#MONDAYBLOGS – RANTS ON FAITH: WHAT WENT WRONG PT 4

So now you know the bits that knocked holes first in my trust in the church, and then in my sense of belief.  All faith really is in the end is a surety of belief combined with unbridled trust.  I disagreed with the Church in virtually all of the hot topics, couldn’t reconcile the comedy of errors that comprised the writing of the Bible, and found that the teachings spoon fed me through my life were at heart to me, violations to human rights and dignity… and that was just the start.

As the years went by, I honestly started to be truly embarrassed and ashamed to be Catholic. But I found that virtually any and all permutations and combinations of Christianity were no better as it was all founded on the same mistakes and philosophies that I was opposed to.  And as I thought about it, I realized that it really didn’t matter about the religion in question, as that while the rituals and names of the deity in question were different, they were all basically a variation of the same belief whether it be God, Allah, Yahweh, Kali, Zeus, Odin or even the Man in the Sky. Religion then and there ceased to mean anything to me.

What was I exactly? I ceased to believe in any spiritual being, and even found myself quite outraged to have ever been part of that mindset. Back in high school, a fellow classmate, Dave M, had described himself as a secular humanist and not a catholic. Those words echoed back to me in those days of revelation, and I decided to check deeper into this. And it was in that definition, I finally found a truth that rang true.

“[Secular Humanism] posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or a god. It does not, however, assume that humans are either inherently evil or innately good, nor does it present humans as being superior to nature. Rather, the humanist life stance emphasizes the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions. Fundamental to the concept of secular humanism is the strongly held viewpoint that ideology—be it religious or political—must be thoroughly examined by each individual and not simply accepted or rejected on faith. Along with this, an essential part of secular humanism is a continually adapting search for truth, primarily through science and philosophy. Many Humanists derive their moral codes from a philosophy of utilitarianismethical naturalism or evolutionary ethics, and some advocate a science of morality.”

In other words. we control our choices and define our humanity, good or bad. More importantly, it means that the decisions we make, the people we are, isn’t because some deity somewhere had defined us as such… it is because we are responsible for who we are and what we choose as our actions.

With this, I found that a great weight had lifted from me, and strangely enough a fair amount of self-hatred as well that I never realized I was burdened with.  I still didn’t quite understand it, but a chance viewing of this debate with Christopher Hitchens put it all into perspective:

There it was. Religion poisons everything. Sure, there are examples of non-religious violence and so on, but compared to the carnage through the millennia, it wasn’t even a close comparison. And with the old saying, the truth will set you free. And without the shadows of religion of any sort, I now found myself with a new feeling… anger and rage to all things religion. That was a new one.

End of Pt 4. To be completed.

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Rants on Faith: Why are some atheists so angry at religion?

A few weeks back, I read this letter from Timothy Havener, the son of a Fundamentalist Christian minister and an atheist.  And what he wrote here brought my feelings in recent years to light.

As a child, I was a devout Catholic, going to morning mass, serving as a Pastoral reader, the Church Choir, and even aspired to religious service.  As I got older though, and strangely thanks to the Jesuits who asked me to really think about why I believed, I found myself falling completely out of faith altogether and into a place where I feel deep inside where I should have been a long time ago.  But despite it all, I still find myself being drawn to a almost militant fervour in my rejection of religion, even as I am so dedicated to growing as a citizen of my city and country. But I still didn’t quite understand why I was so angry at religion as a whole, and the Catholic Church in particular.  Mr. Havener, in this letter of realization of himself, explains it so well as he, and so many other of my fellow atheists, have found themselves in the same place.  It’s betrayal.  I could say more… but I think I’ll let Mr. Havener explain it all himself:

Since I have become an atheist there is a growing anger inside me that sometimes flowers into a quiet, and other times not so quiet, rage. Theists and even some atheists do not seem to understand this emotion, or they trivialize it. Even I have not fully understood this causal effect of my deconversion. I know that I am angry about the lost years of my life wasted on delusions of grandeur and superstitious nonsense, but I have felt that was not really an accurate depiction of the deep emotional undercurrents I have experienced coming out of faith.

As a child, I remember that I loved to help people. My parents would often take me with them as they ministered to the sick, the elderly, and the needy. I was taught to love people as Jesus loved them. When I grew older my human compassion and empathy was filtered through a world view that instructed me to preach self condemnation and guilt as love. After all, if you truly loved your fellow man, you would do anything to prevent their eternal soul from burning in torment forever. So, I became a missionary to spread the ‘good news’ to those who needed the salvation of Christ. This became my mission in life and it consumed me.

When the walls of indoctrination started to crumble in my later years, I began to feel a sense of panic and fear. Fear that my mind was betraying me and that Satan was tempting me away from the Lord. At the same time I felt a drive to seek the truth fervently as I had been taught to do. This love for ‘truth’ and understanding had taken an unexpected detour to a place I never thought I would find myself. I would wrestle in prayer for hours in tears alone in the dark, pleading with a God who was never there. There were nights when I would wake up in cold sweats as if I could feel the fires of hell licking my feet.

