It’s now 11 years and a week or so since she passed, and now 30 years since that fateful summer when we first met. That special relationship put myself and her children on a path that I never could have foreseen.
I haven’t written much about the kids this year, especially as I’ve only seen them twice. As I’ve explained, they’re not mine through blood or law, but they are of my heart nevertheless. In every way that truly matters to me and to them, we are family, and they’ve taught me so much about how it is to be a proud father.
Terry completed his stage in Las Vegas, and then extended it, and then extended it once again. He’s on leave of absence from culinary school now, simply because he was encouraged to travel and learn under some of the best in the culinary world. He’s in England, doing a stage on a culinary level that simply stuns me. There are no words I can express to describe the heights he will achieve.
Georgia is in year 2 studying law, the very degree her own mother couldn’t complete due to the events long ago. In a moment of face palm humor and frustration, she continues to show the stubbornness, passion and brilliance that her mom possessed. You see, she introduced to me her new boyfriend, another Chinese kid who I swear resembles me a little. But this time, he seems to genuinely love her, and they met through the same law program. Of course, I warned him as a father to take good care of her or else, but he already knew better than to upset her. She’s going to be brilliant, but I admittedly look forward to see her walk the aisle in a white dress.
But that’s not the purpose of this blog, and why I returned to the Days. The real story is why that chance meeting 30 years ago continues to guide my life even now.
As you’ve probably read, I’m running for office now. I wasn’t planning to, but I discovered that I had to. There’s the classic saying, “All it takes for Evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.” But while I subscribe to such dramatic thoughts, I believe that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it far better:
I’ve always tried to be a defender for others. I see that the highest aspiration of a person is to serve his or her fellow citizen and found that the problems we see in life is very often rooted in silence. I simply want to serve my city, my home and make it just a little better each day, and to speak out to hopefully inspire others to act and do the same.
Now, I have a chance to serve and make a real difference on a great scale. There are so many causes that matter to me. Education. Equality rights. The future of Calgary. Small business. My friends and family. So many and more… and to make a difference, I choose to stop being someone who spoke from the audience into someone who wants to speak truth to power. This truly unique opportunity has come up, an invitation to run for office and have a voice where it matters.
Why am I standing up for what I believe in, when others could have been content from the sidelines? It was Terry who inspired me. He took the chance and had the bravery to come out to me, telling me a truth where so many other children found themselves ostracized, beaten, abused or even banished as my friend, photographer Kelly Hofer. With this decision, he showed me what true bravery was, and why I fight now.
One summer long ago, my first love and I kissed. It was a cheeky french kiss at a time where I was helpless while pretending to demonstrate mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. It was a kiss full of mischief, joy and bold acts of young love and sweet moments. It put me on a path, through her legacy, that guided me to this moment of perfect clarity and the bravery to act.
To my wife, my friends, my city, the people of Calgary-Glenmore, and the bravery of a young man who I love as my own son, I dedicate myself to serve, to inspire others, and most importantly, I choose to lead. I am Terry Lo, a dreamer fighting to make a great Calgary into reality, and I want to be your MLA. And this is a call to action to all, and I beg of you to stop being neutral or silent. Help me, be brave and stand up and act.
The Story of the Days Before Tomorrow and the Children
(This is more of a personal musing on a life overly lived this past year. It may be of interest, it may not. But in the end, it’s an insight into the life of a quirky lover of Calgary.) Wow. As of Oct 15, I’ve spent 44 yrs. on this dusty ol’ planet of ours. 44 years where I got to see my waistline go from 0 to an astounding 48 and settle on 34. 44 yrs where I had to live with the knowledge of the lives I’ve saved, failed to, and outright lost through tragedy and simple fate. And 44 yrs to see my life evolve once more from someone who served a few to one who found a new path to help. Oh, and 44 yrs where I learned to write in overly sentimentalist terms. Ok, enough with the maudlin style of writing. Overly poetic and melodramatic, though the practice would help me get a job scripting the next Thor movie.
