Today is the birthday of one of the most important shapers of my life, a man who gave me a great gift of love, and also gave me some of the greatest emotional pain I have ever experienced.
He is an enigma to me, there are parts of him that I know soul deep, yet parts of him that have always been and will always be withheld from me.
Loving him, that was one of the hardest concepts regarding him that I have ever had to come to terms with. Because no matter the pain, the turmoil, the inner rage--oh the intensity of that rage, the self-hate, the blinding tears, the terror, the hate...there was also always underlying it all......love.
There have only been a very few times in our lives when we both allowed our defensive walls against the other to come down, and those few times, I felt his love emanating from him to me, into me, his way of holding me in the arms of his unconditional love.
He loved me, loves me, he is so very proud of me, of who I am, I know this, I know this deep in my heart. He also knows I love him. But.
I have never ever told him of my years of rage, never ever told him of my years of heart-clutching terror, never ever told him of the repetitive nightmares I suffered for almost 3 years. Never ever told him that I could, maybe, forgive him, or that I had forgiven myself. I wrote it all out in a letter to him almost 13 years ago, it was a letter that had to be written, the paper I wrote the letter on was soaked with my tears by the time I finished writing and rereading it so very many times.
Then one day not long after I had written it, I set fire to it, watched it slowly turn golden brown from the intense heat, watched the edges curl, watched it slowly, oh so slowly begin to flame, watched as it became white ash. On that day, for the first time in 27 years I felt a lightness in my spirit that I did not know existed. Oh, I had felt other spirit sparklings before, the birth of my children being the most intense of those. But that heaviness in my soul, that had weighed me down, that had been so heavy at times that I felt sure the very fabric of my soul hung in rips and tears, was gone, healing was beginning.
I ache for the old man he has become, I worry, I ponder his lost dreams, for they are lost, never to be awakened again. I think in some way he too is healed from the many demons that darken his past. He spends his days now very quietly, although in a home filled with chaos. To see him smile is rare, but when he does I know that small brief smile is brimming with happiness, it is just his way. He does not know how to show affection through touch, it is something I feel is inborn in him, a very part of his DNA, as his grandson is very like him in that regard. But to those of us who know him, we can accept that part of him.
There have been times in my life when something dreadful has happened to him, and I would think, "this is the payment for the sins he visited upon me and the others that love him". But with the passage of time, and my own healing, I can see that life does not work that way, if he feels that any atonement must be made, I think he is doing it now, in a way that is very sad, even heartbreaking, but his way.
The words, "I forgive you", will never be spoken aloud, except, perhaps, if I am there upon his death bed, if I am not there then the words will be spoken aloud for the very first time when I stand over his grave, when I wish him goodbye, when I wish for him/for his soul a finding of true serenity for the very first time in this living of it. But a part of me even as I write this believes that the words will never be spoken aloud.
Once many years ago, I think in his own way he tried, and even started to succeed in asking our forgiveness, he began to write his memoirs, he made it through his childhood and young adult years, but he faltered, then stopped. Why? I think he came to the realization that some in his life were not ready to see the truth, his truth. I do not know if he will ever complete them, or if he has. I somehow doubt it, he has hidden that part of himself away from us. In doing that I believe he feels he is protecting the woman he has spent the majority of his life with, because he cannot not bear to see her relive her pain, his pain, our pain in black and white. He protects her, even though she is a strong woman, so very strong, but underneath her steel shell is a fragile pearl, that can be crushed too easily with the reality of another.
So on this day, I know that I have to soon pick up the phone and wish him happy day, our conversation will be very brief, he will ask me how I am, how my children are, I will ask how he spent the day, if he had any special wishes for the day. I will inquire of his health. We will speak of the weekend's sporting events. I will tell him I love him, he will tell me he loves me, and as I place the receiver back on its bed, I will see him in my minds eyes, I will think of him with love and sadness, tinged a tiny bit with the woeful tears of a little girl who did not understand, tinged with the self-loathing of a teenage girl, with the deep soul-burning melancholy of a young woman, tinged with the uncompromising rage of a young mother-woman, and tinged most deeply with the mournful love of a maturing woman.
Because I love him.