After a while, when the fear and guilt subsided, I saw much more clearly what exactly religion had done to me. It had taken the innocence of a child who wanted to love and help people, and twisted me into a pawn to perpetuate its lies and fear. Worst of all, it made me think that this was love. I was taught that only through Christ could I experience true love for others. I was told my own heart was corrupted by the curse of sin I had inherited from Adam. When I would feel compassion and love for the afflicted I would always attribute these feelings to God and give credit to him.

This is where my anger truly comes from.

That love and empathy I felt was always me. The goodness I expressed toward others was always my own compassion and understanding. Religion was taking my identity as a person and the goodness in me, and using it to make itself stronger. But it did not stop there, it twisted the best qualities of my human nature and perverted it to spread a message of fear and lies to those most vulnerable to indoctrination. Looking back, it was if someone had stripped me of who I was and replaced it with a shell of a person.

The biggest betrayal was when I started to really look at the God in whom I placed my trust. The stories in the Bible revealed a psychopathic monster, not a loving father. The message of salvation became insulting to me. Why should I need redemption from such an awful, horrible creature who would slay infants and pregnant mothers because his feelings were hurt. I felt a level of betrayal that reached to the darkest corners of my mind and at the same time felt like I was betraying everyone who I had ever looked up to.

Christians only serve to compound this anger when they attempt to explain away the horrid aspects of Christian faith with nonsensical psychobabble or cherry picking verses. They seem to think that I was somehow flawed and never really a Christian when the truth is I believed more passionately than most of them. I do try to understand that they are just as deluded as I once was, but when you experience such a profound sense of betrayal that comes from seeing your faith with the eyes of reason, it can be an emotionally brutal ordeal that opens up scars you never even knew you had.

The sunlight of reality hurts when you step out of the darkness of ignorance and superstition, but that pain pales in comparison to what that light reveals when you can finally see what you did as a believer and what was done to you. That realization leaves you with an unrelenting anger that burns with a passion hotter than the fires of any imaginary hell. This same compassion that drove me to be a missionary now drives me in my anti theism. I seek to tear down the lies of religion so that not one more child will have to go through the emotional torment I experienced. No one deserves that…no one.

-Timothy Havener

New Frontiers … A Start

03-31-2014, I accidentally sent the link to this post and not the post intended for this week. Click here to read the intended post

A warning, but this is from my personal view and that as a writer.  As you know, “The Days” was a telling of both mine and her story over 29 yrs.  I’m proud of it and I poured as much of my spirit, and channeled as much of hers to convey to you how much we cared for one another, as my gift to Terry and Georgia, and as a cautionary tale in where a simple pure love can evolve into something twisted and unusual.  I truly believe as is, this chapter of my life could not possibly end more eloquently, if melancholy, with the reunion to come.  

But, it’s a tale that’s ongoing and evolving now into uncharted territory.  As such, The Days will continue, but as “New Frontiers” where I begin to explore my future with having T&G hopefully in my life.  This could suddenly end in June, or may well follow me for another 29 years, but in this, I am daunted yet excited to see where this could unfold in the tomorrows to come.  As it will progress with real-time, entries will probably be quarterly or even annually at best.  More so, to protect the feelings and trust of T&G, please understand that from here on, I probably won’t have the liberty to be as open and free with my words and experiences as I was with The Days.

Speaking again as a writer, I believe that a sequel is rarely as good as the original, so if you decide to preserve the purity and raw experience of The Days in your minds and opt out, it’s perfectly fine.  Nevertheless, if you’ve decided to follow, close your eyes.  Take my hand and take that first step with me.  Come.  Follow me down that rabbit hole to Wonderland.

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“Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” – Margo Channing / Bette Davis, All About Eve

“Too many couples break up without understanding the consequences for their families.” – Iain Duncan Smith

I don’t regret writing The Days Before Tomorrow these last few weeks.  I’ve had a few days to think about it the entire tale, and despite many doubts and some regrets in being so open with certain details, in the end I believe I’ve done our story justice.

Many of those ghosts I had are still there, but maybe a little quieter for once.  The reunion to come has brought me a sense of hope, though fear as well.  I’ve stirred up a hornet’s nest apparently in the lives of T & G, as so much they believed was their very existence has been shaken to the core.  In other words, I’ve opened Pandora’s Box, and there’s never any returning again to those innocent days.

I’m trying to imagine how I would feel if I just found out who the heart of your mother always belonged to, or that they were to be the children of their godfather after sudden loss.  I can’t imagine how it would feel, as my own parents have been together for 45 years and thankfully as much in love with each other as they were from the start.  Despite the headaches, the arguments and the strife that comes with such longevity, they are very much the model of what I see is a loving marriage, and I take inspiration from that.  In so many ways, no matter how much they might drive me crazy from time to time, they are still very much my heroes and I can’t imagine life without them in my skies.  But T & G were virtually orphaned at a young age, with a father who rejected custody out of some unknown reason, and a mother who was taken from them by a capricious whim of fate.

