Never let go…

Dad let go of her hand but she never let go of dad's hand.

Dad let go of her hand but she never let go of dad’s hand.

 

Humans of New York (http://www.humansofnewyork.com) posted this photo with the caption “Dad let go of her hand, but she never let go of Dad’s hand.”

My earliest and perhaps most innocently poignant memory is of having to let go of my dad’s hand. I guess myself at around three. My mother and father were viciously arguing. My sister and I were hiding on the stairway. My heart was racing; scared of the fighting and petrified I’d get caught for sitting on those steps listening to all the loud yelling I didn’t understand and be punished for my curiosity. Two policemen showed up. They appeared larger than life and what frightened me most was the billy club each had dangling from their belt. Menacing, baseball bat looking clubs as big as my leg, which I knew were there to be used. In my confusion for sitting on the stairway…or maybe it was the automatic assumption I’d carry with me for the rest of my life that as usual, I’D done something wrong …whatever it was, somehow I knew instantly that billy club was to beat me with. The minute I saw it, I ran as fast as my legs could fumble themselves up those stairs in my panic, too scared now to even worry about being quiet!

I ran straight to the top of the stairs and turned into the first door on the left, my parent’s bedroom. My bedroom was straight ahead and the same distance to run, but somehow I felt sure that billyclub would come looking for me in MY room. So, I thought I was quite clever to hide in my parent’s room where they at least wouldn’t come first looking for me, maybe buying myself a few precious seconds before the beating.

The yelling downstairs had ceased. I could still hear talking; the policemen and my parents’ voices, but no more yelling. I wanted so much to hear what they were saying…to know what I had done this time…and get a clue as to how bad the billyclub beating might be….ohhhhh, how I wanted to know! Sheer terror kept me hiding behind the leather rocking chair in the corner of my parents’ bedroom, though. I didn’t DARE peek out and be nosy with the billyclub man there, no matter how overwhelming my curiosity was!

My sister had gone under their bed. I stayed behind the chair for what felt like my last eternal moments before my inevitable death, making myself as small as I could to hide completely and occasionally putting my head sideways against the floor to peek under it and see my sister under the bed.

That lasted forever and I must be missing some time in there because the next thing I recall is my mother standing in front of my dad by the big wooden front door downstairs. My mother facing my dad directly, his face looked sad and hurt, not angry and mean like my mother’s and I knew something was horribly awfully wrong. My dad smiled and laughed perpetually. I’d never seen this look on his face ever.   Not once on my entire three years! My mother held mine and my sister’s hands on either side of her, facing him and saying to us, who do you want to go with? This was a hard question. I didn’t want to hurt either of my parents’ feelings and I didn’t know what the right answer was. I love my mommy so much and I love my daddy too! And forever without one of them seemed an impossible choice. At that moment, I really believed this was the most final and permanent decision I’d ever have to make in my lifetime. My sister immediately piped up with, I’m going with you, Mommy.  She either knew the right answer because she was an older, wiser five years old or it simply wasn’t the dilemma for her that it was for me? I didn’t know. I was looking at my dad’s face right that moment, still that sad look that was hauntingly unknown to me and I knew I couldn’t leave my daddy alone no matter what. My sister had already picked mother. I couldn’t leave my daddy alone with that expression on his face and I could feel the hot anger seething off my mother, while my dad felt quietly just hurt and defeated maybe…somehow seeming much safer than the alternative. I stepped over to my obviously wounded gigantic daddy and said, I’ll stay with you, Daddy.

It was decided. My sister left with our raging, seething mother and I stayed with our wounded, broken hearted Daddy, just knowing I could love on him enough with hugs and kisses to chase that sad look away and bring back his usual jolly smile. Strange that the few seconds it took me to make that choice feeling afraid because I believed it would be forever and I’d answer wrong, was immediately replaced with as much confidence as any three-year-old could have after answering such a question. I knew I belonged with my daddy. I loved and adored my mommy like crazy as any child does, but I knew the minute I took those few steps over to stand by my daddy’s side, that that was exactly where I belonged in this world, even if it DID mean I’d never see my beloved mother’s face again. I felt sad, but I was no longer afraid that I’d answered the question wrong. Yes, I belonged with Daddy; my happy, laughing, loving daddy with the smile that lifted my heart high in the air full of joy every day.

