ashen-faced son, who'd got the gist of what was going on, and explained to him that our cat was dying. One week later, she did die. In my arms. My son was at school. My ex was in the shower. I tapped gently on the bathroom door, still clutching my little scrap of cat. "She's dead," I told him. He pulled a sad face and stroked her as I clung on to her. I felt totally and utter alone in my grief. In any other house we would have grieved together. I have never needed anyone's arms around me so much. But instead, like with everything else in our odd life, we took ourselves off and dealt with it separately.
Read more of Kelly's painfully honest columns, The Semi-Detached Parent, here.