The Days Before Tomorrow … Epilogue and Answers

“We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere.” – Unknown

“Though lovers be lost love shall not; And death shall have no dominion.” – Dylan Thomas

“Together forever, never apart. Maybe in distance, but never in heart.” – Unknown

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” – Charles R. Swindoll

You’ve read my tale, of first love, loss and so much more. She was the first girl I ever truly loved, and she has made so many fundamental changes to my outlook on life.

I’m writing this entry to answer a few questions that I never really answered well to myself. Questions like, why didn’t I leave with her all those years ago. Why didn’t I rejoin her when the chance came back. Why didn’t I fight for her legacy harder. I can’t answer really. But it was in those questions that I found that She taught me a lot in so many ways.

Never take love for granted. Never take the time you spend with the ones you love lightly. Be careful with what you might say to those you care for. Approach life with flair when you can, for fortune does favor the bold. And the one precious gift she gave me that I hold most dearly, how to savor the thunder and the lightning, in it’s purest form in the night skies.

In the here and now, I’m happy with my wife, and I love her dearly. But she notices the ghosts behind my eyes from time to time, and the profound sadness and wondering that envelops my heart and mind in this matter. There are other answers to those questions… answers that might make the ghosts fade. But as She is gone now 9 years, and with what you’ve read, I’ve never had my chance to properly mourn her. Those ghosts will always be there in one way or another. And in all honesty, I’ve lived with them for so long that I don’t know if I can ever conceive of a time without. But there’s hope now… for the first time in almost a decade, there’s hope.

Very soon, I’m going to be back in Vancouver, for the first time since the restraining order had expired. T is 21 now. G is 18. I have not been a part of their lives for over 9 years, 11 years or so if you add the time that I hadn’t seen them in person and had only sent gifts and calls of love and encouragement.

In all of these years, I have not had the chance to tell them about my memories of their beautiful mom, and how I have to keep quiet on how much I wanted to be their father. When they last saw me, they saw me from the eyes of children, and now they’re almost as old as she and I were when this tale became something twisted and strange.

Last Christmas, they found me. We spoke, and talked, as they did haltingly and rushed and confused and filled with millions of questions and with no answers to call from. It was quick, it wasn’t much, and we haven’t spoken much since. They were calling from their dad’s place, and in a few brief moments, years of walls came crashing down. Years of stories, and myths and questions of smoke and mirrors, all brought to a crashing halt in the discovery of a few letters. There’s probably a few shadows still in place, as there will always be some secrets of Her’s and mine that I will carry to my grave.

Once, long ago, I found my dear friend Karen E. once again through a friend of hers who found the newspaper ads I placed all over Cleveland. You can read that tale, Serendipity and Valentine’s Day, as it was the first entry of this blog. But, that would have never happened , if I hadn’t learned the value of being bold from my 1st love. And just as Serendipity and Fate had played with my life then, it seems that Fate has decided to intervene again.

Not long ago, G found the notes I wrote her mom in high school. G was graduating, and she went through her mom’s storage to wear something to keep close to her heart. She found my ring, my Loyola High class ring, attached to a selection of notes I wrote.

G told me how much both her and her brother had missed me, but were too young to understand why I left them so cruelly after their mom died. I don’t know the full extent of the stories told about me, but I’m getting the impression they weren’t flattering. But more importantly, she shared to T my many letters of love, and they both understand how it was supposed to be, but not how the reality came to be. It’s in writing this, this story of love and anger, obsession, passion and hatred, of deep loss and sorrow, and most importantly through it all, how I loved her as she did me despite it all.

To T & G, as you read this all, I truly hope you understand the choices and the decisions that has come to this moment. I’ve written this all, maybe to help exorcise some ghosts from my mind, to remind me of your mom, or even as an exercise in ego perhaps, but really, I’ve actually written this for you two. I never wanted to leave you. You were supposed to be my children, born of two who were as entwined and fundamental as lightning and thunder. Don’t be upset with your dad or your grandparents, as they were only trying to protect you both and I hold no grudge. But remember, I have always loved you both as if you were my own.

In June, I will be paddling with the Red Eyes Paddling Club in Vancouver. I will spend 2 1/2 days there in my chosen athletic passion with a group of people who I care deeply for as both friends and family.

But on that first night back to Vancouver, the first … tomorrow after so many lost and wasted days, I won’t be with them. T & G will be waiting for me at the airport for answers.

And I will be there.

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Writer’s Note 12/2013: I wrote these words in April 2013, an emotional time to say the least, with no small amount of tears between myself, Terry and Georgia when we finally reunited in June 2013. It’s an ongoing saga now under “The New Frontiers”, and I invite you all to continue on my exploration with my new family. On Christmas 2013, I will be writing a special update, of events that change everything once more.

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 1 – An Introduction

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 2 – Shattered

The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 3 – Betrayal and Hurts

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind

The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

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Serendipity and Valentine’s Day

Serendipity means a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it.”

