One of the best break-up quotes I’ve ever heard:
“Divorce is like a death in the family where the corpse continues to walk the earth.”
I first heard these sentiments from our former pastor, a man who served as one of many valued mentors in my life, although he was just passing along the quote. An intensely private man, Larry kept most of his personal life to himself, which weirded out most of the AARPies in our congregation, because our church has always been accustomed to extroverted and deceptively open leaders.
This much about him was public: he was divorced and remarried. He had two daughters from his first marriage. The divorce was the beginning of the end of his run at his previous church, and he disappeared from the pulpit for more than half a decade, during which time he remarried.
We were talking about marriage and love and heartbreak and all that jazz when he offered this Divorce = Zombies quote.
For reasons I can’t explain, he shared many additional details about his divorce with me, often while watching football and drinking beer. Maybe he was using this information in a pastoral role as a cautionary tale or a warning of what not to do. Maybe he knew I was more than bitter enough about church to handle anything he shared without my opinion of him or Jesus being at risk. Maybe it’s got to be hell on a pastor, everyone expecting you to be perfect or mostly perfect all the time, especially when you get thrice-punished for a divorce over which you had little control.
Divorce is the break-up to which all other break-ups aspire. Cute Puppy Love Break-up Demons lick the scraps from the dining room floor of Divorce, their little puppy love tails tucked fearfully under their butts as they whimper under the table, their ribs pushing through their flesh while Divorce sits fat and slobbering and engorged on an overabundance of food.
When it comes to the battlefield of love, I’m like Morgan Freeman in Glory, the dude who walks out into the aftermath and piles up the bodies, except with nary a tenth of his wisdom. I’ve watched lots of good men and women fall on that field, but I’ve barely earned minor battle scars. Yet there's this twisted dark part of me that, in moments of insanity or weakness, wonders what I've missed out on. How screwed up is that??
I’d love to make some argument that we’re so spoiled in contemporary America that we even glamorize the value of break-ups, that the reason the marriage rate has gone down is because it’s more culturally celebrated to break up than it is to stay together, because staying together inevitably means that you choose to put up with entire truckloads of shit and flawed behavior from your significant other.
Except there’s this whole Romeo & Juliet thing, which is a few decades old, serving as a reminder that we’ve romanticized break-ups since the dawn of the second female.
We may have always and forever romanticized break-ups, but not divorce. I don’t know many normal people who romanticize divorce. Plenty of people pull that D trigger too soon or too often, but they’re usually the ones who pulled the wrong M trigger when they walked down the aisle in the first place. Wrong marriages end in sad divorces. Right marriages end in sadder ones. But all divorces leave corpses walking the earth, some hungrier and more present and dangerous than others.
So, in honor of respecting demons on this Halloween, I pay tribute to the world’s only real zombie-maker: Divorce.
Below are a smidgen of recent favorite break-up songs. Trying to pick a Top 10 would be like trying to pick the 10 hottest women on the planet. It’s foolish to even try, and I’d wake up tomorrow with a totally different opinion anyway.
A Sampler for the Walking Dead:
- Motorcycle Drive-By - Third Eye Blind
- Stay - Rescues
- A&E - Goldfrapp
- Your Next Lover - Lori McKenna
- Bent - Matt Nathanson
- 257 Weeks - Nine Days
- The World Spins Madly On - The Weepies
- Hope Alone - Indigo Girls
- I Wish the Best for You - Emerson Hart
- Haunted When The Minutes Drag - Love and Rockets
- Love and Memories - OAR
- I Can’t Get Over You - Buddy Miller
- Collide - Dishwalla
- Go Your Own Way - Fleetwood Mac