I have so many doubts right now on whether to continue writing.  I’ve tossed a grenade into the relationship with their true father, and placed doubts in their bond with their grandparents.  My talk with Georgia after she read “The Days” was illuminating to say the least.  There’s been so many lies and tales behind my disappearance, as apparently my sudden refusal to take the children was because I was in prison or something so mundane.  The kids always knew that I was close to their mom, but now know that I was so much more.  They had no idea about the restraining order, or that the sudden move to Montreal was inspired by the faint hope that She and I would finally get it right.   And now, they understand as well why their mom shared with them one little thing that comforted her, and myself, over the years…. our mutual love of lightning and thunder in the night.

The kids are adults now, and despite my doubts, they deserve now to know the hidden truths from all of these years.  But it’s a lot to take in… and I will speak with them again very soon.  They’re quite upset, and I want them to take a few days, weeks, months, or whatever time they need to absorb and process it all before we speak again.  Such an influx of truth can never be easy, and for that, I am so truly sorry to them.  But, as I told them, and it’s in the hope that my once friend will read this as well, as he is still their FATHER.  He was there when they took their first steps. When they said their first words.  The school plays and the soccer games.  I can’t fault him for a moment of weakness, and only feel gratitude for having the patience of Job.  It couldn’t have been easy to raise the kids, no matter how amazing they are, who were named after another man.  It definitely couldn’t have been easy to allow her decision to inexplicably raise the children Catholic, or have a reminder of past sorrows by naming me Godfather.  From what little I know right now, the kids have been loved, and cared for, and cherished as a loving father would.  I’m not the kids’ father.  I wasn’t there when it mattered, and I did the very same by not fighting for them when my time to step up had come regardless of legalities and battles.  I’m at best the distant uncle, but now he might well have to cope with my return.  I am grateful, and I hope we can settle on a truce for the sake of family.  I’ve known him for over 35 years, and we’ve both loved and suffered by these games of the heart.

One story is ending, but a new one has begun.  Welcome to the New Frontiers.

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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, Epilogue and Answers

The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

The Days Before Tomorrow … Pt. 4

“I’ve reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die. The world will keep on turning without me, I can’t do anything to change events anyway.”   – Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl    

“After all, how often do we get a second chance?”  – Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

“No matter how many plans you make or how much in control you are, life is always winging it.”   – Carroll Bryant

“She’s still in love with that f***** and did this to hurt him.”

“They’re divorced.”

Those words bounced around in my head as I sat there reading the divorce papers again and again.  This mad game had taken a whole new dimension, and I found myself in familiar territory once again in matters of Her, namely utterly confused and stunned once more. A few years of peace had gone by, so I shouldn’t have been particularly surprised that the past was returning to haunt me again.

A few hours later, She called me, a little afraid, a little meek.  The voice of the confident woman determined to keep me close had changed to that of a small little girl, one unsure of herself and her world.  This divorce had been in process for months, even years, and she had struggled to find the right time to tell me.  We spoke a little bit then cut it off as we both needed to process the news.  But despite it all, we avoided the elephant in the room, that for the first time since the whole mess began, the two of us were effectively single.

A few more months went by, and we spoke haltingly at best.  I really didn’t know what to think, and she was still embarrassed about her choices all of this time.  Worse, being across country, there really wasn’t too much either of us could do at the time.  She had a home with 2 kids and family on the west coast.  I had a job, and my own friends and family on the east, but realistically speaking, I could have left pretty much any time.  Why didn’t I?  I would probably say pride, or hurt or work or all of these things.  But I think the real reason was pettiness.  All of these years that she struck back again and again out of my emotional break, I didn’t have the same deep feelings as I once did… or maybe just buried those feelings out of a survival instinct.  The marriage.  The kids.  Being a godfather.  Seeing the mess unfold in front of my eyes.  Each and every act made was like a dagger to me, and they cut deep.  Could we have forgiven each other and made the right decision for once?  I personally strive every day to be a better person… even a little bit more.  But after 20 years of trying to hurt one another out of love of all things, I just didn’t know if I had it in me.  I had felt tired, and needed a change from the whole mess (plus I was deep in another one with a redhead (my weakness) I was kinda dating in Ottawa), so I took a job with a company in Ottawa.

I think the Fates must’ve been laughing their asses off that day.  At that exact same weekend when I moved into Ottawa, I got a surprise call on my cell from Her…. from MONTREAL.  While I was unsure of my feelings, she had not.  I had been essentially her one true love and had worked behind the scenes to moving back to La Belle Province.  So secretly, She took on a new job at McGill University as a researcher, and had been preparing to move back with the kids for a year try out.  She had taken a leave of absence from her work, quietly found a place and a school for the kids, set up the essentials for her family, and then once she thought she was ready, calmly made her call.