I didn’t understand this was only for the night…or a few days…or whatever it ended up being. I can’t recall. The last thing I remember is feeling that odd confidence that I’d made the right choice and knowing I would be safe forever right next to my daddy, holding tight to his great big warm hand.

But it wasn’t forever. Not too long after this painful choice…a night…two or three days…my mother returned and took me with her and my sister. And, my daddy had to let go of my hand. I never let go of his though. Over the next 14 years, I held onto my daddy’s hand once in a while in person when I was allowed to see him, but every day and night I held onto his hand in my prayers, in my dreams, in my thoughts when I was scared, and in my heart when I felt unloved and unwanted or confused and beaten. And I continued to hold it the 27 years following that as I trudged my way through life, love, rape, abuse, and many scary choices.

Forty-one years later from the day I made that first great big life choice to hold my dad’s hand, I’m still holding that big warm hand in my mind and my heart. My daddy is gone. He let go of my hand again to go to heaven but I haven’t let go of Daddy’s hand.

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Bittersweet

bittersweet

Forcing myself to write…even if it’s not good writing. My hope is that by forcing myself to do it without ant concern or worry of the quality, the tone, the content, or the value, then I might slowly regain my voice again. I need my voice. I need my voice even if no one ever reads my words. I need my voice even if no one believes me. I hope to someday think and feel eloquently again and write that, but until then, forced it is.

Living in my daddy’s big old house is an experience that fully defines the adjective, bittersweet. I head into the kitchen where my dad spent the majority of his time in the 24 years he lived in this house… I head in there to make something for lunch. It is, like me, a contradiction and maybe that’s precisely why I’m so comfortable within that very discomfort? However, this goes far beyond a mere contradiction straight to bittersweet…all contradictions at one time – a simultaneous infusion of emotions, memories, thoughts, words, expressions, situations, and people…pushing right up against each other, smacking each other around the edges of what defines them.

I head into his kitchen… and standing in there as I think of what I might want to whip up for lunch, the urge to be given one more chance to cook for him stings. It stings like 5,000 wasps have landed on my heart and my gut…and they’re angry. They sting all at once and so viciously that my eyes water, screaming for that moment of relief tears would bring. I usually fight them though, almost as though I don’t deserve to cry; as though I don’t deserve that millisecond of relief when the tears finally roll. And I want so badly to just call out through the house into the living room where my daddy is watching golf, some old western movie, or maybe a country music video, Hey Daddy? Can I make you some lunch?  I want to so badly because I think of the million times I could have hollered that out…and didn’t. And from there, I think of the 200 zillion delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that man made me over my lifetime. I think of my favorites. I think of him asking me what I would like to eat as though I were in a restaurant and anything could be whipped up at my desire. I think of later years as an adult how every single visit to daddy’s house was greeted with, Hey baaaaaby (that BIG SMILE lighting up his whole face)! There’s some beef stew/spaghetti/steak/biscuits and gravy/ Hamburger Helper/tuna salad/prime rib/barbecue ribs/potato salad (enter any number of delicious Southern dishes in here). Are you hungry?

I need to DO something FOR HIM….do something without asking anything first or in return or anytime within the next week or month or best yet, year, from him. I’m hit with the undeniable, painfully fervent need to do for him…take care of him…serve him… you see, this was who he was. He did this all my life for me and then when I had two children, he simply added two more people to serve up his kindness and generosity, his time and undivided attention, his compassion, his wisdom…all things that he could serve us laced with his love. And my daddy had a great big love for us. In fact, great big doesn’t really even begin to describe it. This man – this old-fashioned, hardworking, traditional values, classic southern man would serve us like a slave maid. And always did so with a BIG smile and happy heart, with never a single complaint or a whine or a tiny hint of much-deserved martyrdom guilting techniques or sighs. No. He served us like princesses and was unbelievably joyful to be doing it. Nothing was too much for him to do for us. Absolutely nothing.