“Jonathan Trager, prominent television producer for ESPN, died last night from complications of losing his soul mate and his fiancee. He was 35 years old. Soft-spoken and obsessive, Trager never looked the part of a hopeless romantic. But, in the final days of his life, he revealed an unknown side of his psyche. This hidden quasi-Jungian persona surfaced during the Agatha Christie-like pursuit of his long reputed soul mate, a woman whom he only spent a few precious hours with. Sadly, the protracted search ended late Saturday night in complete and utter failure. Yet even in certain defeat, the courageous Trager secretly clung to the belief that life is not merely a series of meaningless accidents or coincidences. Uh-uh. But rather, its a tapestry of events that culminate in an exquisite, sublime plan. Asked about the loss of his dear friend, Dean Kansky, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and executive editor of the New York Times, described Jonathan as a changed man in the last days of his life. “Things were clearer for him,” Kansky noted. Ultimately Jonathan concluded that if we are to live life in harmony with the universe, we must all possess a powerful faith in what the ancients used to call “fatum”, what we currently refer to as destiny.” – Dean in Serendipity

“You don’t just have the most incredible night of your life with a perfect stranger and leave it up to chance, do you??” – Jonathan in Serendipity.

It’s 12:25 friday, the night after Valentine’s.  One of my favorite movies, Serendipity, is on.  And with that, thoughts bring me back to Karen.

I’ve met a number of women over the years, each one having a certain je ne sais quoi that brought me to their door.  But of all of them, only one of them ever made me believe in fate.  Dear sweet giggling Karen, the nurse from Cleveland, who with her vivacious friend Kerry, combined with our sense of humour and a fair amount of alcoholic Hurricanes, made our poor haunted tour guide’s evening a misery, as we wandered through the streets of N’awlines’ French Quarter.

The chemistry then was just instant, and magical, and the alcohol had made me drop pretty much instantly all inhbitions. What could I say, I was naturally attracted to her from the start.    Kerry picked up on that right away, and I think Karen had felt a bit of the same, as we went to Pat ‘O Brian’s to enjoy the duelling pianos.  Kerry whispered to me, “go dance with her.”  I was a little shocked… but feeling so much like the shy schoolboy in front of a girl, I let the liquid courage flow and push me to take Karen’s hand and slow dance with her to the music of the duelling pianos.  It was … nice, but all too short.  As the tune played, all seemed right for those brief moments, and I wondered if I had met someone special.  And with the last dying note, the dance was over, and the schoolboy returned.

Later that night, I was escorting the girls to their hotel.  They were going to leave the following day on a cruise ship, and I asked for Karen’s email.  She gave it, and I gave mine, but tipsy as I was, I soon forgot it and awoke the next day kicking myself for my stupidity.  I thought that was the end of it…

The following year, just before Valentine’s or so, I caught the movie Serendipity.  It was an interesting film, where a series of fateful events brought a couple together, then apart, then together again years later.  And as I watched, I suddenly saw myself where John Cusack was.  It was absolutely mesmerizing, and I found myself wondering if Karen and I were the same.  Valentine’s was approaching, and what better time than then to take a total stab in the dark.  I called a few newspapers in Cleveland, the only thing I really remembered about Karen, and put an ad in EVERY ONE (all 4 or 5 at the time)  of them asking, “Nurse K, we met at the Fatted Calf, email me at…”  Some of the editors thought it was utterly romantic that I would go to these lengths.  I thought.. this would be my one shot, come what may.  At least I could say I tried…. and failed.  No responce.  Zip.  Zero.  But it was a wild shot in the dark, and I knew the odds were beyond outstanding.  I accepted it, and went back to life wondering from time to time of what could have been.

That should have been the end of it.  The years went by, and thoughts of Karen faded with each passing day.  New friends, new cities and adventures, and new loves soon took over my thoughts.  And then came Serendipity again…

It was 2004, 5 years after that magical night in New Orleans, and I was watching a repeat of Serendipity on the tube.  Over the years, it had become one of my favorite movies as the themes of love, destiny and fate all played itself before my eyes and strangely appealed to the chivalrous knight in me.  I was running it in the background when I had gotten that fateful email.  It was from a Karen… and I was wondering who could this be…

It was not just this Karen.. it was from THE Karen.  By a miracle of fate, a friend of hers was cleaning out her closet, and came across the newspaper with the ad.   I’m not quite sure what called her to notice a small classified ad from 5 years back, and what made her put 2 and 2 together and realize that it was meant for Karen, but it did… and it led to Karen and I calling one another 5 years later.

I won’t go any further of the events that followed.  The date in Florida together.  The calls and the emails.  The regular shipments of Bernard Callebaut chocolate to Cleveland.  All that and more, but in the end, it was a valiant effort and a meeting of the minds when time and space seemed to coincide between 2 people.  But needless to say for those of you who know me, you know I’m not with her.

But this was a time I took that leap of faith, and with that, found a lifelong friend who has found happiness with her husband and child.  Karen and I are friends now, and good ones I like to believe.

There’s been other events that were fate like, but everything that took place with Karen was the one time where the universe seemed to genuinely take a hand in my life and hers.  It was magic, and this week of all weeks, I look upon it fondly and with wonder and quiet contentment.