This definately wasn’t a moment of Serendipity, or even Irony… just pure tragedy I believe.  She called my cell to my still-Montreal number, and surprised me with the news.  No, not surprise, I would say absolutely and totally shocked me.  It started with a cheery hope to meet that night, to renew, talk and reevaluate our situations, and her absolute desire to be my wife.  I was just dumbfounded, and let her talk on and on, of her regrets, her loneliness through all the years, how much she missed my words of encouragement and mutual attraction, and how we finally had a chance to make everything right.  My first real words shattered her heart once more.  I told her that I was now in Ottawa on contract, and how I didn’t have the option to return.  I told her that I still cared for her, but I had so many many doubts about us ever coming back.  I told her that I still cared for her, but I wasn’t sure if I could be her husband.  And to the sound of her tears and sorrow, I asked her to give me a little time to think about it.  We would talk many times later over other issues with the kids, and to give me time to get used to possibly being their dad by having them stay with me for a few weeks.  We talked about her dad and mom, and about her new job.  But I never could have known that one conversation was the very last one I would ever talk to her about our feelings.

In March 2004, She was killed.  It was a car accident by a drunk driver.  It was quick and sudden, stupid, senseless, and she never had a chance. 

In April 2004, I was busy looking for a summer day camp for the kids, as I had been transferred by work to Calgary of all places.  At least in Ottawa, it was close to Montreal, and I had all sorts of resources to draw upon thanks to being a true son, although Asian, of Montreal.  As such, I didn’t really know my new city all that much at the time.

I was supposed to take them in July for a few weeks, and given my work schedule at the time, I had decided on putting them through day camp so I could spend the early mornings and evenings with T & G.  I was researching amusement parks, theme parks, trips to Banff, Medicentres for emergencies, food recipes and the 1,001 little things that I needed to know to make sure the kids would be fine and have an awesome time with me.  They had never spent more than a few days at a time with me, and definately never actually lived with me, so I was trying to do my best to be ready for them.  I was still unsure of my feelings for her, but I knew that those two were in so many ways, my kids, and there was nothing I wouldn’t do for them.  What I didn’t expect was a lawyer coming into my computer shop instead.

It was bright and sunny.  A Chinook was going through the city bringing us a stunningly hot day.  The air was strong, though a bit acrid.  But overall, it was a day full of promise and light.  To me, that’s how it started, but the rest of the day was dark and forsaken.  This man entered my store, and gave me a letter explaining why his presence.  The woman I loved with all my heart was dead, and our future together was now comprised of ashes.   I didn’t even read any further until he asked me simply, when would I be ready to accept the children.

I really didn’t understand anything at all, but as she had full custody, and that I was both official godfather and appointed guardian should something happen to BOTH parents, I was to receive the kids.  As He had not contested custody at all originally but still alive and well, some legal twist had awarded me custody.  Suddenly, all of that research became even more important, as I was now their father though I really didn’t understand how if He was still alive.  I always thought that his natural parental rights superseded any legal ones I might have had.  Why’d I have to be so right?

Only 2 days later, I was proven right.  Her dad walked into my shop, calm yet you could practically feel the air aflame with his silent fury.  Since her death, her parents had stayed in Montreal to care for the kids and to settle her affairs.  They had viewed this whole mess up close over the years, and probably never forgave themselves for agreeing to my mad breakup schemes, and never forgave me for being the man their daughter wanted.   He spoke calmly, yet precise in his intentions.  The kids were to return to their custody, and eventually be reunited with their dad.  I was supposed to agree to it, as I didn’t stand a chance legally, and they would spend their last dollar to bankrupt and ruin me if I fought.  That meeting me had destroyed their daughter, and ruined all of their lives.

I listened to all of this, speechless, with only sorrow and guilt overwhelming my being in every way that mattered.  I asked for a day, to absorb all of this and to ponder.  He granted it, sure in the righteousness of his position, left and told me he’d be back the following day.  I made a few calls, to lawyers and friends to get their take on the matter.  And in the end, they all agreed with me with what I knew myself was true.  The father was still alive, of good character, with the support of his parents and her parents.  I had the help of my own friends and family, but I couldn’t in good conscience bankrupt my family in a foregone conclusion.

The following day, I met her father in a cafe.  He already had a lawyer waiting with him, and I signed away my parental rights once and forever.  I broke my last link to her, and broke my promise to always protect her kids.  And to add insult to injury, they imposed a 5 year restraining order on me.  I was to never contact the kids again or even be able to approach her grave.  In a few days, I had lost my first love, and then lost our kids as well.

End of Part Four.   Epilogue to follow.

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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, Epilogue and Answers

The Days Before Tomorrow … Pt 3

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,” – William Congreve

“Hatred ever kills, love never dies. Such is the vast difference between the two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred.” – Gandhi

“I was born when you kissed me, I died when you left me, I lived a few weeks while you loved me.” – Humphrey Bogart

In all of my wildest dreams, I never saw that coming. We were close in so many ways, even though we weren’t a typical couple over the years. But, it was because we weren’t a normal couple that I had made my mistake in thinking that this was something that could be solved in a sudden dramatic fashion. To put it mildly, I was stunned, and remained so for the 2 or so hours where they both told me how they fell in love, how they both felt guilty about me, how they wanted me in their lives no matter the distance and more. To them, I was now family, like the happy go-lucky brother. In all honesty, I felt a bit like I had created a bizarre version of Frankenstein’s Monster, one that was now coming for my blood for the sin of brutal creation.