Now let’s see, I turned 44 last week. I’ve helped raise over $40K directly for charity in the last 18 months, and highlighted the Calgary food scene. I’ve left the Investigation business to become a Social Media Manager, and apparently a pretty decent food event creator as well. I’m well regarded in several social media circles, both locally and internationally, and even had a chance to highlight old media skills once more. More importantly, I did this all while wearing pants most of the time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PTLKPx4kHA
In this time, I’ve come to enjoy my new position as a surrogate father to a gay son (go Terry… so proud of you) and a daughter that reminds me an awful lot of her late mom. Dragon boat paddling is still my passion in sports, though as the years go by I’ve started to see that my final years of competition are upon me as my back isn’t what it used to be. I’ve seen some great restaurants come up, and met far more interesting people.
What I have found though… – I’ve definitely become an outspoken atheist. As per my prior posts, I’ve found that the ongoing hypocrisy of organized religion is a far bigger problem than a support. I’m basically burning my political future with this statement, but I would rather be known as being true to my lack of belief than to mollify the sensitivities of theists; – I have so much to learn about being a dad of a LGBT kid. I’m trying though. I’m trying. It’s amazing what that sort of insight has done to my worldview, and I refuse to ever be quiet about their rights ever again as I was during my theist days. If anyone else wants to give me some advice, I’d love to know. – For that matter, I have so much to learn about being a dad of a 19 yr old daughter. In the almost 2 years we’ve gotten back together, she’s had 1 fiance, then a husband, was pregnant, then not, and still managed to succeed in law school. And that’s before I even get to all of the little lessons I’ve been discovering about the mindset of a girl. I always wanted a daughter of my own. Now that I do, I love and cherish her indeed, but I have to admit that it’s been a heck of a roller coaster ride.
The year to come will be a critical year in terms of special plans and personal growth. If you thought YYC Burger Week and YYC Pizza Week was impressive, keep an eye out. This is LITERALLY the start. – A year since the YYC Floods, I love my home city ever more. So where is this post going? I’m really not quite sure myself right now, as when I normally write I do have a tale in mind. Did I learn anything? Probably. Was it anything useful? Probably not. But what I can say… I’m surprised by the numbers of people who I’m proud to call my friends, my family and most importantly, the travellers who follow my path and dreams along the way. For that, I thank you all. And I’ll hopefully see you all soon. Cheers.
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn.”
-T H. White, The Once and Future King, Unknown
Fathers, be good to your daughters. Daughters will love like you do. Girls become lovers who turn into mothers, So mothers, be good to your daughters too
– John Mayer, “Daughters”
Since Xmas,it’s been a hell of a roller-coaster life. Here’s my recap for new readers (you can read the full story in “The Days Before Tomorrow“).
- 29 years ago, I met a girl who I loved. We never did end up being a true couple, but still ended up in love with one another.
- Almost 22 years ago, I deliberately broke her heart, and mine, out of what I believed to be the greater good. (Covered in The Days, Pt. 2)
- 21 years ago, she married a man she liked, not loved, out of confusion, spite and so on. (Covered in The Days, Pt. 3)
- 20 years ago, she gave birth to my spiritual step-son, Terry, named after me and appointed me as his godfather and guardian should something happen.
- 18 years ago, she gave birth to my spiritual step-daughter, Georgia, also named after me, and again appointed me godfather.
- 10 years ago, she divorced that man and tried to reconcile the years with me, of which I was unavailable physically, and as I ponder, possibly even emotionally at that time.
- 9 years ago, she was killed by a drunk driver, and I was banned from the kids as a possible kidnapping risk (covered in The Days, Pt 4)
- 2 years ago when Terry turned 18, he looked for me and found me on social media. He then started to watch me from time to time wondering if he should approach me or not (explained in Unintended Consequences)
- Last Xmas, both kids finally did, and I wrote the Days over several weeks for them to explain the whole story of their mother and me. (explained in The Days, epilogue)
- Last month, we were reunited for the first time. While it’s wonderful to be back in their lives, I find out that history is about to repeat, as Georgia is very much like her mom. (Covered in The New Frontiers)
In the past month since reuniting with “my kids”, I’ve been forced to navigate between my obligation to the kids, loyalty to myself and my own family, and the memory and last wishes of a woman now 9 years gone. Georgia, upon finding out the full story of her mother, myself and the mistakes made by all parties involved, has distanced herself from her father and grandmother. For better or worse, she has told me that I am, and have always should have been, her father. More so, she, at the tender all knowing age of 18, has decided to marry a 24 yr old Mainland Chinese foreigner who I have no idea if he’s even a Canadian citizen. Finally, as her “one, true dad”, it is my responsibility and duty to give her away at her sudden rush wedding in September.
