How Great Thou Part

A few year’s ago my son lost his friend and he said to me, “Mom, what is Great Falls going to do without Brendan Kelly?” 

Tonight, I felt anxious after being away for a week and already a bit off schedule in my writing.

In fact, this was the first time so much time elapsed between my entries. I logged onto the computer and was immediately kicked off. I then spent the better part of two hours trying to log back on. My frustration continued to build.

In the eighteen years, I have lived in my house, I have never experienced such a prolonged inability to connect to the internet. Unless, of course, it was weather related.


I was ready to abandon my efforts. I tried one last time and rather than immediately write my column, I clicked on an email from a friend. It was a beautifully written note, reminding us to remember the love, spirit, and magic of a special boy named Brendan Kelly and it included the following article written after his untimely loss at the age of eighteen.

As I read the article, I cried. I cried not just for Brendan and his family, but as I remembered the stories of his Saint like presence. The unexplainable things which seemed to accompany his being. 

Brendan was not only a gift, he was gifted and miracles accompanied his prayer.

One day I remember running into his parents. They told me they worried when his medical problems made him fall a year behind. Brendan suffered from Downs Syndrome and they feared a new class of children may not be as good to him as the class, he was forced to abandon.

“Your son has been so kind to our Brendan,” they said gratefully.

But I knew the truth. My son had not been kind to Brendan he had been taken by Brendan.

He would come home and tell me he had found the most hysterical friend. Someone who made him laugh and who was really silly and who loved video games just as he did.

Brendan had a profound sense of humor and it pulled those around him in. And better yet, Brendan sensed his gift (one of many) and the kids did not focus on his Downs Syndrome, quite the contrary, they focused on him. Brendan was an individual and he was a leader.

I know, something one may not believe would accompany a child with Down’s but it did. Brendan Kelly was a leader. Children gravitated towards him and when illness kept him from school, his friends made their way outside the school to sing to him. All the while knowing, if he could not walk the halls with them, they would keep him germ-free and meet him outside those halls.

I think rather than his medical problems preventing him from moving forward with one class, God was making sure Brendan shared his wealth.

As I read my friend’s email tonight, the article reminded me of Brendan’s funeral when the priest reminded us we could and should pray to Brendan. That he was a special child and even the priest recognized in his interactions with Brendan he had a remarkable gift.

About a week ago, I ran into my friend Maura, Brendan’s mother.

I don’t see her often and yet, I felt the urgency to invite myself to her house. She rides horses and I hoped to see her barn. I have wanted to do this for some time. I just never felt compelled enough to ask her.

Tonight before I attempted to log on, I had some personal worries.

In the past days, I have done a lot of praying for my son because my divorce has been so long and as the youngest, he has experienced the worst of it.

I do not think it a coincidence that his friend, a child who at four years old with the Make A Wish Foundation asked to meet the Pope rather than travel to Disney World found his way to me.

I think Brendan was reminding me that I should pray to him or perhaps he was indicating he heard my prayers.

I think he was telling me he would make sure his friend laughed hysterically again. 

Just as he did when Brendan said something funny in class or did something unexpected at the lunch table.

I think Brendan was reminding me he is still there when we need him.

He wants me to remember an inkling of the unexplainable mysteries and joys we knew he was capable of.

I think he was saying Great Falls, doesn’t need to worry about what they will do without him…because he never left us.

(Photo courtesy of Pexels)

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I have always been proud to be raised in a family of cops, firemen, and a priest.

I remember one day my friend “Lucy” saying to me, “Colleen, most people help their family and friends, you help the world.”

And why wouldn’t I? It was the example I saw growing up. I witnessed my uncle the priest being stopped in restaurants and hospitals and being asked for counsel or prayers. I watched my other uncles stop in the streets of New York City to help people even when off duty. My brother and brother-in-law and cousins the type of men who would rescue a dog from a frozen pond let alone a person in need.


I grew up with people who were the first men into the fire.

I grew up with leaders.

More importantly, I grew up with people who were so incredibly empathetic and caring they couldn’t stand to see even strangers suffer.

In divorce, my family and friends have gotten involved. They have done their due diligence in putting family first and most importantly my children first.

People shouldn’t have to get involved in divorce.

