I loved the woman who ended my parents' marriage. She was not a bitch or a whore; she was lovely, and more importantly, she loved me during a time when neither of my parents had the energy to express theirs.
We saw each other every other weekend when my father had custody of me. She had perfect brown hair that reached all the way down her back, wore oversized, stylish 70's plastic glasses and spoke with a thick, upstate New York accent that I found enormously comforting.
Like many other other women, she had been told my parents' marriage was over long before she came into the picture. All I knew was that when she looked at me with her kind brown eyes I immediately felt less invisible in the world.
During the divorce, my parents' time for me was always limited. This was not the case with the other woman. Her time felt limitless. She took me shopping for my very first Christmas tree, sang songs to me while I took a bath, and she brushed my hair until all the snarls came out. She was the only person who wrapped their arms around me, giving me hope that everything was going to be okay. The other woman never had snide messages for me to deliver to my mother or father.
Then one day I showed up to my father's apartment and found her gone. The closet that once held her fashionable east coast clothes now had someone else's clothes hanging in it. She had been replaced by another other woman. I cried as my father delivered the news that I would never see her again.
When parents divorce, there is careful consideration that goes into when the best time to introduce their children to a new partner is. But thought also needs be given to how to properly honor and protect that relationship should the romance end. As the years passed, barely a day went by that I didn't think of the other woman. Was she married? Did she have a child whose hair she brushed? Did she love him or her the way she loved me? Did she remember me?
A few years ago I wrote a book that was mentioned as a hot topic on "The View." By chance, the other woman was watching. She was living six blocks from where I was staying in Manhattan. She found me on Facebook and a few days later we were sitting across from each other at a restaurant on the upper west side. The wait staff changed twice as we went from lunch to dinner without so much as moving an inch. She was just as beautiful that day as she was thirty years ago. We laughed, cried and hugged each other, promising to never lose touch.
Now every time I'm in New York, she, her husband and daughter welcome me into their little family on the upper west side. I treasure that time with them.
I love the woman who ended my parents' marriage.