The Days Before Tomorrow: The 10th Anniversary of Her Passing

“Lost love is still love. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.” – Mitch Albom

“Though lovers be lost love shall not.” – Dylan Thomas

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Almost 30 years ago I met her. A bit over 20 years ago I broke both our hearts. 10 years and a few days, she broke mine, and those of “our” children one more time forever, when she was killed by a drunk driver.

The daughter of my heart, if not by genetics and marriage, my dear sweet Georgia will be coming to Calgary in a few days for a friend’s bachelorette party. I’ll see her for an evening, and then she’s back to Vancouver, all 3-4 months pregnant as well. But I know that while our reunion is in her mind, today of all days 10 years past is there as well, as in my son Terry’s too, as it was her death that profoundly changed things in all of our lives those days long ago.

As I think upon her, and of the path not taken, I still wonder what it would have been like to have had her in my life and to have raised the kids as my own. Would we have finally fit in the cosmic scheme of things? Would all doubts I had towards reconciliation broke us apart again? I really just don’t know.

But I do know this, and it’s something I’m simply so amazed by my wife, WK, is so understanding about. There will always be a part of me that was with her, despite the madness, the insanity of the situation and secret unspoken longings that we both shared yet never uttered to one another.

She was my muse of beauty and light, a mystery within, an enigma wrapped in a smile that could dazzle and warm the coldest of hearts. She was a lover of fine music and arts, curious of the glorious stars and galaxies above and a shield maiden to those who threatened her family. She hated high heels and the illusion of fashion, yet stood for all that was right in the world without, even if not satisfied personally within. She was that rare spirit that yearned to be free, yet was determined to be tied to the chains of love and memory. She was a warrior against fate, and saw that fate was in large part what we made of it, and fought for the chance for the both of us to reunite.

In the end…. she was as rare as lightning in a bottle and just as electric to the touch. The memory of her kiss, her skin, the deepness in her eyes, and the simple way … the way she embraced joy in the dance of thunder above still aches in me deep inside. She was my 1st love, and no matter how strange things came to be, I am thankful that she was a part of my life.

Good night my sweet these 10 years now past. While I may not believe in a heaven, if there is one, I hope you have found it and that you have found peace now and forever now that your… no… OUR children and I have been reunited after all this time.

Good night. I miss you. Terry, Georgia and I. We miss you.

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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

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The New Frontiers: Repeats, Reunions and Restorations…

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it is to be alive. It’s pretty dense kids who haven’t figured that out by the time they’re ten…. Most kids can’t afford to go to Harvard and be misinformed.”  ― Kurt Vonnegut

Before I go on, I’m still not going to post any pics for the foreseeable future.  Outside of their first names, I want the kids to still have a measure of privacy.  I am writing this with their full knowledge and permission, but I am now trying to be a little more restrained due to circumstances.

Well, it’s happened.  I’ve met my “kids”, and in all honesty, I still don’t know what to think.  The first meeting I had in mind kinda went awry, as WestJet inexplicably flew well over 90+ minutes late.  Add processing and the rest, and my late but still ok 9-something pm landing suddenly became one that happened a little before midnight.  Needless to say, by the time I I got out of the gates, the kids were absolutely exhausted.  Given that Terry had to get back for lunch and dinner service in Whistler the next day, the meeting I wanted to have with them both together pretty much was blown out of the water.  Georgia just went home, and we would find a time to later meet.

Terry

Terry stayed over in Vancouver that night, and met me for a pretty early 6:30am breakfast in a Chinese café-bakery.  (By the way, highly recommend New Town Bakery on E Hastings, it was simple, inexpensive, hot and simply rocked.)  In the brief hour or so that we talked, he was simply a joy.  Obviously a child of the 00’s, his Star Wars was Anakin Skywalker and the Clone Wars.  Linkin Park was his Sting and the Police and he never even heard of The Doctors 1 thru 8.  He’s bright, analytical and determined to be a chef no matter what.  He’ll make it, I have no doubt.  But he’s also a little awkward socially.  His focus on his craft has made him appear to be a little cold, even aloof to an extent.  Still, once you do get to know him, you can’t help but respect him.