Damn it. I hate it when people know how much importance I place duty and honor as part of my life. I hate it when my beliefs in modern Chivalry are tested at such extremes. More so, I believe she has a point. Georgia in another world and time, should have been my daughter. She should have been the little girl I’ve always wanted to raise, and be there for her first day at school, her first date and first night at the prom. In her, I see so much of her late mother, and while I have no regrets of the life lived thus far, I do wonder about that path not chosen.
I don’t believe for a second that this is right. I didn’t earn the right to be her dad. I’m not the natural father who did all of those crucial life events with her, but the past is forged with heavy chains that hold us all still. My love’s ex-husband still refuses to talk to me, and so far as I can tell, wants me to deal with this mess. The grandmother is not an ally either in this matter, as she’s been cast out with her son-in-law. Making matters worse, she still bitterly despises me for my part in the choices that eventually led to her daughter’s death. Terry, well, he’s a great 20-yr old kid who may know his sis too well, and has advised me on when not to push it too much.
In the end, the choice has been left to me, and I’ve been undecided long enough. September is coming up fast. Friends who have followed The Days have been advising me, and I came to a conclusion finally. But it was a conclusion I probably always knew would have to be.
This is wrong. Period. And 20 minutes before I started writing, I told her. (She’s not a happy camper.)
Probably not to the surprise of anyone despite sage counsel, I will NOT step away. I will not get into a family war, or be the cause of one like before. But until either her father or Georgia smartens up, or hopefully both, I will support her in any decision that will give her time to properly live a little bit first. If she moves in with the guy, and I get a proper chance to know him, I might even consider giving her away, but ONLY if there’s no hope of reconciliation between her father and herself and I’m satisfied that they’re in it for honest reasons.
All those years ago, extreme choices I made led us all into a place that I could have never imagined possible. Subsequent choices that my 1st love made, turned a tale of lovers lost into an outright Greek tragedy. That was the beginning of a cycle of hurt, of sorrow and lost chances. I can’t let this cycle repeat with her daughter. I won’t. She needs to be free of this legacy of what us, her mom, her dad and myself did.
More so, I need to be free. I just want a fresh start with T & G. Is that really too much to ask?
To Georgia, my beloved goddaughter, this is my decision and my reasons.
I fully believe that any marriage in the here and now, is a mistake, and is a decision based partially on defiance and maybe even anger against the sins of your late mother and your fathers…. both of us.
I WILL support you in any way I can to live a little, travel a little. In the semester to come as you study law, why not consider moving in with him for a little bit. If it’s honestly love, and one worth pursuing, then what’s the harm of a little time to give you a chance to study and live. I need to be assured that he is a good man and this is something that has an honest chance, and that’s something I don’t have right now. I’ve known him for 2 1/2 hours in real face to face time, and to put it honestly, all I want to do right now is to “grab the proverbial shotgun” and chase him off.
I love you. I always have. I am proud of your achievements. You remind me so much of your mother, my heart honestly aches with the pain of loss and sweet memory.
But I can’t support a mistake, especially one without your true dad at the altar. Georgia, I will be a part of the solution, not one that continues the cycle of mistakes and anger. There may be no hope between your dad, your grandmother or me, as too much has happened. But there’s always hope for you and them, and they acted always to protect and guide you.
Think about it. I’ll be here for you.
“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” – Forrest Gump
“The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.” – Rob Norton on Unintended Consequences in Economics
I know I haven’t posted anything in a week, but after writing “The Days” and the subsequent events that followed as a direct result, I was a bit emotionally drained. As you can tell, I tend to put a lot of myself in my writing, so I had to take a little break to recharge.
There’s definately going to be more to come with an upcoming reunion in just over 2 months, and so on. The kids, as you read in the next expansion of this ongoing tale, The New Frontiers, have read the blog and just saw literally a huge chunk of their lives completely redefined at the core. They’re… well… definately in shock, and I’m giving them some time to process it all. I don’t foresee a new post on the Frontiers until after the reunion, but there’s been quite a bit of little things here and there in the background, so here’s to answer the questions I’ve gotten the most in the past month since I started the Days.
