Raising Magnolias

Because it's never too late for happily ever after…

A nod to the late Tim Russert. Florida. Florida.Florida

I hate January.

I know I shouldn’t use that work and I realize it’s February, I’m just saying—ya know—for the record—that I really hate January.

Except if your birthday is in January. I like that day. I like your birthday.

January is cold and dark and dreary and there are no lights, except for those houses that never seem to take their lights down and that just gets annoying after a while, and January is hard.


A long.



I spent most of the month trying to recover my name. In and out of the DMV and banks and back to the DMV and back to the bank and insurance people who are so tired of my questions I’m pretty sure they are ready to pay me to please leave and find a new agent already, and a 1-hour conversation with the TIAA CREF people and new W-2’s or W-9’s or whatever W’s you fill out when you are self-employed and a 3 hour wait at the Social Security office.



I’m not kidding. At least 100 people all around me jammed in waiting and waiting and waiting. I couldn’t help speculate on their lives and their reasons for being there. We each had a different color.

And a different letter.

And with those colors and letters it was clear: A completely different life.

My card came in the mail today. I think I’ll frame it.

One thing is sure. I will never change it again.

And my mom and dad taught me to never say never.

One of the first questions people asked after learning of my separation was whether or not I’d change my name.

This came after the question about whether I was at all concerned about what would happen to me and my children for breaking God’s law’s.

Wait. What was the question?

Uhm, no to the breaking God’s laws.

And yes.

To the name thing.

To me that was like asking if I was still going to wear my wedding ring.

Yeah, no.

Event though it’s really.



And sparkly.

And I miss it. I miss wearing it.

And what it stood for.

Or what I thought it stood for.

Mostly I miss it because it was big. And again, ya know, really sparkly. 🙂

And then a friend said, “Well don’t you want the same last name as your children?”

And it’s almost comical to me.

Of course! But I also wanted to be married for the whole “until death do us part thing”.

Does having the same last name make us less of a broken family.

Will it make our lives easier? If I’m a Fritz, my children won’t have to go from house to house?

And they won’t have to share holidays and share vacations and yes, that is my question.

Keeping His name? Does it make us less broken?

We used to get in the car, ready for a trip and say, “OK Team Fritz, let’s go.”

But I’m not part of that team anymore.

I play for a different team.

He plays. For a different team.

I spent almost 11 hours on the way back from Arkansas recently, trying to think of a new team name for us because I didn’t know if it was right to call us team-Hale.

I came up with several (really clever!) ideas and they just stared at me. Coulter said, “Why can’t we just be Team Hale?”

Uhm, yeah. Ok. Team Hale.

That, ya know. Works for me.

I won’t change it again. 

Wherever we go, the Hales come together.

And it hard to explain….part of it is deeply spiritual and part of it’s that I simply can’t ever face having to go back to the Omaha Social Security office again.


I’m rambling, now, but that’s what January does to me. It makes me a little bit crazy. And rambly. And I really want to go to Florida.

And lie on the beach. Lay on the beach?

Because that what Florida looks like.

I  have a highly intelligent friend who has started going to the tanning bed, desperate for color and vitamin D.

That’s how hard January in Nebraska is.

South Dakota was colder. But, a little trivia for you. Next to Florida it has more days of sunshine than any other state.

Whatever. I hated January there too.

Anyway, I’m 1000 words in and it hits me that I’m actually writing to tell you that while I love those days when there’s nothing hard to write about, I’m learning that with divorce there is this ripple, this current, this ebb and flow and some days I can see with such gratitude the life that is set before me and other days I weep for the life I had imagined.

One wedding.

One marriage.

I weep when Emma Claire asks why we can’t be like Elena’s family.

I weep when Coulter tells me how comfortable his Dad’s new bed is (yes, I know that’s weird.)

That’s been this week—grief and mourning.

But I believe that joy comes in the morning.

Lord, help my unbelief.


Sunday after church the kids were singing Deep and Wide.

I know my Methodist friends remember it:

“Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.”

And there are hand motions and then you leave out words and I can picture my elementary friends standing in the front pew of the sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church in De Queen, and my mom leading and her friend Dottie Lou, with her long red fingernails, dripping with diamonds, tap-tap-tapping at the piano as we sang that together.

Deep and Wide.

The fountain flows.

And divorce is no different. The grief can be deep.

And wide.

And  flowing.

And I think the idea is that we have to let it flow through.

Couldn’t stop it if we tried.

One summer we watched as my brother’s way-too-expensive-to-wear-swimming-sunglasses floated downstream the Cossatot. There was nothing to do.

Except let ’em float down. And make a mental note to never spend more than $10 on sunglasses.

And I told a friend this weekend, I am still—sometimes—just so sad.

And he said. Be sad, then.

There’s a fountain flowing.

Deep and Wide.

So yesterday—looking for the joy that comes in the morning—I woke up and decided Emma Claire and I needed a girl’s day. I asked her if she wanted to go to the “Frozen Sing-a-long”. She looked at me like a sing-a-long was surely the worst idea ever and gave the vote, instead, for just the movie itself.

She then proceeded to sing full-voice, completely un-aware that there were others in the theater.

What would you call that? Yes.

A sing-a long.

But I have to say, a few Disney tunes and a sunny 5-year-old who still wants to sit in my lap eating junior mints and I was feeling more hopeful.

Unfortunately we un-knowingly spilled a few and they got hot and melted and smushed and, horrified when the lights came on, I looked at Emma Claire and instead of being upset she just started licking her pants.

Uhm, yeah.

Thank you Lord, for the gift of chocolate, for the joy of giggly girls  and the reminder that You are here.

In this.

We don’t ride the river alone.

P.S. Tomorrow, Emma Claire and I will be going to the actual sing-a-long.

Right after my tanning appointment.

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