It should be two adult people putting their children first. It should be swift and then it should be put behind them. It should not be a person using divorce as a tool to punish even at the expense of their own children. Sadly, often that is not the case. One or both spouses carry out their vendetta and seek ‘retribution rather than resolution.’

It morphs into a ‘bullying’ environment or a more appropriate term would be ’emotional stalking’ in the hopes of destroying another person.

So what happens when a ‘war’ is declared by one spouse? 

And the other parent becomes powerless to protect their own children?

What happens in these types of prolonged and extremely damaging divorces? What is the responsibility of the family and friends of a person who is failing to put their own children’s emotional and physical safety first?

All bets are off – it is time for the family and friends to care enough about the children to get involved.

Family and friends comprise the checks and balances in our lives and cheer for us when we shine and caution us when we falter. 

They tell us they are proud of us or worried about us. They tell us when we behave and when we misbehave and they do this because they love us. They do not ignore bad behavior, especially where children are concerned.

They don’t ignore and encourage an individual to value money and revenge over their own children. 

Families get involved WHEN NECESSARY.

And if a divorcing person is reaching out because they are scared for their children then they listen.

I spoke to someone recently and asked for help. They politely declined because it wasn’t politically correct to get involved. Something rose up within me. An indignation at the willingness to watch children struggle at the hands of a parent because apparently some ‘people’ don’t get involved in the lives of those they love.

“I don’t even know what to say,” I responded. “I grew up watching strong, loving, caring, and empathetic men who couldn’t stand to see even a stranger suffer. I grew up with people who were the first men into the fire.”

I grew up with leaders.

The kind of people who know how to love.


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Women like their wine, divorcing women LOVE their wine.

Or what I jokingly refer to as the Wescape.

A pretty little place you get to run away to for a few hours to forget your worries.

One day in the beginning of my divorce I found myself in the wine aisle of the grocery store. Like a heat seeking missile, my eyes darted from wine to wine. Then as I locked in on a bottle of St. Francis cabernet, my beleaguered brain had an epiphany.

If I am going to drink, perhaps I should be drinking with the saints. 


I mean, I need all the help I can get navigating this disaster. It was the perfect Catholic girl rationalization.

So I began to ‘Wescape‘ with St. Francis and St. Michelle and on occasion other saints I could find. 

I figured a variety couldn’t hurt, right? The more saints the better.

It seemed either that or a stroke from all of the stress. Oh, and don’t worry this guilt-ridden Catholic school girl didn’t over do it. The worrier in me wouldn’t allow it but that first year I definitely spent more time with the saints than I ever had in the past.

And pretty soon instead of ‘Wescaping’ with the saints, I was carrying them around with me.

Or what I now refer to as thirty pounds of ‘Ralph’ (name changed to protect the not so innocent soon to be ex) and feeling physically not just emotionally ‘weighed down’ (love a good pun) by divorce.

Sure, I tried to lose the weight but it was hard to do during the prolonged divorce adventure. 

It’s no secret that our emotions are what generally cause weight gain, yet we tend to ignore what emotionally ails us in favor of losing those lbs. I am no different. I blamed the divorce. I believed I was addressing the emotions and just not in the space to correct them. I would lose the weight once the divorce was finalized.

Then something happened which made me realize the true emotion which was causing the weight gain.

It wasn’t the stress (at least not in my case) it was the feeling of being controlled. That I couldn’t get away even in divorce. It’s amazing it took me so long to pinpoint exactly the origin of the emotion which was keeping me from having the energy to get back to my happy size.

Just like that, I felt the desire to reclaim my physical self. 

The relief is remarkable. I no longer feel weighed (there I go again) down.

I have burdened the saints long enough.

However the other day I did spy a bottle of wine called Angeline and I grabbed it.

So as I am losing those lbs.  every now and then I will be thanking the angels for getting me through this divorce.

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I drag my chair closer to the desk, grab a headset and click on the mouse.

Computer keys pound in the background choreographed by the women who sit beside me.

My first call registers on the screen.


“Hello, Karin’s Florist, this is Colleen, how may I help you?” I utter softly, so as not to disturb the other operators.

The caller answers the greeting and the tap of my own keyboard joins the dance. I sift slowly through my first order and ultimately, begin to navigate the system with more ease than I expect.

