I am still using things she left behind – kitchen cleaning materials, hairspray, cheap, pink, nail varnish remover. The reminders come less often than they used to, but still about once a week her note will catch my eye – ‘Love you, mum! (and dad)’ – a yellow post-it stuck in an unobtrusive place on the wall that I don’t want to remove. Or I’ll smile at the door hanger she gave Martin for Fathers’ Day as I pass his study in the hall: ‘DAD IS…. DOING DAD THINGS’
This week last year the world turned on it’s head for the young lady we thought was going to be our daughter-in-law: with 10 days to go, Sam changed his mind and called off their wedding. It’s not very pleasant to recall such traumatic times and I’m sure Jess won’t thank me if she reads this post… yet, look how far we have all come since then. Look how far you’ve come, Jess, since landing back on your sister with a chest infection, carrying all your worldly possessions (read excess baggage) in three bulging suitcases (not counting the one that got lost on the Greyhound)!
It wasn’t the homecoming we’d hoped or planned for. There were arguments, an escape plan, a road trip, dodgy characters, unfulfilled promises – and all the money got spent. I can’t imagine what you went through, living in motels and borrowed rooms, going through another round of rejection, trying to find a place to give you the time of day back in your Pennsylvania home. I’m not too sure but reading between the facebook lines after a couple of moves, I think you are now finally living back in Pittsburgh and have a job, an income – even if it is night-time telesales – even if you still have trouble with your room-mates. You do sound happier, despite the continuing dirth of family affection; you’ve somehow got through the hell of rejection and we still exchange messages sometimes. You’ve managed to forgive Sam, find your feet, get some stuff together, perhaps make a new home – you were good at that. We still thank you for buying Sam’s kittens, now cats, that keep him company – though it seemed madness at the time! We still acknowledge we wouldn’t have taken the plunge to buy his house unless you had been in the picture: we have much to thank you for. I still pray for you, miss you and hope you get your hearts desire one day – some little dogs to worship and breed. As you said, I will always be your mum.
But it’s a year – we got the keys on 30th September 2011 and Sam has been in 8c for a whole year, though Jessa never got to share it. We put her on a flight back to the US 48 hours before her 6 month visa expired – on 10th October: it was the very day she should have become Mrs Dyer junior. Poor girl! But it was undoubtedly for the best in the end… That last week was hellish, as she refused to stay in the abandoned flat they’d shared, now stripped of all the comforting things she’d collected to make it into a love nest. The night before our early start we managed to get her and her stuff to our house so she could get packed in time – taking everything she could with her, having nothing else to her name. That’s where all the ‘housekeeping money’ went! Charity shop clothes, jewellery, false nails – everything a girl could buy in Poundland. I don’t resent any of it and the cheap, pink nail varnish remover that didn’t make the cut is still proving very useful. Perhaps when it runs out it will be easier to put it all behind us; perhaps with time the pain recedes and we can remember the good bits. I think so, I hope so, I always told her it would be alright in the end and the God she doesn’t believe in will look out for her.
What is love? Our actions in adopting a new daughter, taking her to our family bosom? The pain I still feel at having to be separated again? Jessa had and has part of my heart, despite all the difficulties. We did our best for her for Sam’s sake – and actually, also for her sake. Maybe we did her some lasting good, showed her what love is… At the very least it was an unforgettable 6 months, an extraordinary experience, a huge challenge – heart-rending and eye-opening. We’ll always have Menorca and barbecues in the garden.
Jess was a big part of Sam’s journey. She was his friend a long time before she bought the one-way plane ticket in April 2011, kept him going through some tough months in 2010. Looking at it from his point of view, he certainly left it a bit late to finally finally decide whether it would last a lifetime – having veered from happiness to unhappiness, willingness to sacrifice, hopefulness to prevarication. But that late decision on 1st and 2nd October last year was better than an unhappy permanent coupling. Instead he’s been able to concentrate on his health, spending 2 months in Canada taking concentrated hemp oil for its apocryphal anti-cancer properties, and on return spending hours with his acupuncturist energy healer friend. He’s been enjoying his independence and the loneliness is mitigated by his two cats. Between happy hours playing with them he has been kept focussed by trying to set his ostensible on-line business – internet access and computer ownership permitting. He has his household routine nailed, his budget set – he’s definitely been growing up and becoming more emotionally whole.
Bless you, son, you have tried so hard and done so well – tried everything you could lay your hands on! From George Miller’s prayer to Kris Kraft, via the doomed Jessican love affair and Angela’s media splash, to Hutch’s herbal brain tumour medicine and Dean seeing you on ITV, offering his services, becoming your best buddy… Through it all we are still praying for God’s mercy and a miracle.
The tearing and the gradual healing – a year in the life. There is more to come.