Friday, September 11, 2009

Death Of Dreams

This is my first post in over two months. I have been emotionally crippled by the events of this summer and have, until now, been unable to organize my thoughts in any coherent way. Even now, I am not too sure where this will go.

The death of my father, at the end of June, was sudden and unexpected, but he was eighty-six and lived a very full life. The tragedy of my father’s passing was not his death, but the perfidy of my brother. I suffered two losses on June 26th– my father and my brother. (At some time, when I have sorted out my feelings about the betrayal, I may elaborate).

The death of my former husband - the father of my children, the man to whom I was married to for 25 years, and my best friend – is another matter. Steven and I had a unique relationship. We never stopped loving each other, but we could never live together. It was enough that we could care deeply and know that we were there for each other. Steven could not handle the stress of the responsibilities that go along with a marriage and I could never handle the stress of worrying about his mental health. For my daughter, Catherine, Steven’s death was the turning point in her journey to maturity. Her fondest wish was that her father and I would overcome all obstacles, openly declare our love for each other and renew our marital relationship. In spite of our love for each other, that would never happen. His death was a great tragedy. I loved this man with all of my heart and soul. My heart used to leap when I saw him coming up the driveway and when we separated I did not think it was possible for a person to survive the pain. I felt that someone had taken a knife to my body and slashed it to bits.

How could I not die from the loss of blood?

I threw myself into casual sex, and then one marriage and then another. I needed affirmation that I was desirable, valued and worthy of a man’s love. Steven’s rejection of me thoroughly fucked me up. I knew he was having an affair – my children did not. It hurt me deeply when I read my daughter’s blog wherein she stated that she had kept the letters from Steven’s mistress because it “was part of my father’s life”, even knowing that it was a part of his life that he regretted. I spent over a month with my daughter, in Salmon Arm, going through her father’s things. To Catherine, everything was a sacred memory of her father – to me it was being slashed over and over again and Cathy didn’t even see the blood! Children must realize that their memories are only a small bit of reality.

I have wept and wept and wept for what might have been – for the loss of my dream. I have lost, forever, my dream, my one and only true love.

I am so thankful that we were able to get past the first messy years after our divorce and move into a relationship that was so special for both of us – a relationship that only he and I understood

I don’t know how long it will take me to come to grips with the fact the I will never see Steven again, that he is no longer there for me. I don’t know – it is so painful.

My daughters lost a father, and he is irreplaceable – but, I lost the father of my children, my best friend, my protector, my dreams.

Rest in Peace, my Love.


  1. Mother. I wrote about *agonizing* over keeping the letters. I wrote about agonizing of the conflict between my impulse - borne of loyalty to you - to shred and tear and burn the letters and photos, and the one to preserve these mysterious details of Dad's life, the parts of his life that I didn't understand and wish that I did. You KNOW that I saw the blood. We stood together in that room and cried. You DIDN'T see my tears every night when I woke and paced, and you didn't know how many of those tears were for you. I KNOW. I KNOW.

    But knowing doesn't mean that it becomes easy (or even desirable) for me to try to erase parts of Dad's memory just so that the blood rinses more easily.

    It's complicated. I ache over it.

  2. I am so sorry, I can't even imagine but I am so very sorry.

    "Children must realize that their memories are only a small bit of reality." That is something I've been learning in a crash course that started once I became a parent. It's confusing, it's enlightening, it's eye-opening, it's painful, and it's damn hard. Admitting, realizing, and discovering the lives parents lead outside of our existence can be more difficult than sorting out our own tangled web.

  3. Leaving a comment, though I have no words.

  4. I'm so sorry. Know that you're both right, and that's the most complicated, painful part of all.

  5. I'm so very sorry for your loss. I'm currently in the middle of a separation from my husband of nearly ten years, under very similar circumstances. So I understand a lot of what you're saying...

    With all due respect, I'd like to stand up for Catherine's right to remember her father as he really was. She, as a daughter, feels it necessary to accept his identity as a whole and try to understand even the pieces that marred the beauty of his puzzle. It's her right as a daughter.

    She is a grown woman, with children of her own, but I see you diminishing her loss, and that upsets me. No matter her age, she's a girl without a Daddy. Particularly with the added complication of his mental illness. My father is not the picture of mental health, and it creates a distance between us that kills me, because we are so very close- it's a door I cannot open, and one of very few doors I don't have a key to. She is a part of him, and he is a part of her, and so she's compelled to understand every part of him that she can, because it helps her to better understand herself.

    Again, my deepest sympathies for the loss of your best friend.

  6. I am truly sorry for your loss.

    This was hard to read. I can only imagine what it is like to live it.

