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The Reality of 4-EVER

Cape Hatteras at Daybreak

CAPE HATTARAS AT DAYBREAK by Jim Dollar Photography

I step out of the shower and look down at the painter’s helper, a little stool with a handhold cut in the middle.  It used to be hers.  Here it sits, in another woman’s house – just as it sat in storage at yet another woman’s.  My mind travels over the times, touches on the visual memories of how it was, what it went through, what it was used for and saw in the home that I shared with her.  The home that I shared with my Denise.  Soon, it will be four years since she left me.  Four years since she died and left me to deal with the kind of unrequited love that we people are destined to when we can not stop our love for one who still holds onto our hearts from the beyond.

I don’t know what this thing called love is, much less what this thing called “unconditional love” is, much less this kind of love and pain that reaches from beyond the grave to wrap around my heart and knock it around with some sort of never-ending comfort/pain/knowingness.

I want to be over her.  Sometimes, I want to be free of her.  Sometimes, I want a break from the pain and the tragedy that she and I became.

I say it over and over and over again:  “If she were here, if she were still alive, I know that she and I wouldn’t be together.”  It’s the truth.  A sad truth, but truth nonetheless.  For you see, I’ve grown since her death.  I’ve become the independent woman that she wanted me to be.  The kind of woman who would never continue tolerating the kind of abuses that her alcoholism and drug abuse put me through.

I’m not one of those people who makes others into saints just because they’ve died, just because they are no longer capable of making the kind of huge fuck-ups that we all manage to accomplish while we are traversing this rocky road that being alive is.  Death doesn’t erase our mistakes.  What we are/were, remains.

No, I WANT to remember her in her pure humanness.  All of her flawed beauty thoroughly intact.  After all, if she were perfect, if she hadn’t struggled, how would I justify the ways in which I failed her?  How could I stand my own imperfections?

None of us are supposed to be perfect.  Our cracks and scars are a part of what make us unique.  They map out the places we have traveled through, where and what we have been, the dirt and calluses on our feet bearing testament to our effort in climbing up the steep cliffs, taking the falls upon the sharp rocks that are always waiting below when we slip from our attempts to top the mountains of trial that are always before us.

And slip she did!  Just like me, she had parents who were deeply troubled.  Just like me, she had a childhood that shouldn’t have been visited upon anyone.  Just like me, she started off way behind the mark as life dealt her challenges that no person should have to bear.  Especially no person who is a little, tender-hearted, sensitive child.  Like me, she felt things so deeply that, at times, it was too much to bear.

Is this why I love her so, still?  Is she simply a reflection of myself?  I see this in almost every person, features of my own self looking back at me through the universal mirror of the eyes of others.

There were so many parallels of her life and my own.  Ridiculed by others for different reasons, I escaped into the books that dyslexia only served to make mere mocking, further dysfunctions for her.  She escaped into violence, and into alcohol.  I created worlds, even people, inside my mind, into which I escaped.  She made lines of white powder and snorted them up her nose so that she could skew her perception of her world into something bearable.

I used to get so angry when she was alive with me!  I would get so angry when she wouldn’t TRY to get better!  I wanted to be worth it.  I wanted US to be worth it.  I wanted her to know that SHE WAS WORTH IT!!

She didn’t believe it.  She didn’t feel it.  I don’t think she ever felt it.

Wherever she is now, if anywhere, I hope she understands, knows, at last, that she is worth it.  So what if she was transgendered?  So what if she was dyslexic?  So what if she was alcoholic, drug-addicted and bi-polar?  It makes her no less wonderful, no less a miracle for surviving as long as she did – and all the while, her tender heart intact, as covered over with bravado as it was.

I knew her.  In her glory.  In her failures.  In her humanness.

And I loved her.  Love her still.  Am as trapped as any trapped person has ever been.

We are intertwined, she and I.  In the awfulness and the wonderfulness of living and dying.  So, I guess that what I need to come to terms with is a simple acceptance of it.  An acceptance of the fact that when I was born, a part of her was already born into the history that would become the events of my life.  A part of her was born into me as my light came on in this world.  She was always, even before I met her, a part of what fueled my light.

For, if she is a part of the darkness and pain that has been brought to my self here, in this world, she is also, most definitely a part of my light and if it is evermore in no way except to burn the fuel that is me – – shine Denise Ansley!  SHINE!

Further Musings On Denise’s Death

…And More

…And Ever More Musings


Dedicated to: My Denise

Jim Dollar PhotographyThanks for your beautiful photographs – and all of the other beauty that you’ve lent my life.

Posted in My Denise, My Loves and Lovers.

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2 Responses

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  1. Mike Bernier says

    Deneen, your words resonate with me like nothing else you’ve posted. As you know, I lost my 15-year-old son in an accident this past June, and while he was not as troubled as Denise he still had his own challenges to deal with. He was a very driven individual, a fierce competitor in school and a dedicated musician in band. His dream was to be class valedictorian and to go on to study at Harvard; he was already second in his class, and he went so far as to arrange for his last set of test scores to be sent to the university (he never knew how well he did; the scores were published about a month after his death…and he did extremely well on three out of four exams). But, he also had a tender side that I could see, a side that showed how vulnerable he really was. He could have had his pick of girlfriends, but he was painfully shy and kept a lot of his feelings inside (sound familiar?).

    When he died, a part of me died with him. But another part of me lives on and carries the memories of him, memories I am slowly committing to paper and hope to finish writing someday. He has been gone only a short time compared to Denise, but like you I am growing and learning from the experience of having him in my life for almost 16 years. I can already feel the changes in my perceptions and attitudes on life and family, and I know there will be many more as time continues to pass. My son’s influence on my life, and the lives of his family and friends, has been greater than we could have ever imagined, and I can only hope that we all will continue to learn and grow while keeping his memory alive, much like you have done with your memories of Denise.

  2. Yvonne says

    There is forever a sadness for what might have been, but wasn’t. This is probably the major factor in being unable to “let go”. How many times do you find yourself thinking, if not saying, “If only….”? The 5th of this month marked nine years since my first love left this earthly world. And although we had not been a couple for several years prior to that, I had always envisioned a close relationship later in life. But Death has a way of circumventing visions. The bad news is you will always have that empty spot in your heart that no one can fill or erase. The good news is you do learn to live a full and productive life, even with that empty place.

    Mike,

    My heart hurts for your loss. Being a parent myself, I have always felt the most tragic thing that could happen to me is the loss of one of my children (and now grandchildren). When you get your memories committed to written words, I would love the opportunity to get to know your son thru your remembrances. As long as there is someone left on earth to remember, a person lives eternally.



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