So I played the game a little further and served as their Best Man, and I think I played my part well. Should I mention about the bachelor party I hosted? The actual event at the altar where I smiled and cooed, all the while wanting to leap out of a window? How about the wedding banquet, quite modest thankfully, but still filled with those little games that everyone loves to watch. No one said if I looked upset or angry, though her parents did take me aside and told me that it was my fault that this happened and I should have been there on that altar instead. But realistically, my only thoughts were on how much I wanted this to end, and to wash my hands of everything and disappear from sight.  Little did I know that even long after the night ended and I returned to Montreal, she had other plans in motion to keep me close.

A few short months later before Xmas, I was told there was a surprise coming.  While admittedly not particularly thrilled, I had to admit I was a bit curious to see what she had in mind.  I was pretty much expecting maybe copies of the wedding photos?  A thank you gift?  Maybe a visit?  Who knew what it could be really?  I was still feeling the sting of the wedding, and I knew in my heart of hearts that this mess was entirely my fault.  I mean, I knew she would be upset with losing me, but I never in a million years thought she would rebound in such a strange and unexpected way.  Little did I know, that was just the beginning.

On Xmas Eve, they came around to my door bearing gifts.  I wasn’t surprised, as I expected something along these lines. The meeting was brief, as they had other doors to knock and people to see, but they did tell me to keep my New Years’ Eve free. I should have lied and said I had plans or something, but that would have been futile. All of those years of written notes and secret whispers had made her a human Terry lie detector for the most part (with of course the exception of when I shoved her). So I went about my daily holiday business of too much turkey, tons of family and friends and so on, but my mind remained a bit at unease knowing THE day approaching.

New Year’s Eve actually started to be fun. Being the geek I am, they surprised me with a private room and a few matches of Laser Quest of all things. It seemed to be a genuinely pleasant approach to that night that I never expected. There was of course a blind eye to the case of sparkling wine brought into the room, several pizzas and laughter between the 3 of us and their friends all around. We talked and reminisced, went over the elementary to college years, the disastrous first date ever, odd arguments about horror movies and so on, and I was honestly starting to relax and enjoy the company. Famous last thoughts I suppose.

Throughout the night, I noticed that while we were all enjoying the bubbly, she had stuck to apple juice and so on. She was never much of a drinker, but then, it was New Year’s Eve. And as the final few minutes of the year arrived, she stood up and poured a very small amount of wine into her glass and made a toast. First was a toast to her new husband, then her friends and family and then as she put it (and I so have those words burned into my brain in 24 point Helvetica type), “To Terry, the dearest friend, sweetheart and soon to be UNCLE and GODFATHER TO MY SON.” I so dearly wished right there and then for those laser pistols to be fully functional and lethal so I could shoot myself.

There was a lot of cheering and toasting that night. I felt sick and left the building, trying not to faint or throw up on the ground. It was a particularly cold night then, but I honestly didn’t even notice as both shock and a bit of fury had gripped me. I thought I was done and over with her, but now I saw that she meant every word about keeping me close. And as with stupid me and my code of chivalry, I felt obliged to say yes when I wanted to just scream. I looked back at the door to Laser Quest, composed myself, went back inside and apologized for my sudden reaction and accepted the honor. Months later, I got to meet my first godchild ever, and could you believe the coincidence? He was named Terry too.

By the way, did I happen to mention how unusual it would have been for me to be the Godfather? I was born and raised catholic, and lived across the country to boot. She was protestant, though He was catholic as well. Moreso, my belief in the Christian faith had already begun to wane back then (I’ve since become Atheist) which didn’t exactly make me a very good candidate. She didn’t care, and if He did, He didn’t tell me then. So annually, I would send gifts and notes to my godson to read when he was older, and every so often I would see them in Montreal or I would go there. A few short years later, Terry was followed by a second child, a sweet little girl named Georgia. I should have guessed, as my middle name is George. But if things were getting weird, she didn’t let me know.  (I’m a bit thankful there weren’t more kids. My full name is Terrence George Bing Nung Lo, which incorporates my chinese name as well.  Somehow I imagine in a parallel universe a kid named Bing being teased mercilessly in a playground.)

This game went on and on, and I would make my regular phone calls to the family and talk to my godkids. He had become a successful restaurant manager while the wedding and children derailed her studies in law, but still managed to get a degree in accounting somehow. I stayed in Montreal, finding new loves time and again, but somehow always watching them go up in flames in one way or another (Those tales are for another soap opera tale in the future). Still, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, as we all found our lives going their own separate paths as they should.

