Post Mortem Pathology

There was a prompt to write something inspired by Dr. Richard Batista, who sued his ex-wife over the kidney he donated to her that saved her life when they were married. The reason for their divorce was that during her recovery, she fell in love with her physical therapist.

If you think about it, a kidney is not a big thing.
And he didn’t “lose” it in the divorce;
he gave it up in the marriage.
So I ask, what did we sacrifice to us —
Was it bigger than a kidney?
And how much do I owe you?

Somewhere, I lost my young body,
and earning potential,
and dreams of messy people
filling my heart and our home.
You lost me in the marriage
as I was slowly eroded and consumed
by some boring, fat, disgruntled housewife.
And we each gave up choice. And time.
Like most married people we know,
we also lost our sex lives.
Oh, we still had sex – but the life of it gave up,
faded into our collective memory
like slumber parties and grandma’s phone number
and how to play.

Are these things worth more or less than a kidney?

We hear all about the big divorce settlements,
but no one ever publishes the prenuptual agreement,
or the post mortem of the marriage that sustains,
burdened by these so many losses, sacrifices, takings and gifts.
What should we have put into our agreements —
in the prenup, the vows, the mediation agreement,
the post-it note tacked on the fridge between the school calendar
and the witty Salada teabag? Maybe something like:
+ Each Party Shall retain possession of
   or receive appropriate compensation for
   internal parts shared and lost in the name of family.

I think a kidney is a very small price.
A kidney-taking is a tiny infidelity that, although odd,
leaves you whole enough after the healing is done.
So many other infidelities do not.

Our wedding bands said
“You and No Other”;
That was our first infidelity
because almost overnight, there were others–
Two others — for each of us, for both of us,
to take us away from and towards each other.
Having babies isn’t really something that brings you closer —
sweet, warm, greedy little bodies and minds
are the ultimate marital distraction.
The first time I saw them, I knew –
I would lay on the train tracks for them,
and if you couldn’t,
I would lay you down instead.

That is more than a kidney.

Throughout, there have been countless work others–
Partners, projects and distractions
violently sucking our souls and minds,
And therefore our inclination
for adventure and affection and attention.
That is a bigger gap than what is left by a missing kidney.

And of course, there were friend others.
When we wed, we had my first crush read these words:
“Couples who look inward shut each other off and use each other up.”
So we designed a marriage based in connections to others.
Some we shared, some we hoarded.
Some that filled us up and kept us in touch with ourselves,
and some which drew me down and out in a misguided attempt
to spackle my shortcomings with their healing.
This, like his kidney, is something we shared.

So, I didn’t want an organ from you,
but I asked for a small gift –
one that I expected would be no harsher or damaging or costly
than any of those others our marriage withstood.
I wanted something so much smaller,
something that would fit in the holes we’d
dug between us.

So here’s what I asked:
Please keep me close to you, but look away just a little.
Look away as I build a new room in my heart
for this amazing woman who fills me up,
makes me remember, helps me forget,
shows me where I am.
Look away as she finds me
floating in this ocean of mediocre flubber
to pull out that solid, strong core of my soul
that deserves to breathe, and see, and feel.
I asked you not to contemplate the late nights,
the soft love songs,
the sweet smell of my breath and curry fingers
that accompanied this new ability
to finally be present in my life,
in your life, in our kids lives.
I wanted to honor our vows,
and the YOU of our vows,
but discard that “and no others”
which we’d already lost anyway.

I never let go of hope, or nostalgia,
or the profound sense of how you amaze me.
But I realized, we can’t live on those.
So I was brave enough to ask for you
to return some of the pieces
which you weren’t really using anyway.
I used them to find my soul, and I offered it back to you.
You declined.
So I took them with me when I went,
leaving behind what I hope
is just compensation for what you had to sacrifice
to let me go.


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