Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dear Kelsey, Part V

My Dearest Kelsey,

I cannot quite believe this is the fifth of these letters I will have written you.  Five letters I wish I never had to write.  In some ways this year's letter is the hardest since the first one.  There are several reasons for that, I guess.  You've been missed as a vital member of the family at some big events during the past year:  some happy, some tragic, but all bringing to mind that as we weave the tapestry of our lives there is a hole in the fabric that we just can't quite mend, try as we might.  But, really, for me at least, there is a shadow over everything since the troubled young man who was with you the day you died, four years ago today, wrote to your sister a few weeks ago.  I have to address it because I've held it in, for the most part, since Marissa read it out loud to us, tears streaming down her face.  That horrible diatribe that seemingly came out of nowhere about how we abandoned and betrayed you, leaving you to die with no one but his family to care about you.  I went numb on that particular day and thought to shut it out:  to consider the source and let it go as the rantings of a traumatized addict.  And I think that is true for the most part.  I realized immediately that he was speaking through the voice of The Beast.  The things he was saying were the things that you would have said to him in the throes of your disease.  But, that's the thing: even the most horrible of fictions carry a grain of truth to them.  He never would have thought to write some of the things he did if you had not have said them to him.  And so, try as I might to shut his words out, the thought that your dying thoughts were of how we left you alone to die and how you hated us have haunted me.   The mountain I've worked to climb has given way underneath my feet.  But, it's not for me that I am about to tell you what I am about to tell you:  my worry since the beginning is that, wherever you are, you find peace.  Some will read this and say if I had more faith, then I would know and take comfort.  Perhaps, but I will just tell you in all candor that I would feel so much better if God would just let you drop me a line and let me know you're okay.  I still feel I "hear" you through your music sometimes, but I just want to know that, if your life was the sacrifice you had to make to get rid of the disease, that it didn't crossover with you.  And, as a bonus, I would like to know that you understand and forgive us.  Because, we do live with the guilt of knowing that, as hard as we tried, we didn't do enough in the end to save you.  But I think you didn't quite realize what we did do and what sacrifices we did make.  The eating disorder, at the end of the day, was just stronger than all of us combined.  And I realized when Marissa read that hateful message that it lives on even though its precious host does not.

The thing I want you to realize is that as parents we don't stop being human beings, which means we're flawed.  I remember being almost paralyzed with fear when you were little because I was so scared I would do or say the wrong thing to you because I was so acutely aware that I had an impressionable human being in my charge.  I would analyze what I said and did to make sure I did it correctly.  Of course, very often I did not, so I would pray that you were pliable enough to forgive the transgression and remember the good things over the bad.  They all add up, though, both the good and the bad, to make us what we are when we're adults.  What I would have hoped for us is that, before you had your turn as a parent, we could have talked about all of that and you could have seen us, your father and me, for what we are, imperfect people who simply love you the best way we know how.  Don't accept that now for our sakes.  I have come to realize that forgiving one's parents for all their faults is the only real way to be at peace with yourself.

But, here is what I really want to say to you:  you were not the eating disorder.  Do not take it with you wherever you are.  You were so much more than that.  I've said some of this before, but it bears repeating.  You were an amazing artist.  You were smart and articulate, even if that could come over as a bit bossy and judgmental.  You could be hard to take in large doses as a result, but your desire to learn and experience life was immense, so I can imagine it was fun for your peers to engage you in intellectual debates, and I always wondered where that would have taken you.  I always thought you'd make a great music critic maybe.  But there was a softer side to you too:  the side I think we all loved the most.  The side that, because of everything you had been through, saw others for what they were, which is more than their disease, and wanted to help them.  The side that loved your extended family and friends.  And your cat of course.  And your sister above all.  Maybe you would have become a therapist - you would have excelled at that.  Certainly no one could understand that kind of suffering more than you.  You were one of a kind.  You were priceless.  I hated the disease, and I know sometimes that must have seemed like I hated you.  I didn't, my darling baby girl.  So far from it.  I loved you so, so much.  Please God, if only I knew that you know that.

Please be at peace now.  We will always love you.  We will always remember you:  the real you.


Your Mom

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