TEN YEARS LATER

Manuel and PattyToday is the tenth anniversary since my sweet husband’s death.

I wrote him a letter from my heart to his:

My Sweet, Sweet Manuel,

Each morning I awaken to the beautiful sight of the sun shining through the stained glass piece in my room of you and me two weeks before our wedding. It brings me comfort and a smile to my face. I can still smell the essence of you, feel the tender touch of your soft hands, and hear the sweet and funny words in my ear. It is not at all what I imagined it would be like at this point of the journey. The beautiful spirit of ‘My Manuel’ lives on for me. You encourage me, light my way in the dark, and remain by my side.

These past ten years I have been relearning how to walk, talk, and see in a world without you. In the genesis of this unwanted journey, I felt as though our beautiful, intricate tapestry of our lives that we had lovingly sewn over thirty years, one fine stitch at a time, had thoroughly unraveled leaving me cold and alone. Today I see that the fragments of our story remain intact. Tapestries are made with two threads, the weft and the waft. It is made sturdy enough to endure any manner of tragedy it is presented with. The miracle is that the fabric does not deteriorate or fall apart at the seams. No. It goes through a process of metamorphoses.  Not unlike the butterfly, our masterpiece is hidden in a cocoon for a time to merge the past with the present. We are all still a family, the five of us. That will never change. What is so clear to me today is that the bond that fuses me to Max and Crystal has been fortified, I see a future for us, we have new goals and aspirations. Thank you for choosing “us”.

GROWING UP HURTS

My early life was a confusing and chaotic time that consisted of lost and broken parents, overwhelmed and depressed grandparents, and my sweet older sister (by fifteen months).  We lived with family members, nuns at our boarding school, and  summers with our father.  My dream was to finally be old enough to break my shackles that cemented my soul to our tormentors.  That would be when I was grown up, I thought.  The truth is that my life continued to be enmeshed with theirs even after I was married and living my new life, still emotionally and financially dependent on those that had been the source of my pain.

I adopted my adorable baby boy, had a beautiful baby girl, and then my amazing surprise, another sweet baby boy.  I thought I was an adult, working as a nurse, maintaining my marriage, cleaning our house, cooking daily and caring for my precious children.   Age does not qualify you to be considered a grown woman, nor do the experiences in your past.  There came a time that my depression became more than I could handle and my husband’s drinking had been out of control.  That is how we found ourselves in counseling, learning how to become successful in our marriage, how to parent since we had not had the opportunity of having good role models, and how each of us could become whole to be the best version of ourselves.

My mind had locked away many secrets that were never to be told.  But, therapy has a way of allowing them to bubble up and slowly leak out, then release into the light.  Of all the people in my life, my father was my idol. He was on a pedestal so elevated that there was no other person that could reach his heights.  Couldn’t I just love him and leave everything else alone?  The answer was no.  I learned that men that molest and abuse their daughters do not just stop when they are grown.  The words of my counselor rang in my ears and exploded to my brain, then my heart.  How could I ever sever this relationship?  But, how could I ignore the fact that each time I would visit him, I was endangering my very own children, those beautiful little people who I spent each day loving and protecting.  Yes. No matter what, I was a mother first.

The day that I confronted my father, witnessed by my step-mother, I was an official adult.  He never denied it, even adding some never-before-heard stories about my other siblings.  My step-mother shouted at me to take it all back, that it was all lies. But, for whatever reason, my father just kept talking and telling her that they were not lies.  I got up to leave and he kissed me and said, “It’s all under the bridge.”  It was then that I realized that he did not truly love me.  So, if he didn’t love me, how could he love my children.

That was the last time that I saw my father, the last time my children saw their grandfather.  And I became a pariah to my biological family.  But that same day I became the best mother possible, and I was finally free from the people that had tried to keep me from growing up into this woman I have become.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All Grown Up.”