  7. I am so sorry for your loss of your one true love. I cannot imagine the pain.

  8. "Children must realize that their memories are only a small bit of reality."

    Yes. YES.

    The good and the bad. That sort of statement takes me to a variety of memories myself - some valid, others probably not.

    I wish Peace for you.

  9. My most heartfelt sympathies to you. When my father died suddenly 16 years ago it was the first time I truely saw my parents as people, and not just as my parents. How they had a relationship that was seperate from me. That my mother grief was so different from mine. It is a hard lesson to learn at such a sad difficult time.

  10. dear verybadcat, Don't presume to judge me - you don't know me and you don't know my family. I was in no way trying to diminish Catherine's grief.

  11. I'm so sorry for your loss, as well as the loss your children have experienced.

    I think you're right though, your children have seen a different reality and perspective than you yourself would have. It's the way of life, isn't it? Three of us could go through an event at the same time, yet it would be a different perception from every one of us, wouldn't it?

  12. It seems clear to me that both of you have a partial vision of "reality." Maybe you could let go of the idea that yours is the the only one.

  13. I didn't mean at all to judge, just to say that your grief and/or your feelings about parts of him and his life don't/can't/shouldn't diminish her grief and feelings. Sorry to offend, it wasn't my intention. I am in no place to judge anyone for anything.

  14. Mom, please don't take verybadcat's (another Catherine/Cathy) comment as judgmental - she just knows well the intensity of my grief and my preoccupation with trying to figure out my father.

  15. I am so sorry.

    Thank you for writing this, I know it was hard.

  16. My grandparents had the same kind of special relationship, that you and your late ex husband had. So I understand only a small part of the pain you are going through because I watched my Grannie's heart break when my Poppy died, and continue to break while we went through his things. I just wanted you to know that you are not alone in your feelings other women have been in your shoes. My Grannie used to say (she passed away in 2007) that burying Ruel in the ground wasn't as tough as having to go through his things and see the life that should have been theirs. My thoughts are with you and your family during this tough time.

  17. There are no adequate words, but I am so sorry for your loss.

  18. Relationships are made only more complex with the end of a life. So many words left unsaid. So many questions unanswered. Learning to live with what was (and all of the unherent ambiguity) is one of life's most difficult challenges. I wish peace to you both and to the rest of your family.

  19. When my father died, I somehow ended up with a box of his love-letters to the woman he lived with after he left my mother. I have not read them yet because it hurts too much, but I will not discard them. He loved her, and he was a beautiful writer. I have so little of him left. But I understand my mother's feelings too. It's awful.

  20. My dad died when I was a teen and thousands of miles physically and emotionally from him.
    My mom today at 65 is still in agony over letting him be a human to me and lived in fear of sharing her hurts and stories in case it 'spoiled' the image I had of him. Which was more her than me...I KNEW what he had been like...just not all the details..her hurts as a human being, as a woman...and I hurt for her because it has been a struggle for her to share pains and her needs and wants all these years.

    The agony of history, of grief...

    I don't really know what else to say

  21. The man was your partner even if you two were divorced. Losing your partner is devistating. Both you and Catherine are handling this with more grace than I ever could. *HUGS*

  22. This is both beautiful & heartbreaking. I am so sorry for your loss.

  23. My heart aches for your loss. I was blessed enough to share a moment in time with all of you and I'll cherish that time always.

    Stephen was a lucky man to have you love him so.

    As I am a lucky woman to have you as my friend.

    I love you. And your daughter. I wish I could undo this loss for all of you.

  24. no words but thinking of you and am happy that you were able to get along after divorcing lord knows if I ever will

  25. I ache for you, and can only begin to imagine the hurt that you endure.

    Much love to you.

  26. I know how you feel, having been there at one time. It gets better with a lot of time. It's been 16 years since my ex died and I can still feel the pain of receiving that phone call. You will survive and it will be OK - later. Grieve for what you have lost. Be angry. Do what you have to do and don't apologize to anybody.

  27. My deepest sympathies to you, Her Bad Grandma.

    Along with the stripped-down, raw and aching accounting of all that has happened and how terrible this feels, this post and Catherine's commentary is extraordinary and compelling documentation of an intimate family event. This is a gift for those of us who value anyone's willingness to share the depths of their grief and utter humanity.

    I know I speak for many when I say to both you and Catherine thank you for having this willingness. There are teachings in here and we are grateful for this guidance.

