I? Am struggling.
It makes sense, I suppose. As my friend Katherine reminded me, just yesterday, I'm not SuperWoman. I'm just normal. I truly believe it is normal to have some kind of sadness when someone you used to love, someone who you used to be married to and had children with, dies.
What I didn't expect, though, was the anger.
The blinding, horrifying rage.
The rage that doesn't make sense. I hadn't seen nor heard from this man in more than ten years. Every interaction we had between 1997-2000 was extremely unpleasant. I was, dare I admit this? Happy when he stopped calling. Happy when he just went away and didn't bother anymore. Happy that I didn't have to bother anymore. Happy that I didn't have to share my kids with someone whose feelings about them were pretty questionable.
His death was a shock to me. I knew he had been ill for many years. I did not know the extent of his illness. I still do not know exactly what it was that he died of. My efforts at correspondence with his family have, thus far, been ignored. I expected that. They have always ignored my efforts to keep in touch. Never responded to the cards and letters and pictures I used to send. They blame me. I know that. I even understand that...understand that the way they coped with the horrible things he did was by making it about me and my failings. I understand it. But understanding does not help me.
I had a massive, sobby, painful breakdown because of this. It's all because of fear. Fear that this is heritable. Fear that one of my little children will get sick. Break down. Fall apart.
So I did what I always do. I made the phone calls I needed to make. I got the appointments I needed. I walked into the specialists office and asked her, point blank, what I needed to do to make sure that my children never got this horrible disease.
And she said, "There's nothing you can do."
It was like she was speaking Japanese or some other language I don't understand. Nothing I can do? Has she met me? That didn't even make sense.
So I said again because, clearly, she didn't understand what I was asking, "No, I mean, what do I do? What steps can I take to make sure they don't get sick?"
She looked at me so oddly.
"Stephanie, there's nothing you can do. There is no prevention. There are treatments...but there is no prevention."
There's nothing I can do.
If it's going to happen, it's just going to happen.
I'm not used to there being nothing I can do. I've been in bad situations before. I've been in really, really, really bad places. Just in the past few years I've been on my face before God, crying out in anguish at what things had become. There have been moments when I've looked objectively at what's been going on and thought, "There is absolutely no way through this. This is going to suck forever."
But I always work through it. Not always without help and/or divine intervention. But still. I work through it. I make a list, I get a plan in place, and I get through it. I'm a doer and a planner and a worker and I get through it.
I can't plan this. Can't work through it. Can't prevent this.
I am angry.
I am angry for a million reasons. I am angry because I married him. I am angry because I had children with him (and yes, I know that doesn't make sense because I would never, ever, EVER not want to have them in my life. No matter what). I am angry he didn't take care of himself. I am angry that he didn't even try, not even once, to try to make amends with them. His hatred of me (for what? I don't know) was so great that it overpowered his desire to have any kind of relationship with them. I am not worth that kind of anger. They ARE worth having a relationship with, though, and I'm furious that he didn't bother. Didn't care. That my children WHO MATTER SO MUCH, didn't even matter to him. Not even a little bit.
He was not a nice person. Dying did not make him a nice person. But I am grieving the person he could have been. The father he could have been. The man he could have been.
He didn't love me. The marriage we had wasn't real. It was nothing like what I have with Jason. Nothing even close to the family we have, the love we have, the home we have. I don't remember loving anyone before I loved Jason, because loving Jason is real. I've often referred to Jason as my real husband. My real love. For all his flaws, I know his love is real. I know he adores me...even with all my flaws.
The grief is not about love. I don't know if it's about anger. I don't understand it.
But I am angry. That won't go away. Years ago I wanted better for myself. Then I wanted better for my kids.
What we've been left with is a lot of unanswered questions.
I'll never know the answers.
And I am grieving.