It was a Saturday in July that I called to wish lil’ Terry a happy birthday. But instead of the formalities of saying hi and so on, Terry passed me on to his grandma. She was expecting my call, and wanted a chance to tell me her mind. She had told me that HE had left, and moved away with another woman with kids of her own. She, my 1st, was now a single parent to the 2 kids, and that custody was entirely hers and that HE didn’t even contest it. Her mom then told me the rest of the story, of the fights and the counselling that went on in the background. The regrets she had by acting so rashly by marrying him, and the hurt and pain behind it all. How She had insisted on naming both kids after me, and that I had to be their godfather. Her mom confirmed all of my suspicions and more, and then lectured me about how it should have been me and her daughter from the start. Many more words were passed on, but the final word was from the Court of BC. I was faxed copies of the divorce papers, and besides “Irreconcilable Differences”, there it was written in HIS handwriting just under HIS signature:

“She’s still in love with that f***** and did this to hurt him.”

End of Part Three

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The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt. 1
The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt. 2
The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude
The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind
The Days Before Tomorrow, Epilogue and Answers
The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

The Days Before Tomorrow … Pt 2

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!” – Scottish Poet, Robert Burns

“You always hurt the one you love
The one you shouldn’t hurt at all
You always take the sweetest rose
And crush it till the petals fall” – Songwriter Alan Roberts, Sung by Peggy Lee

So there was the impasse.  She didn’t want to leave.  She didn’t want to leave ME.

As we walked together after that moment, she couldn’t imagine life without my irregular notes in her door, or the awkward silences as we both danced around our feelings all of those wasted years.  I couldn’t imagine the nights not spent talking on the phone as the lightning roared and the heavens thundered.  Just the way she would grin silently as classical played on into the air, or the scent of her hair.  So many things I realized I would miss.

The following day, I secretly skipped class and went to talk to her mom.  She had long known about our almost secret relationship, and was always encouraging me to take it to the next step.  In her eyes, her daughter had a boy who truly cared for her, was kind, considerate and sincere, but more importantly, one who cared enough for her girl to give up his world.  And I did, so the plans proceeded.

I made myself less available day after day, and the notes became shorter and shorter.  Comments on life and love, spirit and music on the page evolved into simple gossip and banter about my “brothers”, inane school events and complaints about the Quebec government.  I tried to portray a callous, unfeeling Terry who was unworthy of anyone.  I ceased to walk over to meet her in the mornings, and would “forget” about our rare special evenings in exchange for nights of popcorn and movies alone or with my best friends.  The campaign, I knew would be long and hard, and I was going insane in thought.  My spies in her midst, her mother and father would continue to argue and rant on their end to ensure her departure and feed me information.  It wasn’t very successful, as she saw through the whole ploy with laser like accuracy.  Worse, she tracked me down at my favorite McDonald’s (well, yes, I wasn’t much of a foodie admittedly back then), sat down, told me to quit it, and kissed me on the cheek.

Time was running short, and I really didn’t know what else I could do.  The problem with having written hundreds of pages of my feelings and thoughts to her, is that she knew me fundamentally deeper than any person alive.  Deadlines on events that deal with life situations weren’t really something I was particularly good at, especially when considering  it was with one who loved me so well.  So I went back to her parents and we talked one more time. In the end, we all agreed, there was only one action left to do… and it’s one that has always scarred and shamed me in so many ways.

The day we broke up was not a particularly exceptional day, but it’s one I will always recall.  For those who know me, I have cherished in my heart the code of Chivalry and the pursuit of knightly honor to be my most highest belief.  In fact, that dedication was always greater than what I once believed as an evangelized youth, my comic books, movies and geekdom highlights.   As the days counted down to the final cut off to accepting the scholarship came close, all I could think was acts of desperation.  My sweet girl  had it in her mind that she wasn’t leaving and was just going to wait and work a bit until a time would come when we both could leave and excel.  But in the meantime, the days had become a monotonous routine, where we would meet, then argue about the lack of time left, then kiss, then allow her to enrapture me with the joy of her presence and then argue again, and then have her remind me that I’ll be forced to quit it pretty soon so I might as well stop there and then, and the day would progress as it would.  This time, I added a few more factors… the presence of her parents and a deliberate dedication to be ugly, to be angry and to be evil in the basest manner possible.

I won’t go through the full details, but the ambush was successful in raising the tension.  Voices were loud and angry as we were pleading and begging, and then (and with prior secret approval) accusations about me would be made and so much more.  But in the end, as it all came to a head, I did the one thing I didn’t want to do but realized was the only thing I could do to turn her passion away… I raised my hand, and in front of her family, shoved her hard onto the floor and started the first move to a follow up action.  Her mother knew I might had to do that.  Her father didn’t… and with that shove, the air in the room stood still.

I was thrown out by her dad, and justly so.  He didn’t punch me, but I honestly hoped he would.  Since growing out of elementary, I had never raised a hand in anger against a woman ever, and I couldn’t believe I actually did.  She looked out at me from her living room window, stunned, and angry.  She was always strong willed, but with that one act, I shattered every image and belief she had in me.  And as dearly as I wanted to run back in to hold her, to apologize and beg forgiveness, the anger of her father had put an end to that.