  28. I loved your article title "Death of Dreams" because often time that is the result of a life taken away before we think its time. You had dreams for a future and the death took away those dreams. I too lost my husband, although we were together in marriage when he died suddenly, I too felt the loss of my future dreams. I was no longer going to grow old with the man I loved so much, I didn't know how to face my future, most of the time early on I wondered how could there be a future without him? My mother died a month prior, I saw the dreams of my Dad's fade away, they would never spend the winter as snow birds together any longer,he would now travel alone. So I'm writing to say I understand and feel your loss. Thanks for sharing.

  29. I am so sorry for your loss.
    You write with such honesty, thank you for sharing.
    Isn't blogs great, where you and Catherine can express your grief in your own words.

  30. dear verybadcat, Don't presume to judge me - you don't know me and you don't know my family. I was in no way trying to diminish Catherine's grief.

    I don't know you; I don't know your daughter. I only know what you write, and what she wrote in her post.

    I think you might want to re-read what you wrote. Your post does actually come across as diminishing your daughter's grief in comparison to yours. You wrote: "My daughters lost a father, and he is irreplaceable – but, I lost the father of my children, my best friend, my protector, my dreams."

    Can you see how that could sound like you are saying that your loss is greater than hers? Did she not lose her protector? Her dreams? Her childhood? All sorts of other things that her father was to her?

    I know you believe that you aren't putting your pain above hers, but you might want to think about it more, re-read what you wrote and see if it's possible, that maybe, you are.

  31. "Children must realize that their memories are only a small bit of reality."
    Must they?
    Perhaps, children must realize that their memories are only a small bit of their parents' reality.

  32. I feel compelled to comment after reading all of the comments...I have, myself, suffered much loss in life, including the loss of both of my parents in very different ways, one when I was a child, and one in my early adulthood. I can only imagine the pain of losing one's partner in life, whether the marriage or relationship is still strong or not. Grief and loss is so individual and so heart-wrenchingly unique to the person who is grieving and to the person one is grieving for. And what one feels or expresses during grief need not be judged or picked to pieces, nor compared or contrasted with the grief of another. I, myself, simply feel the need to offer words of comfort and sympathy to both Catherine and Her Bad Mother. I am so very sorry for your loss, and grateful, as I'm sure you both are, that you have each other to lean on as you move forward in life without the man you both loved, albeit in different ways.

  33. I meant to express my sympathies to Catherine, and to Bad Grandma. I was redundant in saying Catherine and Her Bad Mother, wasn't I? Anyway, I'm sure you knew what I meant... Peace to you both and wishes for gentler days ahead...

  34. Anon at 12:10,

    Mom will probably weigh in here whenever she gets online, but I can say on her behalf, I think, that she realized after the fact that the 'BUT' gave her statement the wrong tone - she said so in conversation, when we were chatting about the comments to this post.

    I do the posting for her, though, so she couldn't go in and change it, and I didn't want to presume.

  35. I've been an avid reader of Catherine's for a while now and I just want to say that I am so sorry for the loss of a man who meant so much to both of you. No matter the context, he was loved dearly and will be missed for all time by both of you. I pray you find peace and only the sweetest of dreams about your loved one.

  36. I am so, so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine the eleventyhundred ways my poor kids will be torn to bits when they see their mother's life laid out without a filter to protect them from it.

    I imagine it will be difficult.

    As for the whole 'perception, diminishing, ect' about grief?

    Grief fucks a person up, people. A loss like this can tear you to bits and pieces so hard and long you think you can't get through the next breath.

    I know people are trying to be protective but this is a HUGE loss for Bad Grandma and Bad Mother and honestly...I think it should be between THEM instead of turning these comments into any kind of fight or even disagreement over who is diminishing whose grief.

    Please don't make them defend themselves or their words or how they feel right now. This loss is still very new and making them do that it's just cruel, even if they are big girls who can take care of themselves they shouldn't have to deal with it on a post like this.

    My 2 cents.

    This was beautiful. I can see where Catherine gets her talent.


  37. I am sorry for your loss and for your pain.
    I hope things get better for you.

  38. You lost so much more than your best friend. I feel your pain and I'm so sorry.
    Signed an adult child of a woman who lost her marriage under similar circumstances but never lost her love for the father of her children.

  39. Still thinking of you and hoping you are finding ways to cope. It does get better. {{{hugs to you}}}

  40. How are you doing my dear?
    Your fans are still sending you well wishes, condolences and heaps of support. We care about you. Be well.
    "Many of us".
    You know who we are.
    Take and outstretched hand if you see one.

    What to do in the darkness

    Go Slowy
    Consent to it
    But don't wallow in it
    Know it as a place of germination
    And growth
    Remember the light
    Take an outstretched hand if you see one
    Exercise unused senses
    Find the path by walking it
    Practice trust
    Watch for the dawn

    I have often found this poem helpfu. It is by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre