Written by Kerry Elizabeth Blickenderfer-Black
6 June, 2013
Belinda designed the stained glass to represent what the country house meant to her, a new beginning, a night of promise. The sun blended into a moon, silvers into golden hues, much as a yin yang. Luckily her friend Abigail was tiny, because to measure the circular opening, she needed to climb a ladder 15 feet and trust a ledge in the foyer above the entry door of the Butler County home. After the carefully chosen pieces of glittering glass were cut into the required shapes and soldered together, Abigail again climbed the ladder and secured the sparkling artwork with hammer and clips.
The two friends held hands as they admired the way the light skipped about the vaulted walls and ceiling. Belinda had a serenity that was infectious, an optimism that many considered naive. The effect was a wide-eyed, innocent way of looking at the world that Abigail and all of Belinda’s friends wanted to protect. The assurance that the world was good emitted from her, much like the colors danced through the newly-placed artwork they admired.
Belinda designed the stained glass also to represent her marriage. She and her husband, Gordon, were as different as the two astral bodies represented in the art. While he craved attention, she was contented to observe. He basked in her support, and she supported him in his many endeavors.
But it was not too long into their marriage that the problems arose. Her support would no longer satisfy him, since he was always requiring a wider range of admiration. She became befuddled, blaming herself for the growing distance in their relationship. She hastened to please and build him up emotionally, but unbeknownst to her, he was finding the padding to his vanity elsewhere.
Eventually, Gordon felt that he needed to take greater control of their marriage. Their relationship became increasingly about him controlling her. He complained about who she spoke with on the telephone, who she entertained at afternoon tea. She limited in her access to the bank account, claiming that he did not like the way that she spent their money. He resented the hours that she spent at work, claiming that they infringed on his activities. She should not drive the car too frequently, he reasoned, since gas was expensive. Without realizing that he was doing so, Gordon hoped to cut his wife off from those she loved and thereby force her to cling tighter to him.
Then, one November morning, he grew entirely tired of the situation. So, he wrote to her in a four paged letter that he left in the center of the granite countertop of the kitchen island, accusing her of selfishness and of being needy. He told her that he would require his freedom and that she would need to leave. He did not agree to the marital counseling that she recently begged they attend together, since he felt that she was the problem, not him. He wanted a divorce, period. It was non-negotiable.
She read the letter in shock and dread. Her hands shook when she telephoned her friend, reading it in a voice that matched her shaking hands. “What does it mean?” she desperately asked Abigail, who tried to disguise her anger at Belinda’s naivety. “It means that you need a good lawyer,” Abigail said.
She suggested that Belinda pack up all of Gordon’s things and place them on the porch. “Change the locks.” “I won’t do that to him,” Belinda said. “He has nowhere to go. I have family who will take me in.” The light from the stained glass danced in time to a marble table-top fountain that bubbled in the foyer as Belinda slid down the wall in a tearful huddle, unaware of the fascinating light display above her head.
That day, Abigail came with friends to Belinda’s house. They packed up her belongings, careful not to touch anything of Gordon’s or, on Belinda’s insistence, anything jointly purchased. “That can be worked out later,” Belinda reasoned, secretly hoping this move would shock her husband into appreciating their marriage. A single rented U-haul transported Belinda and her worldly goods to her parents’ house, to parents who tried to comfort their inconsolable and numbed daughter.
Instead of pleasure when he came home and found Belinda gone, Gordon was incensed. He telephoned her cellular telephone demanding to know where she had taken his belongings. Already feeling tremendously unsteady from the profound emotional shock of the dissolution of their marriage, Belinda was tearfully confused. She explained that she only took what was specifically her own. Glaring about the empty house, Gordon fumed. The late afternoon sun caused the stained glass to shine to the outside world as though lit from within. He demanded that Belinda return at once everything that she removed from the house so that he could inspect and determine the honesty of her statement.
Her parents and friend insisted she talk with a lawyer. She reluctantly telephoned the attorney recommended by Abigail. The process of equitable distribution began, despite Gordon’s fury. The house would be sold and the profits split equally.
The property sold quickly. Heedless of his two hundred pounds, Gordon climbed the 15 feet to the ledge where his discarded wife placed an annual Christmas tree display and, without regard for the house, removed the stained glass, not from sentimentality, but rather from a need to possess. The stained glass that was specific to that space, designed to enhance the house for perpetuity, he removed, leaving ugly gouges scarring the plaster in the space above the entryway in the foyer.
Before the divorce was finalized, Gordon moved into a split level in a suburb of Pittsburgh with a young lady of his acquaintance who flattered his ego. He put the stained glass in the front window of this new house, contented imagining Belinda in perpetual tears from losing him and their marriage. It was not long, however, before this “I love you always, Tracy” became disillusioned with Gordon and moved.
After the divorce was finalized, Belinda found her own apartment and her own emotional footing. She rekindled friendships and cautiously began dating a good man, Edward, who valued her. As time progressed, succession of women came to reside with Gordon, all leaving before the light filtered through the stained glass changed with the passing seasons. When Belinda and Edward married, Gordon cut his hand on the shattered bits of the stained glass when he smashed the lovingly designed piece of art