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VIRUS DIARY: Finding a surprising source of support in an ex

May 26, 2020 - 6:25 AM

CONCORD, N.H. - Embarrassing to admit but oddly comforting: My ex-husband’s husband and I share a slight crush on our state epidemiologist.

Frankly, I never thought I’d have an ex-husband, let alone one who has a new husband. And I certainly never imagined he’d become a main source of support during a global pandemic.

True, we’ve come a long way since divorcing four years ago. Attending his wedding last fall with a boyfriend of my own, I’d felt happy and hopeful for all of our futures. But three months later I got dumped, and I was still struggling with that when the coronavirus crisis hit.

So now it’s my ex who listens to my parenting and work woes, saves magazines for me to read, and delivers not only grocery staples but cakes, cookies and pies from a favourite bakery. Sweet, on multiple levels.

Like other divorced parents, we’ve had to weigh the risk of sending our 15-year-old son back and forth between our homes during a pandemic — a topic that wasn’t covered in the excruciatingly awkward, mandatory co-parenting class we took when we split up. Initially, we stuck to our 50-50 custody schedule, and I even spent a day at his house when a snowstorm knocked out power to mine. Later, we decided it was safer for our son to stay with me, which lasted for a long, challenging month. I was both reluctant and relieved when my ex suggested I send him back.

More recently, the four of us have gotten together for virtual games of trivia and Pictionary and made plans to celebrate the Fourth of July in person at the cabin we co-own but since the divorce have only visited separately. I teared up when he texted that he’d make fried chicken — my favourite. Crying without really knowing why seems to have become a habit these days, but that’s OK.

When I’m not working, I’ve been sewing dozens and dozens of fabric masks to donate to hospitals, social service agencies and my brave colleagues. I’ve sent them to family and friends, too, including my ex-husband. I knew he’d pick the green one and give the blue to his husband. They texted me an action shot from Home Depot, shopping for supplies to spruce up the yard that used to be mine.

Foolishly, I also sent a mask to the man who broke my heart in January. Did I expect he’d show up outside my window like John Cusack in that perfectly socially distanced scene from “Say Anything,” holding a boombox and wearing his mask? Not really, and I wasn’t surprised by the polite thank-you note that arrived in my mailbox. But it did hurt, which just goes to show that sometimes, the mask does protect the wearer more than it protects others.

For that moment of weakness, I blame New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose tweet about reaching out hit me hard. (“Three-word sentences can make all the difference: ‘I miss you.’ ‘I love you.’”) Thankfully, my own governor isn’t so sappy. “Coffee and chocolate, that’s how I’m getting through a lot of this. I probably need to start exercising a little bit more,” Gov. Chris Sununu said during a recent news conference, taking the words right out of my mouth.

Coffee, chocolate and the surprising return of a friendship I thought I’d lost forever. I’ll get back to my kickboxing workouts eventually. But until then, this will do just fine.


Virus Diary, an occasional feature, showcases the coronavirus saga through the eyes of Associated Press journalists around the world. Follow AP New Hampshire correspondent Holly Ramer on Twitter at

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
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