 

(Side note: a great irony to this massive, unlimited, willingness to give and serve we three girls he loved so great big are the hundreds of stories my mother told me growing up about my dad. There were countless ugly stories where he was some kind of chauvinist pig demanding maid, cook, and personal service while selfishly not contributing whatsoever. Actually, worse even than simply not contributing, the stories were more along the lines of, “Your dad didn’t care one bit if we had food in the house or if we all starved to death. There were so many times I didn’t know how I would feed you two kids. Your dad would go on binges for weeks at a time when I didn’t know where he was or when he was coming back or when we would eat again.”)

So, as I step in that kitchen where the majority of 24 years’ worth of memories were made, I desperately want to serve him even just for one split second…serve him as unselfishly, joyously, and eagerly as he did me and my two children. I want to show him how happy I would be to do for him even if it’s just bringing him a cup of coffee.   I’m learning so much about my flaws, my weaknesses, my shortcomings throughout the nightmare of the past two years. In my daddy’s kitchen, I realize the bottomless depth of my fears…and I grasp the fullness of my excuses. I may not be one for blame so much, but I’m certainly the queen of excuses: legitimate excuses, ridiculous excuses, emotional excuses, any number of those pesky little stupid explanations for why.

Why… is always such a painful question.  Ouch!
You see, I realize so much now that although I am by nature as giving and loving as my daddy (thank you for that characteristic by the way, Daddy!), I’m the laziest perfectionist you could ever know. Therefore, in spite of my eagerness to do for others – and particularly my beloved daddy – I would rather do nothing than do something in return that could never come close to measuring up to the gift I’ve received. And it always seemed anything I could have done for my daddy would be akin to putting a drop of water back in the ocean after taking enough out to fill 500 Olympic sized swimming pools. If I can’t return a favor equally or better yet, in spades more than I have been given, then I typically don’t do anything at all. Pretty flawed logic, huh? And the bottom line truth of me is that I never had any remote degree of physical, mental, emotional, or financial abundance to ever come even close to matching what my daddy gave and did for me and my children all my life. So, I typically did very little in return other than chronically express my hopes and prayers that “someday” I would be able to do something great big and wonderful in return. I mean, I expressed gratitude and gratefulness, love and appreciation daily, I honored birthdays and Fathers’ days in every way I was able albeit usually smaller ways than I’d have liked and constantly professed my love for him, and I did most everything he ever asked of me which was very rare and usually minor. And meanwhile, out of my desire to match up to his giving magnitude, I did practically nothing of those little daily graceful kindnesses in return. Never realizing how much those little drops in the ocean could have been accumulating over the years…before time ran out.
Standing in my daddy’s kitchen deciding what to make for lunch, the sheer volume of his grace and blessings on me over my 44 years wash over me like a fresh splash of a gigantic salty ocean wave. I am humbled to my knees by it. And as it washes over me, it stings a million tiny cuts in my skin of all the lost opportunities I didn’t get to do for him and burns with the dreaded realization that death makes those little and big opportunities gone forever.

Complete culpability

Thank you for loving me, Daddy.

Thank you for loving me, Daddy.

It’s pity party time. I’ve officially spent my second birthday and the second anniversary of my dad’s death alone. Without one single phone call on either day…not a “checking in to see how you are”, not a “hey, I’m thinkin of you”…not a single friend or family member thought of me on the two most significant days of my life: my birth and the day I lost the only love I was ever going to know.

After 44 years of life, millions of friends, several boyfriends, one husband, and two children of my own, I now realize what I feared most from my earliest days is literally true. My mother, my sister and all those other people over 44 years couldn’t ALL be wrong about me; I’m not someone who can be loved. I’m just not…
I suppose I could write of how it’s my mother’s fault. How being raised by a narcissistic sociopathic woman damaged me so cruelly, left me with huge holes in my soul that can’t be filled, making me so desperate and needy for the one thing that scared me most, love. I found it crazy ironic to discover at 26 that I have a flap in my heart which doesn’t close properly. What a perfect description of me…it was almost an explanation at last for what I am that I can’t seem to help or change. The pieces of me that are so just wrong that they’ll never be right finally made literal, physical sense when the doctors told me that back when I was pregnant with Savannah Grace.