She called. I didn’t answer. I wrote no notes. I never walked with her again. Camelot had fallen, and to free her, I shattered both our hearts.  And in those months to come, we had no more contact no matter how much we both wanted it.

Here is where fate decided to give me a good s***kicking for my audacity to strike a woman.  In those months, I got word from her mom about how depressed she was, and how all our efforts might go to naught if she dropped out instead.  I had done my job too well.  But to tell her that I attacked her to force her to go to school and it was orchestrated??  I foresaw a pretty angry woman getting off a plane, and then throttling her family, and then me.  So what to do, what to do … when inspiration hit.  Maybe if I had a friend show her around, cheer her up, maybe she’ll improve and I even knew who to befriend her.  He was an old friend of mine from childhood, who moved to that city long ago but we still kept in touch.  Friendly, outgoing, emphatic and simply a nice guy, I asked him to see if he could look her up and gave him the full story on the event that drove her off so he had some reference.  That wasn’t a great idea in hindsight.

Months more went by, and as the days passed, while I missed the regular notes and her presence, I still did my best to go on.  The first summer was the hardest or so I thought.  When lightning struck, I looked up and closed my eyes trying to imagine her near me, letting the sound of thunder rumble through my body.  I still wrote, but this time it was notes to no one.  And as the notes piled, the amount slowed down to a smaller flow, and then a trickle, and then none.

It was in August that I got a call.  My buddy who I had asked to keep an eye on her was in town.  Considering that I really owed him one, I wanted to hear everything, but more importantly, offer some payback for a favour I never could really ever repay… or so I thought.  So feeling nostalgic, guilty and 100s of other feelings, I met him at le Biftheque for a good ol’ fashion steak dinner.

I always loved that restaurant.  The old classic wood and barn look that hasn’t changed in decades.  The dim lighting and the chuckwagon red and white table clothes.  The fresh bread baking all the time, filling the rooms with the scent of utter joy and pleasure.  And most importantly, the booths, where I walked over to meet him… and HER.  My sins had come to roost.

Awkward really doesn’t even begin to explain the next few hours.  I was stunned, guilty, lovelorn, angry, sad, and probably everything else you could expect.  Honestly, if I had the chance to put my fist through the wall, I probably would have gladly.

As the evening progressed, I barely heard anything they were telling me to bring me up to speed.  Eating was probably the last thing on my mind, but I focused as best I could to ignore the banter… until the last few words.  While he was keeping her company to cheer her up, they fell in love.  And with me as a lesson for the follies of not making a final decision, they decided to get married as soon as possible and flew back to Montreal to ask for my permission.

You know, they say the road to hell is paved in good intentions?  It definately is.  In my “good-ness”, I was the architect of this Titanic, but now looking desperately for that chunk of ice on the horizon to put me out of my misery.  And on they talked, and explained, and then came the special request, an iceberg worthy of this ocean of hell.

“Terry, we want you to be the BEST MAN.”

End of Part Two.

—————

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt. 1

The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt. 3

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind

The Days Before Tomorrow, Epilogue and Answers

The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

The Days Before Tomorrow … Pt 1

“Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face” – Alanis Morrisette, “Ironic”

”They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true. What they don’t tell you is that when it starts again, it moves extra fast to catch up.” – Ed Bloom, Big Fish

“The magic of our first love is our ignorance that it would never end.” – Unknown

This will definately become a multi-part blog, as it’s a pretty long story.  It’s one that’s probably worthy of a soap opera, and it literally spawns over decades.

It’s a tale never written in full, but it’s time that its told, even in summary.  It’s about a pretty special girl who I will never forget, and in many ways never forgive as well. It’s about love and loss. It’s about passion and fate, pride and stupidity.  It’s about obsession.  It’s about hatred. It’s about the law. It’s about the moral right against the legal right, and how it’s so hard to tell where the line between the two is sometimes. And in the end, it’s simply about a girl, who loved a boy, who loved her back, and how they both lost one another.

But to tell the tale, I have to tell you a bit about how it all started.  Just to let you know, because some people are still around in this whole mess, including 2 innocent kids who I still love so all names have been concealed save mine.

When I first saw her at the community pool, I think I could honestly say that I was just breathless.  It wasn’t one of those teen flashes of “babeocity”, where hormones ran rampant and hearts flew. I was just stunned.  There she was, in her simple 1-piece swimsuit, her smile and that look… that look that turned me into a deaf mute.  Again with the buts though, this was a time when I was young, insecure and painfully shy.  I aspired to be the knight of olde even then, but all I could pretend to be was the new squire to be ordered and ridiculed.

I wasn’t one of the cool crowd back then.  I was the geek, the kid who was nervous and self conscious and jittery.  I was the one who everyone liked, but not necessarily would invite to a night out for a drink and would be far more at home in a basement playing Dungeons and Dragons than watching a football game.  So while I was struck by her, I was equally intimidated by her as well.  It was like a “5” was striving to win a “10”.

So the first few weeks went, with course after course learning how to rescue dive, to perform CPR, use a spinal board and so on.  There I was, longing to know her and being too shy but it took the secret “summer friend” event at the YMCA to change things.

