This time last year - a house overflowing. A house busting at the seams. There was a constant sound in the house. Noise, sounds of kids behind closed doors, televisions on non-stop. Yet it was good. It was all good.
This was what family is supposed to be. You are there for one another. In good times & bad. Like a marriage. At least, that is what my picture was. The reality was very different.
I have wrestled with myself for a long time as to how I could have achieved a different end result.
Of course, it was never for me to alter. Journals & emails recently reread have helped me see the picture how it really was.
I found Vic's scan reports following his 6 week radiation. I highlighted the pertinent words, such as spreading, worsening, growth ... When I look back, all I remember was how we were going to attack this now. That is what Vic wanted. His treatments were always his call. That I really did not understand that this was the beginning of the end ...
April 2009. We were returning from what would be Vic's last trip to London. At Heathrow airport, amidst the throngs of what were clearly terrorists being herded through passport control, Vic's Buffalo nickel bracelet broke. Beads everywhere. I picked them all up despite all the hideous feet & shoes. I had it repaired & Vic wore it up until he went to hospital in October.
I wore it every since. However, there have been two occasions that it broke. The latest being the other day. When I noticed it was gone, I had an odd reaction. I did not panic. Somehow I knew it would return. I checked drawers & all the usual places but nothing. Two days later, my neighbor knocks on the door, holding the buffalo nickel & bracelet, separated but still here! My instinct was right. It was not gone. Just out of sight. But safe.
Still, I had a strange feeling that maybe the time has come not to wear it, just keep it close & in sight. Just with me. Not, on me.
When I told DCC about the bracelet, he told me that according to Buddhist tradition, if a sacred bracelet is broken, it symbolizes karma fulfilled. Transitions. New beginnings.
Three times it broke. I kept saving it. I think maybe karma is being fulfilled.
I have been through several pivotal dates lately, culminating with this date, one year ago. I don't want to say anniversaries, although ours was a June date.
There is nothing "magical" about this year. Not yet, at least. It has taken hard work. Lots of acceptance, of reflection. Of stark realities.
Forgiveness is something I have a lot of trouble understanding. I ask everyone for their interpretation, how they do it, etc.
As I look back on the last year, losing Vic of course would be the #1 hurt & loss. Obviously. Clear winner. I continue to work on this but it begins to make sense.
In second place would have to be Shay. We always had a difficult relationship. From the beginning. Both ways. It always seemed that she raged at me for unresolved issues with Vic. Clearly, there was much she never liked about me & held onto it fiecely. I took many a piece of hate mail from her, going back prior to Vic & my marriage over which i would choke but ultimately recover, considering the source.
When we opened our home to her & the children last year, I was well coached by Vic that it was a huge mistake. She should stay with either of her brothers who live in Florida or her Mother. Her best friend did not want her & the kids staying because of disrupting her childrens' schedules.
Vic was fighting for his life, having chemo. I assured him I would be responsible for them being here & keep everything away from him.
In the end, when the British visas were finally issued after 3 long months in the processing, Vic didn't care what it took, he just wanted his home back. Our children did too. They had sacrificed their space & shared their summer with the understanding that this is what family does.
Shay, surprised to find herself pregnant with #5, also wanted her own life back as did her chidren. We all still wonder how she could possibly have been surprised after being pg 4 other times!!! oddly, Vic walked past her one day before she knew & asked me if she was knocked up again. I defended her saying she still had some of Stone's baby weight to lost when in fact, she was indeed up the spout again.
She's old enough (& experienced enough) to know that it's not the stork that brings the baby but the lark when the lights go out! Oh!
We all held it together very well despite all the stress. Shay & I laughed a lot, as we always did. It was also good to have someone else around who understood Vic differently. A glance across the room between us said it all. I liked having her around. I enjoyed her company. I can honestly say I loved her very much & when things were good, they were very good. I knew it was difficult for her & did everything I could to make her comfortable, cared for, loved.
I never forgot, however, that I was she was not my friend & I was not hers. I was her father's wife & mother of her other half siblings. That's who I was. I also never forgot that at any given moment, she could attack. Like a snake. A spitting cobra.
She had several moments there that it was hard to hold it in. Especially when I asked her husband Paul, why he kept calling me "scary grandma" and "mean grandma" nearly every time he walked past me with the baby in his arms. Something to do with the immature English schoolboy humor I believe, but I did not like it, appreciate it or want to hear it. Anymore.
He was a whole other kettle of very stinky fish. Vic's dislike & mistrust of Paul was all revealed by the end of the summer when he found himself unable to pay for his familys' return tickets to the UK. About 2 weeks before, he had assured Vic that all was fine & taken care of.
Bla, bla. All bullshit.
So Shay bit her tongue & so did I. We all got through the summer. She & the kids got their visas & returned to their new home in the armpit of the UK. We got our home back.
She came back when Vic died, missing him by only a few hours. She stayed for his cremation then returned with a suitcase of Vic's stuff. Just stuff. Clothes, t-shirts, just things. She had shared the whole summer with him. What greater gift?
Her final missile of hatred was launched less than a week after Vic's beautiful, touching, very fitting memorial service. My shock was palpable. She told Daniel & Kaelin that I had "tormented & manipulated her for the past 20 years." That they should watch themselves. Over a desk name-plate of Vic's that I gave to her sister, Angie. A piece of wood.
As of that moment, she was history to Kaelin & Daniel. It was what their Daddy had said about their sister. Her character. Impulsivity. Inability to control herself at times & the list went on. It was easy for them.
For me, it was much harder & it took much longer. Oh, I totally agree & was perversely grateful when she said she was done (with us). As the song says "it's over, it's over, I went through you, you went through me."
Vic had tried to warn me. He tried. I would not listen.
"One hundred years from now, the size of my bank account, my house ... will not matter. What will matter is that I made a difference in the life of a child".
As I tried to replay everything as to why she hated me so much, it suddenly occurred to me. I had always given her my very best. I was there for her when he own Father (let alone Mother) were not. My incredible, amazing friends gave her their very best during her sejour. We all showed her love & consideration & support. That's how people in the real world are. That's how people in my world are.
Guess what? Apparently it was just not good enough. Her email of bile contained something about Vic having done little for her (as an adult) & that there was a very strong sense of being owed ...
So how to forgive? I could not get around that. Then I realized. It was not for me to forgive her. She was being true to herself & her feelings. It was for me to forgive myself. I was beating myself up for having let her down in some way. Did I? Absolutely not.
Her children will always remember their time here & will come to their own conclusions if & when the time comes.
Ours was a relationship whose time had come. I have no regrets anymore. I have learned. Everything I did, I did with love & the best that I could. I did it because she was Vic's daughter.
So, for me the bracelet is indeed karmic & symbolic.
By this time last year, Stone had pounded his red, white & blue smash cake for his 1st birthday. I still have the pentas I bought when he fell in love with butterflies. The butterflies still love them.
I am glad that I can look at the flowers & not feel a stab of pain at the memory. Time to put closure on the hurt, even though it took a lot of time & effort & stepping outside of the normal paradigms of my thinking.
Vic is smiling because he was right & he likes to hear me saying it.
"YES, HONEY, YOU WERE RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT!!!!!!"
He really did know his daughter. I was just hopeful & naive.
It is still raining here in the land of the free, home of the brave. I love it.
It's a great day for Independence!