The Catt Box



How did I get through this? I wrote. I wrote my heart and feelings out...all that came to my mind. I listened to a cassette tape, over and over again....Fleetwood Mac's Mirage album. Johnny had taped it for me just before Ron died. It's all I wanted to listen to. I composed a journal on just Ron. Sadly, the first five pages were written while he was still alive. He had just taken me back home from our trip to New York. He had just told me he loved me and I wrote it happy. I was gushing with giddiness over my new-found growing Ron. (I miss you....)

price_accident.jpg (41843 bytes)newspaper_1.jpg (38336 bytes)The newspaper article came out in Harford County about the accident....and Robin brought me a copy of it. It was so sad. If you look closely, you can see part of his face through the in the window inside the truck. It's near the left shoulder of one of the police officers. This was the same truck in which, two days before, Ron told me he loved me. He is resting where I had last sat with him.

I didn't attend the viewing or funeral...I 'don't do' funerals....not me. I can't. If I had seen him in that casket, that would have been exactly how I remembered him for the rest of my life. Instead, I remember his gorgeous smile. And Robin called me afterwards to tell me he was still gorgeous....that you could not see any of where he had been injured. I was relieved to know that. 

I have had past experiences with friends who died, including my father...and if I see them dead, that's it....that's the image I take with me. So, Robin went to the viewing...and remember the hair of mine that was ripped out in the car accident?....Robin put it in the casket with Ron. She had taken it down and saved it when she cleaned out her car after the wreck. 

I couldn't ever remember feeling so 'blank'....did I stop living, too? I was numb...going through the motions. Everything seemed so pointless and trivial to me. Everything lost importance. 

People kept telling me to 'get it out of my mind' 'stop thinking about it'.....don't get me started on those people. If I need to cry, I will cry. I'll grieve the way I need to grieve. 

After the visits from friends became less frequent, I began to write my feelings down in a journal. I wrote 69 pages of my feelings. When I wrote down all that there was for me to write, I put Ron's picture, the newspaper articles, the journal, and a poem that I wrote for him in a little plastic 'report cover'....and I gave them to Robin to keep for me. I couldn't read it yet. I hadn't read a word of it in 18 years....hadn't seen Ron's picture in 18 years....hadn't cried for him in 18 years.....I had not laid eyes on all of that since I was 27 years old. 

I obviously had gotten on with my life...I loved again, several times, and I've been married for 15 of those 18 years. When I would speak of Ron to someone it was as though this horrible thing had happened to someone else, and not me. I had buried it so deep. And every August I get a little sad. Every August 13th I remember that it was the first in a string of bad weekends....weekends that led up to his death.

I think that what added to the pain was that our relationship was still very 'unrealistic' when it ended. It was still perfect, which makes it more painful. Nothing had shattered the illusion of perfection yet. And I knew then, as I know now, that had he lived...he would have hurt me, let me down, disappointed me. That is reality...that's what everyone goes through. But when you are still in that 'perfection' state, it's harder to give up. There was nothing in our short-lived relationship to balance the scales. It was surreal.

Not long ago I was talking to Robin and asked her if she still had the journal that I had written. She did. And she said she'd dig it out and send it to me. Les and I talked about it....and I expected to be a little sad...maybe shed a few tears...

Reading that journal would be like a time capsule to me....I was 27 years old....Who was I?....What did I think about?....How did I get through this?....How have I grown since then?...What memories did I choose to write down?....How will I feel about reading this?....

It arrived on January 13th, 2001 and I was not prepared for what it did to me. I was 'there' again...I felt all the pain...all the love...all the memories...and I couldn't stop crying for two days. That's when I decided to share it with you. This will be included in my book, in greater detail, but I wanted you to know what this does to someone. This had a profound impact on my life...and it's worth the read. 

And, just like they did 18 years ago, Robin and Johnny were 'there for me' to grieve Ron....all over again. We've talked on the phone for hours, several times....I have comfort in other friends, too....but Robin and Johnny were there....they were my best friends...and they were friends with Ron years before I met him. The three of us grieved together. 

My journal is much more personal...and I spared you of all the personal details...those are mine. But the thoughts I had....and the memories I chose to write about broke my heart. I was so hurt....and I'm still hurt. You never, ever get over something like this. You learn to cope, you accept it, you deal with it, you go on, you live around it...but you never get over it. 

When something like this happens, what do you do with the love? Where do you put it? It's there....and if someone isn't around to change your feelings, how do you 'un-love' them? My love for Ron is still full in my heart....right next to the terrible pain of his loss...and I can't think of one without the other....

In an exchange of email the other day, a friend made an observation in her own life and loss of a loved one that I observed in my own....I can't remember his voice...I can't remember his laughter, but I do remember the way he made me feel about myself...and I do remember how I felt about him. Maybe it's too painful in my own mind to remember the other things.

Our love was cut down while it was still growing...while it was still perfect...flawless....exciting. I was left behind to sit and hold all this wonderful love, and not be able to express it anymore. I say 'I love you', now, but he doesn't hear me....he was supposed to be sitting in front of me when I said it. Please don't write and tell me that he hears's not the same thing.

Since then, I made a promise that no one would pass through my life without me telling them how I feel. So, if you catch me telling you what you mean to me...if I do a 'cyber hug'.... you'll know that Ron taught me to do that. I never want another person to slip through my fingers without them knowing how I feel about them.

As I wrote in my journal...and as I re-read it recently...I saw where my feelings changed....from joy and excitement, to shock and disbelief, to a calmed acceptance of his sudden death. I worked through all of this with my writing. And I'm doing that now. And you know what? hurts just as bad now as it did then....only this time I was spared the shock of learning about his death.

I wanted to step out of the world for a while and slip back in unnoticed...when I was ready. Not when my friends thought I was ready, but when "I" was ready. For a while I had lost all reasons in the world for being Cathy Palmer. I was taking just one step at a time to let go of Ron...and people were rushing me. They did it then, and a few have tried to do it now....

I had to find MY OWN acceptance....and find my own reasons for going on. I had to learn to laugh again, and I still remember not recognizing my own laughter when I did. I needed to find my own reasons to smile....not because someone else told me to.

I changed my clothes, I took my nail polish off, I changed my bed sheets, I changed the dial on the radio again, I took a bath, I brushed my teeth...and Ron was moving further from me as I performed each necessary task. 

The curiosity burns in me as to what Ron so desperately wanted to talk to me about. I will never know. 

Ron restored my faith in men heart was opened for love...and I did love him. He taught me to 'trust' again. What I lost with him did not destroy me completely. I never loved like that again, but I did have it...I did feel it...and though I lost it, I never regretted it.

It was hard for me to look at the pictures I scanned in for this story...I was so innocent in the face of the impending pain that was yet to come. I had just left a nightmare relationship and wanted to get on with my life. In those pictures of myself, there is no way of knowing what waited ahead in such a short time. 

Robin and I slowly got back into our routine of going out to the Lighthouse Inn....that was 'our place'....and we loved it there and still talk about all the good memories we still have. We spoke very few times of Ron...I buried him deep in my heart, and safe from my mind. I went on with my life...

But I did have one last thing to say to him when I wrote my journal....this is on the next and final page.....


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August and September 1982 and January 22, 2001 Copyright Cathy Palmer - Scruggs / Catt Alexander


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