I am fascinated by this new environment. Thus, the reason I jump at the chance to respond to my friend’s email about seasonal help for the holiday. I have long been a fan of the florist which she owns and operates.The trademark arrangements considered works of art rather than standard floral medleys.

I am here to dip my toes in the flower business. To relish the hustle and bustle, beautiful flowers and the chance to do something outside my own box.

I will marvel at the volume of orders, the behind the scenes secrets, and the army of delivery people who complete the magic.

I will learn great things such as which flower colors pair best and how to pronounce intimidating botanical names.

I will experience the floral industry.

But I am caught off guard. 

I listen to the calls as they come in…


One man asks that his card read ‘he is the luckiest guy in the world’ while another pledges ‘he is still with the love of his life.’

A dad sends flowers to his little girl while another is continuing the tradition with his now grown daughter.

A son reminds his mother she was the first woman in his life and another man sends flowers to his mom each and every week.

There are traditional Valentine’s declarations and those with unspoken words. There are serious loving proclamations and funny inside jokes. There are caring pledges and the quiet simplicity of a love which has withstood the test of time.

I am wrong. 

This is not the business of flowers, it is the business of love.

I must confess, even I at times believe flowers a luxury.

An exquisite portrait of nature’s bounty with not enough time to view the wonder.

But, again I could not be more wrong.


Flowers are not a limited luxury they are an endless expression of love.

Their time is not merely devoted to the vase they inhabit but the heart they travel towards.

And when these fragile gifts of nature shed their petals their work is done. Their physical presence spent for a heart renewed. 

The next time around, this writer will be with a guy who sends me flowers.

The kind of man who will remind me ‘he is the luckiest guy in the world’ and ‘I am still the love of his life.’

A guy who recognizes the similarity between these magnificently fragile blooms and stems and a thing called love. 

I thought I would experience the intricacies of the floral industry.

Intead, I experienced love.

(Flowers from Karin’s Florist located in the Washington, D.C. metro area in the town of Vienna, Virginia)
























(Photo my own – Floral Arrangements Karin’s Florist in the Metro D.C. area in the town of Vienna, Virginia

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There’s an expression, “We are supposed to be getting better with age.”

I’m not necessarily certain this is true in the area of love.

I think it’s possible we love worse, not better. Less and not more. Poorly rather than richly.

But children, they possess an ability to nurture and foster this emotion and a generosity in expressing it. 

Children enter this world as proud proclaimers of love.


A child will pluck a flower.  

A child will scribble a love portrait.   

A child will mold clay into an ‘I love you.’

And this is just the tip of the proverbial love mountain a child will scale. 

They will hug you and kiss you. 

They will cry when you leave them and shout when you return.

They will hold your hand and they will snuggle beside you.

They will declare you beautiful and handsome, smart and funny, nice and silly. 

They will tell you that you are the most important person in their world. 

They will want to spend time with you and beg you to tell another story or sing another song.

Children will love you.

They will use paper, crayons, clay, flowers, words, motion, anything at their disposal to make sure you understand your love makes their world go round.

They are proud proclaimers of love.

And we can learn from them:

Children interpret love and spread it further. 

Children are shamelessly generous with love.

Children are master communicators of love.

They have all the Love Languages covered.

Most importantly, they will make you feel loved.

And then, we grow up and we allow life to interrupt love. We get confused by things like ego, work, and stress.

We love worse, not better. Less and not more. Poorly rather than richly.

When those we love are often in desperate need of a flower plucked, a scribbled love portrait, or a molded ‘I love you.’

When we are in need of getting better with age.

And when only love can make that possible.


(Photo courtesy of Pexels)

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(Photo courtesy of Pexels)

Follow me on Facebook @Colleen Orme National Columnist
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The agony of an affair can haunt the spouse of a cheater.

It’s tremendously difficult to quell the suffering of this type of broken heart.

In divorce, it’s strictly the pain of seeing a past love, with an affair it’s also the person who stole them away.

The affair touch points are fairly universal for the one who has been cheated on:

  • The sincere desire but hardship in letting go of a future which has been suddenly yanked away.
  • The contempt for the ‘other woman’ or  ‘other man.’


  • The anger towards the spouse who betrayed them.
  • The tendency to beat themselves up that they missed the signs of the affair.
  • And the feeling they somehow weren’t good enough and thus, why someone else caught they eye of their spouse.

