Child support wasn’t an issue, because it was never coming. Her soon-to-be former husband had never been good about making the rent, putting food on the table or keeping the lights on. He’d been her high school sweetheart and, when she became pregnant after their graduation in 1979, he had been eager to get married. She was his first and best love.
It was over now. As the young woman stepped toward the lectern and faced the judge, she straighten the loose dress fabric to hide her fullness. She had come to court that day, at her lawyer’s direction, cloaked by a winter coat and politely answered the judge’s questions. “No sir, yes sir,” she said, until he was satisfied. Her husband, the father of her daughter, sat quietly as the final order was signed. It was over within minutes. She would get her maiden name, the contents of her tiny apartment and little else.
For the next several years, she worked in a dental office, rang customers part-time at her father’s gas station and went back to college. She had always been the kind to go to work, double and triple shifts if need be, to provide for her family. By the time her son arrived in July 1986, she was fully on her own, living in a small two-bedroom apartment with bits of used furniture—including a sofa purchased at a salvage sale—and a will to do more.