I felt like the room was spinning out of control while at the same time someone landed a punch in my gut. Nerves were welling up inside me; I knew something was wrong, even though we’d only exchanged pleasantries so far.
She hesitated, then took a long, measured, raspy, breath. Her voice was quiet and wavering as she said “We’re splitting up.”
I was surprised, yet not entirely shocked. I knew that for her to reach this point - to disrupt the axis of her nuclear family - something really terrible must have happened.
Immediately my mind flooded with one thought - my children. Her children. But my children.
I wanted so badly to ask “How are they doing?” but I could not interrupt her. Not yet, at least.
They are not my children, they never were, and I’m secure in this. But faced with these life-changing events, I wanted fiercely to protect them as if they were.
Sadness took over my heart as wonder buzzed through my brain. I breathed deeply and tried to process this news. She sobbed quietly into the phone, trying to be strong.
She wanted to be strong for herself, she wanted to be strong for her children, and I knew she wanted to be strong for me as well.