All of these things combined make the cheated feel as if their universe is suddenly out of control.

On top of that, betrayal is a nearly impossible emotion to process.

In any divorce, feeling a temporary loss of self-esteem is not uncommon. It can be even worse for the SO (significant other) of the cheater because of the last two aforementioned touch points. The potential feeling they are somehow responsible for the actions of their spouse or should have been wiser earlier can intensify their pain and anger with feelings of inadequacy.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The only person responsible for the affair is the individual who cheated.

There are a plethora of unhappy people who do not choose to have an affair. Unhappiness is not and never has been an excuse for bad behavior.

That being said, the world is not black and white and nothing could be as gray as love.

Along with the shameless cheaters, there are good people who make bad choices. People who do care about doing the right thing. Those individuals feel true remorse, acknowledge and accept responsibility for their bad behavior. It’s a fact human beings are imperfect and everyone makes mistakes, even surprising ones.

And for this reason, there are many marriages which survive affairs. 

But if for whatever reason the damage cannot be repaired and divorce ensues, the sting of being replaced by ‘another’ can yield intense bitterness.

So how does the SO of a cheater move on?

1. Regain Empowerment:

A really great counselor will teach the ‘cheated on’ to accept responsibility for their own behavior.

No, not for the affair. As previously mentioned, there is no excuse for bad behavior. Those actions belong strictly to the cheater.

But a good counselor encourages healing. They are there to help a person move from the anger and the sadness towards a place of peace and acceptance. It’s a tall order but it can be achieved. And one of the first steps is the SO taking their power back.

Yes, this did happen and yes, this person did hurt and betray them. The cheater is who they are and that should be validated. The SO needs this type of validation because they already feel crazy enough for trusting the wrong person.

That being said, now it is is time for the SO to take responsibility for their own choices. Even if they didn’t see the affair coming, it is a series of individual choices which lead all people to choose a certain partner. On top of that, a person continues to make choices throughout the marriage. Were certain behaviors ignored? Were bad behaviors enabled? Were long work hours and little family time acceptable? Were physical and emotional intimacy issues suppressed?

A really great counselor will validate the hurt and bad behavior of the cheater. And then they will try and empower the SO by reclaiming their sense of power and prompting them to realize their world is not now nor has ever been out of control.

This is where bitterness starts to subside and a sense of reclaiming personal power begins the process of ‘freeing’ the SO. 

2. Reclaim Life:

What a profound sense of relief! The world is not happening to the ‘cheated on’  they are back in the driver’s seat.

They can begin to rebuild their emotional life.

The cheater is not in control after all.

They have simply been ‘allowing’ the cheater to be in control because they felt so out of control by the cheater’s choices.

The average person doesn’t want to remain bitter and unhappy (especially because of another person’s choices which had nothing to do with them) they just do not have the tools to transition to the next emotional space. 

It’s difficult to remain bitter at someone, even someone who has betrayed them when the focus is no longer on what the ‘cheater’ did to them. But rather what did ‘they’ do to attract themselves to this person in the first place? What made them put up with or look beyond certain behaviors?

Or, if they thought the marriage was perfect and did not see it coming at all, what about their own personality permitted that limited vision? Are they an overly caring enabler? Are they a pleaser and a fixer?

The SO reclaims their emotional life as they let go of the bitterness which is ‘allowing’ the cheater to still control them.

And when they look inward to learn even more about their own self and what led them to their relationship choices.

3. Let Go:

There is so much to let go of in a failed marriage.

No one is prepared for the compounded relationship losses.

Rather than the ‘cheated on’ dwelling on those who they feel have abandoned them in favor of their former spouse and their new person – they need to let them go. They aren’t worth the time. They were never really ‘Your  People.’ If they were, they wouldn’t have walked so easily away from you.

In order to ease the pain, view it this way. Just as the ‘cheated on’ looked beyond some of their spouse’s less than favorable characteristics – so did they in friendships.

A loving, committed, caring, and loyal friend remains just that. Divorce doesn’t shake this friend’s devotion.

The ‘cheated on’ need to let go of the fringe friendships in their lives. Divorce is a way of cleaning house and though it seems incredibly agonizing in the beginning, the SO will eventually with time,  realize these are friendships they do not miss.

