Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dear Kelsey, Part IV

I've made a couple of false starts with this year's letter and finally decided I'd just write it as though I were having a long distance phone call to my now 26-year old daughter, and we were having an adult conversation.  I decided I'd write just like I would talk to you if you were healthy and relatively content, because one thing, and about the only thing, I know for sure is that you are finally free of your eating disorder.  With that being determined, here is what I would like to say:

I wish I had brought you here to Pittsburgh, but I confess that I'm not sure it has been the best thing for your sister.  I can't tell about your dad.  Sometimes I think he's okay here.  Other days, I wonder...   And I think I feel that way because it is that way:  somedays he likes the opportunities for things to do here, the fact it's hit 90 degrees only once so far, and the simple fact that it's quiet - meaning, there is not a lot of family dynamic drama to distress him as he works through his own personal demons.  Other days, I think he misses the old crutches that he had there.  I know being this far from his closest friends is not always easy.

Marissa likes it here, I think, but without the same support system she had in Texas I think there have been some negatives that cause me to worry.  I'd probably ask you to talk to her, maybe.  Honestly, the fact that you're not here to do just that is part of the irony of the whole thing.  She  misses you and needs you now, so she has to find an outlet for all that longing.  If you had beaten your demons, I'd ask you to help her beat hers, but of course if you had beaten them, she might not be struggling.  Around and around we go...

I'm sure we'd gossip a bit about the family.  Who knows what my relationship would have been with them if you were still around.  Chances are pretty good I would not have come completely off my nut and alienated your aunt.  I'm not really in like flint with your uncle these days for reasons we might discuss.  I know you loved your family deeply, so I have no idea actually where you would come down in that debate.  What I can tell you is that people grossly overestimated both my fiscal and emotional resources after your grandmother Bleiler died.  I couldn't be present on any level for anybody.  I'm not exactly the Rock of Gibraltar now.  I can take care of myself pretty well, but I find it hard still to be present for others, particularly if they think I "owe" them some obligation.  But, I know my estrangement hurts Marissa.  I would assume it would be problematic for you too, and I regret that.  A lot.  Like I said, who knows what the situation would be if you were just living in Seattle, let's say.  A lot of things would have happened very differently, that's for sure.  But, don't take that as a rebuke.  Different is not the same as saying better.  And my relationship, or lack of one, with your father's family is not your responsibility, in either life or death.

Of course, if we were having a conversation, I would ask you how you are.  I am sure that would be an awkward moment during the call because, try as I might to make it sound casual and light, there would be a shadow of worry and concern, maybe even suspicion, in the underlying tone.  And you would know it.  You'd likely resent it when I asked it, but you'd be pissed if I didn't.    Mother-daughter conversations are always laced with little emotional traps.  Ours probably would be a veritable minefields.  Two passionate personalities, I guess.  But, I'd both want to know the real truth and not want to know it, just to be honest.    One thing I can tell you that I know about myself:  I'm not as strong as I like to tell myself I am.  I'm not sure, if you were to come back and respond that you were struggling still with The Beast, that'd I'd have any mental resources left to throw at it.  And, while I'm not rifling through the change jar to buy groceries any more, I'm not sure how we'd tackle the extreme financial cost of ED at this point either.  I'd have to figure out how to respond in that case if the news was bad so that I didn't offend or alienate you, but that would be hard to do because you'd be sensitive and aware of all of those things.  If the answer was genuinely positive, I'm sure I throw up a silent prayer of thanks, but it would only be temporary until the next time we spoke and the question came up.  I think the reality of the situation is that I would be forever half expecting that horrible disease to reclaim you, or at least for a lot of years to come.

I can tell you I hate it as I hate very few things.  I read yesterday that a 25 year-old woman committed suicide after a long struggle with ED.  She just couldn't do it anymore.  I know you felt the same way.  So one more promising life ended abruptly at the hands of that awful disease that won't go down in the record books as being directly related to it.  But you and I both know what a killer ED is.  I should have fought it harder and better for you.  I am so sorry.  You'll just never know exactly how sorry I am.  But, even if I had, would it have been enough?  Does pondering that even matter?  It doesn't, and almost all of the days of the year I know that, but today is not one of them.  June 20 is probably always going to be the day I wonder what would have happened if I had done just a little bit more a little bit better...just so you know.


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