There was never a fight during that time. It was clear that they actively despised one another, but they had enough sensibilities between the two of them that they never fought or argued for that small time. I've come to realize since then that I appreciate this as the final vestige of their trying to preserve a bit of "Family" harmony in our home despite the war they had some time ago waged with one another.
When they fought, they fought bitterly and viciously. It didn't happen with any regularity or frequency, but it was always threatening to happen. They had slept in separate bedrooms for many years before they finally divorced, and I can clearly remember them going through days and weeks and not even speaking or making eye contact. Sometimes that was wore than the actual fighting when it happened, because you were always wondering when... When would the lid blow off again.
Throughout my childhood and my angst-ridden teenage hell, my sister Shay was my protector. She occupied me all of the time, took me with her wherever she went, and made sure that I was kept as far away from them as was possible. When they would go out of town on business trips and it would be just us at home, we would spend the entire time breathing freely and not worrying about anything going on in other rooms. We laughed again and spent time feeling the calm and peace, dreading the day when they would come home and it would all revert to the alternating silences and occasional venom.
I could always tell when my mother was feeling calm, because her affections were boundless and she made it a point of telling us how beautiful and special and wonderful we were. So talented, so smart, and so loved. And when she was unhappy or feeling desperate, we were the ones she had no choice but to extract sympathy from. After all, where else was she to go? We were all she really had. My father had no one at all to confide in, and so having no outlet for his frustrations, it was all bottled up and vented at the most inopportune times.
This was all a very long time ago, and I hold no ill will towards either of them for their survival at that time. I have come to understand them better and although their choices would not be my own if MY children were involved, they are of a different time and mindset altogether. They didn't have the advantages and support I have.
I love my parents, in spite of their treachery and parental failures. I have learned and been given many things as a result of their sacrifices, and for that I am grateful. But there are worse crimes against children than fighting in front of them and threatening life. There are worse things than cracking open a child's sanctity and letting its contents spill out.
Worse things like not looking when you should and trusting the wrong people. Worse things like relinquishing the magic possessed by all parents to detect the monster that dwells within the last person you would expect to harm your baby.
I am a grown man now, and my life is very different as well. I have many who love me whom I love equally, and a very special man who makes me feel like no drug ever did. In my own way, I am happy and vital and free and boundless.
I love my parents, but cannot honestly say I like either of them right now. I would be devastated to lose my mother or father at the same turn. Keeping my distance is the only way I can love them without letting myself resent them in their entirety. I'm working very hard as always on that, and finding a way to invite them back into the life I've made for myself, but it is so hard. Indeed, there are worse things.