Why did you really write this?
I tried to explain why in the Epilogue, and the main reason was to give the kids the full background on their mom and me and how the whole mess came to be. More importantly, this really was a tale that just had to be told. I’m seeing them soon, and if you know me, I’m a decent storyteller, but I know my writing has always been better than my spoken word.
But more importantly, it was the anniversary of her passing, and these were things that very few of even my closest friends knew about. Because of the strange irregular nature of our relationship, and the different schools, distance and more, everyone I know had a piece of the story, but no one had it all.
Are Terry & Georgia going to be in your life from here on?
I really don’t know. It’s still new to me to have them back, but not as the small children I remember. They’re coming into adulthood now, but they know so little of their mom except of what their dad and grandparents have told them and of course childhood memories. After the reunion to come, this whole relationship could expand and grow, or come to a crashing halt.
As for my own feelings on the matter, I really do care for them and I’d love for them to be in my life, and that of my new friends and family here in Calgary. But (and yes, there’s always the but) I’m getting the impression that I might have to consider keeping my distance or even leaving again if it’s for the better good.
This is where the quote I put above, the Law of Unintended Consequences, comes into play. I can’t believe how I, a trained economist, completely disregarded this. It’s a canon practically for us, as a good economist is supposed to be able to foresee the possible consequences for any action. I really didn’t see this coming, though in hindsight it’s so obvious.
I started a war. Yes, I knew going into this that I considered the possibility of their father and I might get into some sort of conflict. What I DIDN’T see was that I might have possibly split their family apart into armed camps. Terry isn’t even talking to his father now. Georgia, thank heavens, is trying to work out a truce, but it’s not easy as she’s angry herself. There has been so many stories told about me over the years, as it looks like my old friend and the grandparents still blame me for HER accidental death. Now the truth is out, and the kids are … I’m not sure.
All I do know is, I don’t want to be the one that could split a family as well, or more importantly, her family.
How did the Kids find you?
Heh. This is an interesting thing. They didn’t find me a few months ago. They found me almost 2 YEARS ago on Facebook and other social media sites.
They’ve been watching me all of this time to gauge if the stories they’ve been told are true. What they’ve found is a guy who loves his friends, his family and great food…. lots and lots of food. I’ve been told that the story of their decision to contact me is something epic as well, and I can’t wait to hear.
I’m talking to them. That’s all that can be done. I’m here to give them advice and my love.
I’ve been asked by a local filmmaker to consider making a draft screenplay. Yes? No? I’m not ready right now in my mind, and I don’t have the time to commit anyways. But if anything I’ve learned from this whole mess, never say never.
Anything to note?
My wife has gone way beyond the call of duty on this one. I can’t imagine it was fun watching your husband write about another woman. She’s also the one who’s been advising me to take it a little more carefully with the kids. She’s going to stay at arms’ length for now and see where it goes before she gets directly involved. I can’t thank her enough for her advice, and most importantly, her patience and understanding.
Heh, and also, when I told my mom about the upcoming reunion, her first words to me weren’t “That’s great” or “How wonderful”. They were, “Are you being sued (by her family)?” Such a Mom thing to say. Thanks Mom for the giggle, and love you.
So that’s enough for now. I’ve got a few interesting tales from London, England (as a 14 yr old), a few Spy cases to tell from recent years, and how my horrific mandarin in Taiwan made a situation really, really weird.
And more importantly, take a look at www.YYCBurgerweek.com. I’m one of the founders, and it’s burgers for a great cause.
See you in the funny papers.
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.
“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.
“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
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 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.
“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.
(Before reading this entry, please note that those of you who are staunch believers in a faith might be offended. As my entry is not intended to offend, but inform and enlighten, I do understand entirely if you choose to ignore this post or even cut me off. Anything I state below really is simply my thoughts on what I believe in now, and why I feel that the path I’ve chosen is the one right for me.)