I suppose I could write how it’s other people’s fault, as well. How being so painfully insecure and desperately needy for love and approval for as long as I can remember being alive led me directly to the kinds of people who would manipulate and abuse that…furthering the unlovable clause I was born with. Seriously, WHO gets molested as a 6 year old by a teacher and a babysitter? And WHO is ridiculous enough to get raped *three* times in 44 years? And WHO is blessed enough to have had so many wonderful men profess the most beautiful depths of undying love and still ends up alone? What kind of idiot runs so fast and so often over a lifetime from the very thing she has been praying for since the tender age of 4? I certainly could never convince myself that it was all THEM…that there was something inadequate with every one of THEM. No, the common denominator there is me…and only me. I chased, pushed, argued, and crazied every one of them away from me, even the most tenacious of them. I could try to blame any one of a hundred girlfriends who shit on me, stabbed me in the back, devastated and used me…..but again, who’s the common denominator there? Me.

And what about my daddy? I was fortunate that my mother kicked me out with just a trash bag full of clothes at 16 for lying about smoking a cigarette. Thus, I spent the majority of my life, from 16 to 42, with a most amazing parent who demonstrated love, acceptance, kindness, honesty, integrity, and joy. So many children don’t have that kind of example or love in their life from ANY where growing up, at ANY age. Hell, I was fortunate that my daddy somehow always found the strength and ability to love me at all. Why didn’t that fix those fucking holes I was born and raised with? Not everyone who is unloved by her mother is blessed enough to be unconditionally loved by her father. If the cause of this unending and irreparable unlovability issue isn’t ME, at my very core, then that shower of my daddy’s true blessings would have repaired that. It should have, right?

Yes, it should have. It would have. If it wasn’t me, my fault, my issue, my fault, my inadequacy…mine, mine, MINE.

I’ve never felt good trying to blame any of this on other people anyway. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, I’ve just never been the person who could blame someone for anything at all really and feel confident it wasn’t really my fault. When the teacher molested me at 6, I even felt guilty when he got in trouble…even at that tender age; I felt it was me, my fault. After all, I had actually appreciated the special attention he had always given me, hadn’t I? I had looked forward to his smiles in the elementary school hallways that made his face beam whenever he saw me….it actually made me think of my daddy’s huge grin whenever I got to see HIM! And my favorite was the day he lifted me up to drink from the big drinking fountain. I had appreciated feeling special to a grown-up who saw me every day and still seemed to think I was someone special in this world. I would have never told on him intentionally. Not EVER! And I really didn’t want him to get in so much trouble either. Somehow, even way back then, at such a young and innocent age, I just knew it was my fault. Everything was my fault, so that had to be too. All three times I was raped, no matter how cruelly, I still felt deep down it was my fault…that I HAD gotten what I deserved. And I think I was always afraid to tell my mother because I knew she would be sure to bring that to my attention immediately and then all doubt of me “not deserving” to be raped would be totally eliminated. Hell, somehow I’ve been “asking for it” since the age of 6! I’m sure at 17 and older, I was REALLY asking for it. I just wanted to blame them because I never figured out HOW I “asked for it” and thus, couldn’t figure out how to stop “asking for it”. I only blamed them in my own mind out of frustration that I couldn’t fix what had always been wrong with me.

I’ve never minded taking the blame for things, actually I usually prefer it. After all, if it’s MY fault, then I can fix it. If it’s not, then I’m powerless to ever get it right. And yet, in spite of years of therapy, and so many wonderful years with a loving father, a zillion self-help books and strategies, I’ve never been successful at fixing it. And I still don’t feel satisfied trying to put the blame on other people for anything really… It’s been my life problem as long as I can remember; therefore, it’s still MY problem. My ex-husband even said to me once, “NO one in this world has such chronic shitty luck as you. The shit that happens to you regularly, just doesn’t happen to anyone…not even one of then usually, much less a lifetime of them!?” He was so right. I’ve always known that deep inside too. It’s me…it’s GOT to be. There is no other logical explanation. Hell, my mother abused the hell out of me physically, mentally, and verbally for 26 years and I was STILL desperate for her to love me. I’ve counseled so many children whose parents were fiercely abusive and still, they loved them and would do anything for their love. Me? I have two children who tossed me AND my love in the garbage without a second thought or one single look back to just wave good-bye….just threw me in the trash like the worthless garbage I’ve always been. And in spite of all my mistakes and failings as a mother and a human being, I gave those two children the very best of anything good I have ever had inside me to give, which was still apparently utterly worthless.