In the day, I was working for the YMCA as a day camp counsellor and then would bike to swim classes.  To promote friendship among the staff, a secret summer friend project was launched, whereas a summer friend would get to do something special for another one secretly based on names picked out a hat.  Simply put, I kinda sucked as a secret summer friend.  With my busy schedule, I kept forgetting to do something special for my “friend.”  But my secret friend rocked!  One day, I went to check my personal mailbox, only to find a bag full of fresh baked cookies!  Pretty jazzed by the gift, I brought it to swim class and lost pretty much all inhibitions and offered them to HER.  The cookies rocked, but what happened right after rocked ME.  She kissed me on the cheek,

From thereon, we were great friends.  We were always sitting together during classes, talking, joking and chatting, working out times to go out together and so on.  It was a glorious summer, and as the weeks passed, my feelings grew ever more.

But as all good things, classes came to an end and I dreaded the time to miss her presence.  With that, I knew I had to take one great chance.  Fortes fortuna juvat.  Fortune Favours the Bold.

It was the day of the final swimming exam where we had to “rescue” each other, take each other out, and perform mouth to mouth.  Everyone walked in ready for the challenge. I walked in not caring at all for that one, as I had a greater challenge in my hands…. a bouquet of roses.  Before class started, I faced her, and quietly gave her the bouquet, and secretly reveled in my glorious action.  I didn’t give her a chance to answer.  I didn’t give her even a word explaining it all.  I just showed her that I really, really cared for her.

The exam went on, and we all performed as expected.  Swimming a few miles in the pool in the different styles.  Diving in one way or another.  Dealing with panicked swimmers.  But then came the mouth to mouth, and it was her turn to rescue me.

Well, here I was, “unconscious” and partially “drowned”, doing my best to pretend to be a swimmer in distress.  I was partnered up with her, and I just really hoped that I didn’t have really bad breath to make her exam unpleasant.  Nope. It was so far completely from unpleasant that she honestly did take my breath away.

It was a typical procedure of course.  Tilt the head.  Check for breathing.  Clear the airway.  Pinch the nose. Take a deep breath.  Cover his mouth with yours.  Begin to secretly give him a french kiss in the middle of a mouth to mouth exam knowing he won’t endanger your mark and hope he doesn’t freak out.

Yes people, that was my first french kiss.  She knew I reveled in flustering her with the roses, so she french kissed me in a very unusual way, and in the one place where she knew I would never run.  Each “kiss” had to be quick and short, but as her tongue touched mine each time, the moments lasted damn near forever.

That was that, the gauntlet was thrown, and we would become close in our own clumsy way.  Over the years to come, she and I would walk together in the morning every day before she would get onto her bus to school.  We were both from different school districts, so I never saw her in the weekdays much.  But we would write to each other day after day, note after note found awaiting the other.  On weekends, she would be with her friends, and I with mine, but still grew close through our words and our rare moments together. And… always, whenever possible, we would sit close, stare into the heavens and watch the lightning and the thunder play their dance in the night skies. 

By the end of that first year, I knew I was in love with her.  And I believed she loved me too.

Fast forward a few years, and as ever, we just couldn’t seem to keep a regular schedule together. We both had other boyfriends, girlfriends, dates and flings, but we always found ourselves together a few months later.  Each time was chaste, honourable and proper.  We loved each other, but weren’t quite sure HOW to love one another.  We both kept ourselves pretty busy and just kept passing one another by like 2 ships in the night.  We were young and stupid, and kept finding barriers to keep each other apart, yet would write to each other like crazy and still find ways to let our words touch the other.

We were now university students, but she was always in many ways far more focused than me.  She had won a full scholarship far away, and I was so proud and happy for her.  But, and again always the but, there was a problem.  She didn’t want to leave.

Was it because she was afraid of leaving Montreal?  Afraid of being alone in a new school?  We spoke, discussed, talked, argued and communicated in every way that was possible over days with the matter going no further ahead.  Her family was concerned, and I was worried beyond belief.  Such opportunities rarely came, and I didn’t want her to miss out on this chance of a lifetime.  And being a typical male, I saw it all in a black and white matter, when she showed me her one overwhelming argument in one burst of communication I never considered…. a kiss.

It was a long, deep kiss, full of longings, hopes and dreams.  It told me everything about her, her heart and what she wanted without saying a word.  I was the reason why she wouldn’t leave. No more… no less.

And with that, I started my plans to do probably the singly most noblest thing I’ve ever done, and probably the stupidest one as well.  I started to conspire with her parents to break her heart and shatter this almost a full relationship for good.  My logic, break her heart and drive her away to school where she can focus and become a great lawyer.  The problem? Logic never really works well in matters of the heart.   And from that moment, a mutual journey began.  It was one that would run over 20 years and tie our lives and several others together in ways that I could have never ever foreseen.

End of Part 1.

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt. 2

The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt. 3

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind

The Days Before Tomorrow, Epilogue and Answers

The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword