I see now that June 24, 2009, was a day that changed forever the trajectory of my life, but it did not change me.
I woke up early that day, as I have always done during our summers at the beach. The boys and I were at our house on Sullivan's Island, where we had moved when the school year ended a few weeks earlier. My mornings there began with a sunrise cup of coffee in the hour before the boys woke. I savored that quiet time alone as the kitchen filled with light and I wrote in my journal. I jotted thoughts, rarely a narrative of events, and usually reflected on a passage of scripture. My devotions had become more urgent and searching in the six months since I discovered that my husband, Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, was having an affair with a woman in Argentina.
As I sat on a stool at the kitchen island writing, I knew Mark's flight from Buenos Aires was about to touch down. He had been out of the state (though the world didn't yet know how far he'd wandered) for several days. The media and his political opponents were asking pointed questions about where he was, but only a few reporters had called me. Being on Sullivan's—two hours away from the state capital, Columbia—was a blessing on that front. I'd found out only the day before that Mark was in South America. Within hours, the world would know, and the press would be hovering at the end of our driveway.
The truth was that Mark and I had been quietly separated and had not spoken for two weeks, at my request, with clear restrictions on contact with the Argentinean woman he had started an affair with a year earlier. If he and I were to have a chance at reconciliation, he agreed not to contact her or the boys and me while he sorted things out. Cut off this way, I hoped, Mark might understand what it would be like to lose his family in the form he'd always known it. I wanted Mark to ache for what he'd always said mattered most to him. I thought he got it. Before he left to "get his head right," as he'd explained it to the boys, he looked me straight in the eye and said, "I will not see her." That morning I knew he had broken that promise.