And since it seems to get worse the harder I’ve tried to repair whatever this is I was born with, what does that even really mean? If I own it all, I still can’t fix it; if I blame everyone else, I can’t fix it either.
I have so many of my daddy’s amazing qualities…deep down I think, where most can’t see them, but I have them dammit! So, why don’t they make me and my life even a fraction as valuable as my daddy was in this world to almost everyone who ever met him? Why can’t I fix what’s wrong with me?

Why?

I realized recently that I’ve never really been afraid to die… Well, as a mom I was because I felt my children deserved to know the love and nurturing of a mother…the love I never knew and started my desperate journey toward a life of failure lacking. Other than that, I never was afraid to die though. Obviously, my greatest fear is living. And figuring out why I’ve been forced to do something for 44 years that I’m just not able to do well. I’d rather not do something at all, than try for 44 years just to get worse and worse at the effort.

I did always hope that someday, before he passed or I did, I’d have the opportunity to deserve to matter in this world by giving back to my daddy somehow. I always told him, “someday Daddy, I’m going to get myself together and do something REALLY amazing for you to repay all you’ve ben and done for me over my life time”. It still wouldn’t have ever been enough, but I really always hoped I’d have that opportunity and ability someday. I didn’t. He is gone and I’m still fucking alive and every bit as unworthy, useless, and unlovable as the day I was born.

I’m sorry Daddy. I’m sorry I didn’t get it together in time to return your wonderfulness to you even a little bit. I’m really sorry. I know it made no difference to you whatsoever, but it really would have made the world of difference to me.

It seems so cruel. So much death all around me over the last two years since my daddy passed. All these beloved people and children dying and leaving behind heartbroken masses of hurting folks who loved and admired them. Yet, on and on and on I go…. 44 years of nothing but worthless efforts to somehow give the world what I always dreamed of. A life of nothing; worth nothing, for nothing, meaning nothing. No one notices or cares I’m alive and who can blame them? I don’t. So, why does God take the cherished ones and leave the insignificant failures to continue being a burden.

Yet, on I go…

Sunlight Returns

Daddy's home....

Daddy’s home….

Dear Daddy,

I always feel your general presence around me and I’m thankful for that. However, as this long winter has dragged on and on and on without one single sound of your voice and not once watching you come in the door in your big red coat, brisk from the winter air, I realized something today.

As the sun finally shone into the windows of your big old house, I could REALLY feel you today and sense you everywhere. I stopped for a minute looking at that sunlight streaking across the floor and felt your presence more than I have in months. (I’ve really missed you, by the way!)

You are always here, with me each moment… You were the only constant light I knew in my life. The passing lights like jobs, accomplishments, friends, boyfriends, husbands, and even children…were all just temporary flashes of brightness passing in my life, like car headlights lights on a highway. You…you were always shining. Always. And I was fortunate that you chose to shine your light on me every day and in every way possible for the duration of your entire existence here on this Earth. Big smiles, bigger laughs, kind words, hugs, gifts, help, love, wisdom, prayers, listening, friendship, or advice…you were always shining your light on me somehow in any way you possibly could think of. And just like one can’t possibly fully understand good without knowing bad or right without knowing wrong, I’m not sure one notices how very dark their world truly is, until a bright light which could always be seen somewhere scattering its bright particles over every darkness, has been fully extinguished. Your light always shined on me; from a distance growing up, it perpetually shined inside my heart through understanding and trusting in your unconditional love and up close, it beamed on me directly with warm, smiling rays of your brightness, kindness, inner joy, and love.