4. So Unimportant:

The ‘other’ person is unimportant. 

The SO just can’t relinquish that type of power to someone who could have been anyone.

This just happened to be the person the ‘cheater’ found first. They would have eventually picked someone else.

They were heading down this ‘path of opportunity.’

The individual willing to cheat with them was the first they could more than likely discover.

When looked at that way it’s pretty difficult to be mad at the person they left with. The SO can’t be mad specifically at one person when they understand it truly could have been ANYONE.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Again, the world of love is gray and some people do initially marry the wrong person and find another who is more right for them.

But in the world of cheating, in general,  ‘opportunity’ plays a huge role.

5. With Time:

Time is the truest form of healing, as long as the other measures have been put in place.

Grief is a cycle and it must be completed.

6. A New Fairy Tale:

The ‘cheated on’ just as any divorcing individual must open themselves up to a brand new fairy tale.

They can’t stay stuck in a dream which belongs to the past.

It’s tremendously difficult to walk away from a life well loved, from the comfort of a spouse, the security of a life long love, the shift in a family, the emergence of a new type of non-traditional family – none of it is easy.

It is accompanied by an overwhelming sense of sadness.

After all, the ‘cheated on’ never chose this. 

But it must be accepted and if not, the SO risks the chance of missing really wonderful doors opening in their lives.


An affair is the ultimate relationship betrayal.

And those who have experienced it need to diminish the ‘cheater’s control. They have already been hurt enough by someone who was never to be trusted with their love, to begin with. The ‘cheated on’ need to self-protect, take their power back, and be thankful they now know who this person really is.

The agony of an affair can only haunt the spouse of the cheater for as long as they allow it.


(Photos courtesy of Pexels)

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There’s an expression in the Alzheimer’s community, “You lose the person you love twice: Once while they are still living and again when they pass on.”

I remember watching my mother suffer throughout this ugly disease. To the world, it appeared I still had my mother but I had grieved her long before she passed and then again as the aforementioned thought appropriately conveys. Only those who have lost a loved one to dementia understand the compounded anguish.

Divorce is a severe loss and therefore, its companion is profound grief. 

The easiest of divorces can prove devastating to both the individual who initiated it and to the one who resisted it.


Add an affair on top of that and the brutality of emotional upheaval cannot easily be expressed let alone processed. 

Even in a typical divorce, there is often a sense of betrayal. After all, you both once stood before God and family, and friends and declared a lifetime devotion to each other. The individual walking away from this commitment promotes a feeling of betrayal…to the love, to the friendship, and the marriage.

An affair is the most egregious betrayal of love. It also presents compounded grief.

There is an enormous sense of loss not just once but twice.

The first loss is coming to terms with the affair itself. The loss of the marriage and relationship as it was. The sense of being married to a stranger and the troubling questions: How could you do this? Why would you do this? Do I really know you? Don’t you love me?

An individual who has been cheated on is dogged by a perpetual reel of questions. Ultimately, for many, ending in the realization the person they once loved no longer exists. 

The second loss arrives when the marriage ends. 

In the Alzheimer’s community, there is comfort sharing its trademark expression. It’s a silent nod to the others who have lost one precious person twice in their lives.

Sadly, the affair community fits a similar profile: You lose the person you love twice: Once while you are still married and again when you move on towards divorce.

One precious person lost twice in your life.


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I climb into bed and my head finds the pillow. This evening ritual means nothing to this divorce induced insomniac.

My chocolate lab Hazel circles next to me and finally flops down. She rests so peacefully I can hear her snuggled snores.

I can’t get a song out of my head. It is an old song which I haven’t heard in many years which makes me wonder where along my day I picked it up.

I quietly sing the words “I’m the Happiest Girl In the Whole USA.”

Tears wet the pillow.


I think of my mother and how she always said, “Colleen has Joie de Vivre.”

I have traded in that trademark joy for emotional purgatory.

A place of transitional suffering.

Initially, I was up for the task at hand. I believed I would inhabit this place of pain for maybe a year. Then I would happily shift from purgatory into purging. I would expel and cleanse the remnants of my relationship.

