I went to work that Friday satisfied with my life. I had a smart, charming husband who told me he loved me each day; a happy, healthy first-grader with a wiggly front tooth; a nice old house in a quiet neighborhood; and lots of friends.
It was a good life.
I came home that night to six police officers crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in the living room, interrogating my husband and searching our home. They opened every cupboard, overturned every basket, and pulled every file. They went through our photo books, underwear drawers, and the storage bag for my wedding dress.
They explained that a sixteen-year-old girl had reported one of her teachers. The teacher had been chatting with her online about sex and asking her to send nude photos. In my living room, in front of six officers, my husband told me that it was him - he was the teacher.
In a heartbeat, I realized that everything I believed about myself and my family was over.
For a very long time, the man I married had been hiding a second life from all of us - one in which he was a sexual predator. All those late nights grading were actually late nights chatting. All the times he skipped a dinner with friends or went to work on a Saturday to catch up... they were all lies. I had no idea; no one did. He was handsome. He was charming. He was everyone's favorite - the very opposite of what you'd picture in a predator.
The police packed up while I stared blankly, my thoughts a jumble. They didn't arrest him; I wish they had. As their cars pulled away, I told my husband to leave and not come back.
So he went to a hotel and, sometime in the night, took his own life.
There are widows. There are suicide widows. And then there is me, betrayed, humiliated, broken, and still a widow.
I stood by through the funeral. I held our son as he sobbed. I tucked away all the quiet notes recommending Dr. Smith or Dr. Jones. I snuck in back doors to avoid the media, hugged near-strangers, and nodded graciously at clumsily-worded attempts at comfort - but I wasn't crying at the loss of my spouse; I was crying for myself.
I grieve for the life I thought was true, and the husband I believed I had. I grieve for the future I had imagined for us. I grieve for a little boy without a dad, and for the day he is old enough to understand his father's crimes. I grieve for a community betrayed. For friends. For students. For the girls he preyed upon. And I grieve for the man I knew - my friend and partner.
I loved my husband deeply. But he turned out to be the villain of the story, not the hero. And, as I enter month three, I don't know how to reconcile the man I loved with the man he really was.