So, today when the first sunny day finally came through after this horribly long and bleak winter, as I looked at it and took a moment to be grateful for it, you came immediately to mind. And it felt like you walking through that door. For one split second even, I almost expected you, yourself, to come walking in the door from that light as though you had carried it into the house personally to shine on me in your death even as you did in your lifetime.

I love you Daddy. I miss you. I talk to you every day and I pray you can hear me now even just half as well as you did when you were here.

Velvet Validity

It felt like his innocence was gone. I saw that in him in glimpses before of his cruel apathy, but this time was different. And not just an age thing either, it was a sexual thing… I think any time you go back to someone you had before, it’s never the same. And it’s certainly never exactly the way you have formed the memories in your mind over the absent time. For me, it’s always a bit of a disappointment; it’s somehow just less than it was before…or maybe than it had been in your rose colored hindsight.

And yet, not exactly; not with him. No, my every moment with him, comical, serious, sexual, friendly is all blanketed with the velvet validity of everything I remember. All my time with him is though. He is my exception. My exception to every rule. I said to him, “I do want to be friends…and I get sad when I think we can’t be. I mean, I love you…I love you either way, you know?” He responded, “I know you do.” Yes, he does know.

I’m playing Rose Colored Glasses – the song that in my mind always defined my dad’s unconditional and enduring love for my mother. How strange that even as a child with no comprehension of my parents’ marriage or romantic love at all really, I always felt that song was my daddy’s song for my mother. Maybe it’s the conversation we had one day while riding in his red Bonneville with the pin striped velour seats I thought were so soft and pretty. I was maybe 10 or 11 and this song came on the radio and he turned it up and said in his deep joyously loud voice, “Oh baby, your daddy sure burned this one up!” I didn’t know what that meant, so I asked him what he meant by that and he laughed and said, “I used to play that one on the jukebox over and over and over again until people would tell me to knock it off!” Wise beyond my years even then about lost or unrequited love, Daddy didn’t even have to actually say the words, I knew he meant this happened during the worst of his heartbreak era after my mother left him.

I am undoubtedly my father’s daughter. My mother never suffered from silly nostalgic memories or wasted time wallowing in a broken heart from lost love. My sister surely doesn’t suffer that affliction either. Neither of them would ever be such ridiculously silly romantics. Just me. Just me…and my daddy. So maybe it’s my family legacy that I uphold with this unconditional and enduring love I have for D? Maybe this kind of everlasting depth of devotion just runs in my veins?

Perhaps the only love that could have forever kept me from accepting my love for D again is my daughter’s… Her beautiful heart was the only thing which gave me the strength to at least minimize the depth of emotion I have for this man and place it on that tiny back burner. …And as life’s cruel steel-fisted irony would have it, I now no longer have hers.

For the love of Pete, will my life ever cease to fully represent the sappiest of country songs? Having been born into a situation of unrequited maternal love, chronic loss, regular betrayal, a thick aura of unrequited love surrounds me as I live my silly old Lifetime Movie life. And I don’t fool myself anymore into believing my happy ending might come. I think this is just what my life was meant to be for some reason: a cautionary tale about love and loss – the kind where you cry at the end because your heart aches, not tears of joy that it all turned around and the heroine overcame at the end. Hell, maybe I’m not even the heroine? Maybe I’m just the sideline story going on in the background, as the good guy gets the girl and rides into the sunset hand in hand with the love of his life? Maybe my daddy was the star of the show and it ended bittersweet…or maybe it’s one of my daughters’ show? And the happy ending will come for her life?

Oh well, I just love him. And just as I feel some sense of resentment at that blasted stubborn truth I can’t seem to change no matter what I do(ugh!), I hear another song which perfectly identifies my daddy as well, Here For a Good Time.
Daddy enjoyed life to its fullest all the way to his very last second. He may have felt the acute sting of lost love just like I do, but he never let it stop him from laughing, loving, and living to the fullest for very long. He had hiccups from it and he kept right on going. Unlike him, I have full-on break downs.