“A religion is sometime a source of happiness, and I would not deprive anyone of happiness. But it is a comfort appropriate for the weak, not for the strong. The great trouble with religion – any religion – is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak certainty of reason- but one cannot have both.” – Robert Heinlein, Friday
While I was planning on writing something fun, with the latest events rocking the Catholic Church, from the revelations of the rapist priests of Los Angeles, to the sudden resignation of the top UK priest for sexual abuse, and now the resignation of the Pope due to a possible sex scandal and not the reasons so stated as poor health, I just couldn’t get my mind off of this.
I was born Catholic. Raised to love the Church of God and revere the faith as something unknowable, unquestionable and the way to find hope in the afterlife. Through my life as a Quebecois kid, I went from St-Ignatius to Loyola High without skipping a beat, serving the church in one way or another. I genuinely loved being an altar boy, a choir singer, a defender of the Bible and would admittedly even read the Old Testament for fun in between my copies of the Amazing Spider-Man and Batman. Heck, my favorite secret graphic novel as a child wasn’t compilations of the Avengers, or Star Wars, but the life and times of Jesus Christ.
But then I was introduced to Robert Heinlein, The Amazing Randi, Secular Humanism, and the episode “Dead Run” from the 1980s Twilight Zone. The seeds of doubt were planted.
With each passing year, I found myself questioning the lessons given to me, those that I was supposed to follow without question. I found that gay people were not the spawn of evil (maybe of fashion and dance trends though), that women are very much the equal measure of men, and that there are far too many people that oppress their neighbours in the name of whatever deity was theirs to believe.
But more importantly, when I admitted I am pro-choice, I was confronted with a single question by a devout person, “What kind of Catholic are you?” And at that moment, the last of any such illusions faded from my sight. I wasn’t one. Not anymore. Too many rapes of children by the clergy. The Magdalene sisters. The extreme right using the Bible to justify their beliefs, and picking which quotes best suited their purpose. The coming of a Pope, a former Nazi, and someone who condoned and hidden the corruption of the church. The truth behind Mother Teresa. Father Ritter of Covenent House being a child abuser. Those and so many many more events, and I found that I was genuinely embarassed, even disgusted to have ever called myself a Catholic.
Since then, with the absence of belief in Catholicism, I found that the rest of the tenets of Christianity was not much further behind. The same arguments given by religious men on the existence of a God, also pretty much applies to a Polytheism approach to religion. There’s no more proof in the reasons for there being a God, than there is believing in a pantheon of Gods. Why is a belief in God any more real than one of Hinduism (dating back to 5500 BC to today), or in Zeus/Jupiter (1000BC to 300AD) or Xenu (Scientology) for that matter? Every argument given to me has been given and demanded and hounded and repeated to me from the other’s faith-based point of view. But having have had that same point of view once, I’ve realized that such thoughts hold no more meaning to me now than the story of Little Red Riding Hood, a fairy tale meant for children. And there I stood… a believer in the supernatural no longer.
Three years ago, when I finally had the bravery to state to my family that I had become an Atheist, I wrote this in my former blog as my statement of belief. As I read it now, I find that I believe this so much more in the present, than I ever could have as my prior self. In these words, I have no regret, and only joy in the time to come:
“This is it… I believe in the joy of a sniffer of cognac when looking out into a lightning filled sky with Miles sweetly playing in the background. I believe in the laughter of my nephews when they play in the sun. I believe in the joyous taste of a superbly made foie gras across a piece of freshly made baguette. I believe in the rapture of having seen Crosby score that gold medal winning goal, or the determined satisfaction of a job well done when my friend Randy lifted the Grey Cup over his head. I believe that Tim Horton’s is superior to Dunkin’ Donuts any day, and McDonald’s will probably outlast all corporations by generations. “
“I believe in the silent contented grin of my sweetheart on a quiet night on the sofa, and the pure gaze of love between my brother David and his wife Jennifer as they sat across from me. I believe in the thrill of my paddle blade slicing through the water as the Red Eyes approach the finish line. I believe that I am a good man, and my moral choices are right for me, and no one has the right to impose their own morality on me, just as I don’t have the right to impose on them. I believe that when it matters most, I will be there for those who need me to be their knight.
And I believe that my friends and my family are my single greatest source of strength no matter the circumstances.
In the end, that’s all I really do need to believe in. What about you?”