Georgia

On Saturday, I had went out to meet an old friend I had never met face to face in 15 years.  It was fun, exciting and a grand old trot down memory lane.  But as all good things, it had to end a little early as I had promised a friend to pick up some Dragon’s Beard Candy from the Richmond Night Market.  On my way there, I noticed a text from Georgia, who was already there and we agreed to meet.

Remember, until this weekend, all of my communications with the kids have been entirely on the phone or via the net.  Everyone has a persona they assume online, whether it be one that’s daring, brave, meek or silent.  But in person… ah, there’s the rub.  The cute little 8 yr old girl I remember is a very different 18 year old girl, and one that I bet her mom would have tore her hair out over.

It’s not that Georgia is a bad girl, or some wild child who drives parents to drink.  It’s that she’s so very much her mother’s daughter.  I see so much of my old love in her, and so many of the special qualities that made me so charmed and enamoured even now over 3 decades.

Georgia is smart and clever, quick witted and open.  She is a caring, loving blossoming woman who you can’t help but fall in love with from the start.  She keeps the same insane schedule that her mom did at this age, with most of her days already prescheduled weeks to months in advance.  It’s that drive that made her mom such a star to UBC, and when properly focused, will make Georgia a contender in the days to come.  The problem is that just like her mom, she wears her heart on her sleeve, and is incredibly pig headed.  Terry told me that once she’s made a decision, it takes a small miracle to make her reconsider.  Like me, she has a flair for the dramatic, and makes life changing decisions at a whim as she will follow her heart.  And more importantly, she has a sense of justice based on her own beliefs and is quite willing to defends those decisions to the death.

Unfortunately, this has led her to three decisions that I wonder how much came from me (somehow) and how much came from my old love.

– After reading “The Days” and finding out so many things about her bio dad, and my deep unusual relationship with her mom, she’s stopped talking to him now altogether.  She assures me that she came to this decision herself, but I can’t help but feel that I’ve traumatized her with the truth.  Problem is that, what choice did I really have as well?  I wasn’t about to lie to protect the false reasons why I was abandoned the kids after the death of their mom, or my complicated feelings for her even after all of these years.  Nevertheless, it’s been months since she has had more than a 3 word conversation with her dad, and I feel so horribly personally responsible for this.

– She’s about to get married in a few months, about the same age when my old love and I had once considered the future together.  Worse, it looks like her taste in men is about the same.  Her fiance was working at the Richmond Night Market (hense the timing), and he’s CHINESE.

– She’s asked ME to be the one to give her away.  She sees it as things going full circle, and that I was supposed to be her dad.  I am honored that she asked me, but it feels quite honestly wrong in a lot of ways.  I don’t deserve this pedestal.  I was with her mom in a quasi lost love relationship for over 7 years. Her real dad raised her for most of her 18 years.  He has cared for her, loved her, and sacrificed so much for her that I can never ever repay.  This is his spot, and his honour not mine.

Now let’s get back to where this mess is about to lead.  I’m not going to comment much on her fiance for now, since I really don’t know the guy at all.  All I know is that he’s from Shanghai, studied in western schools and is 24 years old. I have no idea if he’s getting his citizenship, or if he’s even a landed immigrant.  He speaks english with a bit of an british / chinese accent, and apparently works at that market on the weekends.  He seems to genuinely care for Georgia, but I can’t get over the fact that they started seeing one another only months ago…. and now marriage???

I haven’t had time to really think this all through, but this feels so wrong.  I’m trying to respect her decision, but now I think I have to be her father to try to talk sense as she’s presently lacking one right now.  She won’t talk to me at all abotu how her dad is, and what are his thoughts.  I’m actually a bit surprised that he even let Georgia move out at this age for that matter, assuming he even had a choice.

I’ve gotten advice from a few friends here and there, but I still have to think for now. I can tell already that my wife is going to have some problems with Georgia, which is another consideration I’m will have to factor in. So many lives, so intertwined in the decisions I soon will have to make, and all from a single desperate moment based on an ill-conceived haphazard plan. Wow. If there is some sort of afterlife, I can just imagine my old love just looking on in total puzzlement and disappointment.

But there is one thing for certain… I promised someone special and dear to me that I would always be there to strive to be their father, mentor and friend.  I promised her that I would always be there to try to guide them on a path that would find them their own happiness, and to avoid the mistakes that my old love and I made that will always haunt me.

“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!” – Margo Channing, All About Eve

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

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

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