So, in his honor, I’m not going to beat myself up today for loving this man the way I do. I’m just not. It isn’t going to change anything, so I may as well just embrace it. After all, the unconditional love of my daddy is gone now and my daughters don’t care either way anymore. And even brief moments with D give me the bittersweet glimpses of joy my daddy miraculously maintained with his rose-colored love for my mother till the very end of his life. Bittersweet was good enough for my daddy till his dying day, so it’s surely good enough for me to appreciate and not resent or fight.

After all, it really just is exactly what it is.

Washed in a forgotten moment

There was one night…it was pounding rain in fat bullets from the sky.  We ran quickly in the house, but still we were drenched!   Tiny Jake was soaking wet and shivering. Grabbing a towel, I wrapped him up snuggly and tight like an infant swaddled.  And you…. You….  I could see directly into your heart through the look in your eyes.  It was big and warm, vibrantly green  and had rays of hope shooting from it like a starburst.  So bright and full, it shimmered all the way through your eyes, dusting me with a mist of sparkling light as you watched me drying Jake.

I could have sworn at that moment that love was not merely an intangible emotion or some silly concept for romance novels and love songs, but solid and as truly touchable as a soft, furry, smiling puppy… shivering and wet from the driving rain. 

Maybe that is why I still ache for you every time it rains…

“…Ladybugs Katherine! Lots and lots of ladybugs!”

Lazing in the glorious sun in my back yard yesterday, chatting with girls and Mark about the big upcoming move, feeling mostly excited and thankfully, only mildly overwhelmed at the moment thinking of all that has to be done…all that’s to be left behind, and what’s to come…  Sweet ladybug lands on my thigh, just hanging out for a moment.  I try to recall what this means.  I have a vague recollection of some movie or some symbolic meaning of this ladybug in this moment.

 “Ladybug: Perhaps best known as an emblem of luck, the Ladybug is a love symbol too. Asian traditions hold to the belief that if caught and then released, the Ladybug will faithfully fly to your true love and whisper your name in his/her ear. Upon hearing the Ladybug’s message your true love will hurry his/her way to your side. Ancient farmers of the land have considered the Ladybug a good omen as she controls aphid populations. The number of spots on a Ladybug’s back is said to indicate the number of months to pass before the wish for love comes true.”

My ladybug flew off and then returned briefly to the same spot on my thigh.  She only hung out with me for a moment…long enough for me to curiously wonder.  Later I found the above explanation when I Googled animal symbolism.

Strange feelings stirred this weekend with Mark’s visit.  He shared some upsetting news with me and it turned my world around.  It was as if some ancient forgotten feelings were gently brushed. There seems to be a woman he has casually dated, who is claiming she is pregnant with his child.  Oh geesh…hello and welcome to the Jerry Springer Show!  What the heck is this?! I remained fairly calm at first but the feelings slowly snuck up on me as I pondered and tears threatened to spill.  I was hurt. 

Only last Christmas I asked him if we could have another baby.  He was adamantly and decidedly against this. Mostly I was teasing him, but I was really hoping at the same time.  A part of me longs to know what a planned pregnancy feels like before I hang up my reproductive abilities forever.  I love our children and wouldn’t think to change a thing regarding them, but I have the saddest sense of never knowing the excitement that comes with learning I am pregnant, in spite of the fact that I have two fabulous children.  I only know the, “Oh my GOD! I’m pregnant..what the heck should/am I going to do?”  I don’t know the, “Yay…LOOK we’re having a baby!” feeling.  At one point, I was absolutely certain I would have this with Dave, but that’s not going to ever be and I resigned myself to the mercy of my children’s father hopefully granting me the third and first expectedly planned child.  Again, not to be…

And now this…a “stranger” having a child with MY children’s father?  A half-brother or sister right in the delicate era when I’m desperately trying to explain intelligent life-choices to my teen/pre-teen girls?  Immediately following my pleadings for a planned child? It’s upsetting to me in a very selfish way and in a not-so-selfish way in regards to my daughters and the family we have created in spite of the divorce.  Mark confessed strong hunches and disbelief that this really is his child.  I admit I share these hunches, but I can’t tell if this is wishful, desperate hope or actual intuition.  Really feels like intuition, as the circumstances surrounding this pregnancy as relayed by Mark, are clouded in a dark suspicion.  Apparently he had “the” conversation with this woman and even prior to their intimate relations which resolutely explained his unwillingness and total lack of desire for any more children.  I certainly am no hypocrite and fully understand taking chances and what happens sometimes, as I have one unplanned child with this man and another one who borders between the planned and unplanned – but purposely and knowingly (on both our parts) taking a BIG chance area.  However, something just feels different with this.  Mark and I never had this conversation he had with this woman, until last Christmas…years after our two children’s births.  And keeping these children was never a thought to Mark.  He would discuss no other options with either actually.