And it seems I have for the most part. The problem is divorce is a team sport so both people need to be willing to transition out of the marital purgatory together. Well, at least in the signing of the papers part.

The other day I visited my attorney’s office. 

As we left his office, I turned and said, “I’m kinda like your penance, aren’t I?”

He laughed and said, “Sort of.” 

My poor attorney didn’t know what he was getting himself into when this Catholic girl showed up at his door.

Fortunately, my Joie de Vivre appears to be returning sans the occasional divorce hiccup and I am transitioning from purgatory into purging.

Good news for my attorney. After all, he’s had to atone long enough for this Catholic girl’s sins.


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Every Valentine’s Day my local grocery store has a line of men in the express line that winds back to the floral department.

And there they stand a dozen red roses in hand, maybe some chocolates and the clock is ticking since it’s already dinner time. 

Of course, there are women as well but it’s generally men. What are they thinking? “Oh (bleep) it’s Valentine’s Day and I haven’t gotten my wife or girlfriend anything!”

When I see these men I think, “Who taught you how to love?”

Oh, that’s right, people like me (their mothers) taught them. 


I remember one time telling my children I didn’t need anything from them on holidays, they are after all children. However, I followed by telling them it was my job to teach them how to love so one day they would express it well to the person they chose to love.

One Christmas, I told them it wasn’t just about buying presents, they could write me something, draw me something or sing me something. And they did. They wrote and performed a group song for me. I continued to reinforce this on other holidays. I still love to listen to the song my youngest song sang for me one Mother’s Day. I have also taught them as they have gotten older to go out by themselves or together and buy presents for each other. They need to learn to make the people they love a priority.

Holiday’s are such a wonderful way to reinforce the way we love each other all year long. 


Of course, these are overt lessons. The true way we teach children to love is in our everyday interactions. The ‘I love you’s,’ the hugs, the written notes, the songs we sing to them, the ‘heart’ texts to let them know we are thinking of them, buying their favorite candy or something else out of the blue and more.

Twelve red roses from the grocery store is an obligation fulfilled. 

It’s not a love infused thought.

It’s an ‘I’m going to buy these to make sure I don’t get in deep trouble’ move.

But you know what is most interesting about the aforementioned sentence? It’s about “I’ and a “me.” 

Not about the one who is on the receiving end.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Because giving a gift is meant to be an expression of love for another not a means of self-protecting.

And as adults, we should no longer have to be taught to love.

We should choose to.


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I am driving down the road and realize something feels off today.

At first, I can’t put the proverbial finger on it.

Then I realize…

Wow, I actually slept through the entire night. No divorcemares. No tossing and turning. No up in the middle of the night.

I not only have my hair done I am in FULL makeup. Not the half up, half done look I have been sporting in divorce (at least way more than I should).I

In the first hour of being up I have made three normal life calls, such as doctor appointment, vet, car maintenance, etc.

And the scale indicates I have lost four of what I refer to as the ’30 pounds of “Ralph”‘ I have gained in divorce.


I know, it doesn’t sound all that earth-shattering. Yet when divorce shatters your world these little normalcies, the easy tasks of life which can be done with your hands tied behind your back become impossible.

You can’t think straight, you don’t sleep at night, you lose weight, you gain weight, you worry about your children, you stress about your finances and more.

So I am happy and proud to say I feel like a normal person today not an ’emotional hostage.’

Someone who can return to being a productive member of society and actually live daily life, rather than muddle my way through it.

It’s amazing what a few weeks of actual sleep can do for a person.

I must confess there is a reason for the soothing slumber. I found out something a few weeks ago. The kind of information which makes a person realize just how foolish they have been for the choices they have made in a relationship. And it lit a fire underneath me. I was furious. No, not at my husband. At myself for staying as long as I did and for making as many excuses as I did. For allowing someone to control me even in divorce and truth be told, more so in divorce.

I am done allowing the control in my life.

Still somehow trying to accommodate for fear there could be even greater consequences in divorce. Divorce doesn’t have to be this brutal. It doesn’t have to be this debilitating. It could actually be fair.

We can only control ourselves.

We can’t control others but we can control how much we allow someone else to control us.

When we figure out how to lessen their control over our lives we can reclaim them and our version of normalcy (and sleep).

I am driving down the road and realize something feels off today…

Or should I say on?


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