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 down....so happy. I was gushing
with giddiness over my new-found love...my growing romance...my Ron. (I
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
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
People kept telling me to 'get it
out of my mind'....to '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
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 me....it'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?...it 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 again...my
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.....