As usual this morning, I was awoken by the sound of a cry. Like a man reaching for a lost “phantom limb,” Madison jumped to my mind, but in about the fraction it takes for a judge to sign divorce papers, I realized it was not Maddy ringing the breakfast bell, but a cat howling through these thousands of joyless square feet.

Divorce rips at the fabric of family with a raw, jagged cut that takes forever to heal and if it ever does, the torn area never functions quite the same way again. This house once had a heart and a little girls voice pumping it with love. About a year ago, the heat of fire from an outdoor grill took a neighbors house here. Now its wooden neighbor is dying from “internal injuries.”

Having experienced the shredding of my family fabric twice, once as a child and once as a protagonist, I can report it is excruciating and destructive. Regardless of circumstances, and without assigning blame, now seeing loved one tortured by the phantom cries of a child and spouse gone makes my scars ache.