I did finally find my voice to say softly, “Dammit, I wanted us to have one more and I even begged you last Christmas!” I was a little comforted when he replied, “I know and it would be totally different if this was you.”

Something passionate and historically forgotten (but not lost?) for this man, this unbelievably fantastic father of my children, awoke with those words. Momentarily I forgot my sadness and the- what-will-this-do-to-our-children fears and it dawned on me that there IS one person on this planet with whom it is different for me in a good way.  A place on this earth where I have carte blanche and the huge margin of error I’ve never known and always hoped to have somewhere in my lifetime…or recognized might be the more appropriate word?  Hindsight tells me I always had it here, but never fully realized or comprehended. And as hurt and afraid and sad as I felt, it was temporarily overcome by love for this beautiful man, who after everything, does love me and does put me in a position of greater respect.  This man who, other than our two terrific children, has more reason than anyone to NOT put me in this position.  The same man who knows of so many of my faults, mistakes and truly ugly characteristics…still chooses to give ME this place, this status, this beautiful acceptance and WIDE berth of error. 

I flash back to the deciding moments I’ve had with Mark.  The tearfully spoken “Ummmm…guess what?” moments in which this man responded with every support and every ounce of respect any one could offer a woman in such frightening times.  He never once veered in his choices to want and to love our children, unexpected, unplanned, whatever….  Never once.  I did.  I was confused and scared and undecided..reflecting on ALL our options.  While he, he was stout and strong and beautifully decided.  And my selfish, spoiled self rears its ugly head now to scream at this other woman, “Na na na na boo boo…I’M the mamma dammit…I’m the wanted Mamma.  He was never willing to discuss adoption or abortion with me!”  It never even occurred to me that Mark had any other responses to, Guess what?  I’m pregnant than full and total support and strength.  Seems he does.  Although in my defense, I was not a grown woman with a professional career who engaged in the I DO NOT want any children discussion with him just prior to our pregnancies.  Seems as though our accidents were more in the area of mutual accidents and never came across as even possibly planned or pre-meditated, as this situation screams.

I have not always acted honorably in our various life challenges as people or as parents with Mark.  In fact, there are many occasions when I have acted horribly and been just mean and hateful.  I can blame some of these on circumstances, innocence, and youthful self-righteousness and I have had cause to regret them anyway, but they will now always be sources of shame for me after this one little sentence he spoke like a gift from God.  Have I really given Dave K.  every chance, every forgiveness, every excuse for a million horrible and hateful beyond explanation behaviors and actions against me while being selfish and stingy with these in regards to my children’s father, who has repeatedly and thoroughly proven himself as far more deserving of forgiveness and acceptance than this, or any, other man?  Am I this blind?

I was.  I must have been.  Was the intoxicating joy and perfection I felt with Dave and never once prior so much that it knocked me senseless and blind to see the beauty of Mark’s love and respect for me?  I’ve always been admitting and openly praising of Mark as a man who worked hard to change his early shortcomings and surprisingly became the greatest father I could have ever hoped for my children.  I have almost always been open to seeing this and believing in it from the actions-speak-louder-than-words faith, but I just never really “got it” fully.  Am I part of the reason he succeeded so well in this?

I never would have guessed or presumed this.  EVER!   And it smacked me so beautifully and lovingly that I was taken aback with a brand new love and gratitude for Mark, the most beautiful father, ex, and friend any woman could dream of.  I fell just a little bit back in love with him this weekend. Whoa…life sure is surprising in its sudden and totally unexpected twists and turns!  I can’t even imagine what this will or will not bring… or what it even means…