Still my heart is full of love for you; now, tomorrow and always. I will be there for you…and no other.
Do not be concerned. I will not seek you out. The distance you want I will respect, if only to prove my love, though I cry for you as only I can. You see, my Love, we share a common bond unique to us. Tragically, we are inescapable victims of our youth.
Perhaps sometime, dear Donna Theresa, when you have finally put to rest those nightmares from so long ago, a whole new world will open up and you will be free to speak your mind and to love as I love you --- heart and soul and unafraid.
If that be the case or if that be not, who you are is clear to me now, and only just now, for sadly, insight follows no schedule. It simply happens or does not.
I see two children facing each other, both behind masks hiding who they are from the world. Masks talking to masks and neither to each other. I saw the mask and saw rejection, though beneath the cover it didn’t exist. Then when all the emotions of the past, and jumbled messages came crashing in on the moment, two children hiding behind masks misunderstood what each spoke to each other.
I was wrong. I know that now. I was aware of our problem with sexual intimacy and my feelings of rejection. But I didn’t know how to use my awareness. The knowledge was there, the insight was not. My response, particularly the past year has been lousy. For perceived rejections, I rejected, passively resisted…the child’s way.
I apologize for my clumsy ways, my absences and for my reactions and rejections, but mostly, Donna Theresa, for an insensitivity that drove you out of our home before I heard anguish. For all these things, I am sorry Love, and feel horrible … sick to the depths of my being … that it has taken me so long to understand, but in the same breath I thank God for the revelation, and now, for knowing me and you better than anyone has.
The search has been long, sometimes trying, but mostly filled with the wonder of discovery and cuddly moments, and I, if given the chance, would happily start building, with all my love and devotion and newfound understanding. When you are ready, please talk to me.
May 1, 1990 - 2:00am I do not know where you are. You left no note. I want to come to you, to comfort you. I am scared.
May 2, 1990 - What does your absence mean? I’m scared for you, for me, for us both.
May 3, 1990 - What would I do if tonight, while sleeping I felt the bed sag, a warm hand touch my shoulder, and heard your voice saying “Honey, I want to talk.” God, please make it happen.
May 5, 1990 - Midnight. Every night since you disappeared, as I rounded the corner coming home, I’ve looked to see if your car was in the driveway hoping you would be waiting for me. But the driveway has always been as empty as my soul. Come to think of it, I have done that every night for the past ten years worrying you might have left again. I grew accustomed to the stab of pain I felt every night. God, dear God please help me. Please.
May 8, 1990 - “I would go to pieces” you said one evening, hardly two months ago, “if ever we were separated.” Now we are … and I am suffering agonizing pain as though torn apart.
I was touched, taken back, for it was the strongest affirmation of love you’ve ever shared with me.
May 8, 1990 - I remember the first time you told me you loved me. You were 24. We had been dating six months. I expressed my love within weeks of meeting you. Then you told me, “Pres, you are the only person I told I love."
I found it hard to believe and responded, “Well surely you’ve told your parents you loved them.”
“No,” you replied, “I haven’t.”
May 8, 1990 - I miss feeling your fingertips holding mine beneath the pillow as we twine ourselves, putting the day to rest, covering ourselves with tender companionship. I would never let you go to bed alone again. What happened? I would do anything, promise anything, to feel your hair brush my face, to absorb your warmth, to sense your closeness and feel you breathing next to me as I once did falling asleep. Come to me. I love you.
May 15, 1990 10:30pm - I need to know something. Am I being punished? How long does this go on? When is enough, enough? Can I survive? What will be left of me? I am scared.
I’m in a hotel room pacing … time drags. No one to talk to. Painful heart. I do not understand. Rejection. So painful now. I sit here afraid to use the phone. No one calls. No news. A thousand fears.
Blessed death, relieve me of this broken heart. This silence is killing me. Terrible silence. Fifteen years of rejection and “not tonights.” I’ve done the best I could, to be patient, to endure. I am now simply beaten into submission; the ultimate victim of your child abuse.
June 1, 1990, 7:00am - I don’t understand. This guilt is killing me. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others. I want a very permanent solution.
June 1, 1990, 8:00pm – I want to die, Donna Theresa. A couple days ago I didn’t want to live. Now I want to die.
Like, “I want to die.” It’s action oriented. A solution. Something I control. Maybe the only thing in my control. I make the decision on this one. Yes. No. I alone hold the key to the future.
People will say I was chicken-weak, trying to escape. Bullshit. What do they know? It’s a solution. It stops the pain, man. It stops the pain. Gotta think this out. Find the best way.
My friend, Bill, said,“Go ahead, Pres. But remember, death is a very permanent solution.”
Screw you, I thought. Sounds good to me, pal.
June 3, 1990, 11:20pm – The frigging shrink thinks I should write a book. He says I have good insight. Shit. What a bunch of crap. I know, I know, you asked me to write your story and I promised I would. But honestly Honey, I don’t think I’ll ever get to it.
June 4, 1990, 9:00am – A couple times today I caught myself thinking I can fool people into believing I’m okay by just acting normal. But I’m not sure I’m convincing.
June 11, 1990 – Monday. They danced on the wind, deep in the Autumn sky, paused, swayed, then in graceful arcs across the sky above.
Like cookie sprinkles dancing, the kites dipped and soared high above Central Park, lofting, shaking, straining against taut lines, threatening to destroy themselves, weaving and bounding, a circus of color. Clowns playing with clouds.
It was a memory, a trip you and I made long ago to New York. We were dating then, in love --- as I am now. I was courting you, my Love. Pursuing love then, as I have for all these seventeen years. You, the beautiful, soaring kite; me the clown always coming up with an armful of air.
June 16, 1990, 9:00am – I am confused, but alive. I think I’m happy about that. I’ve stopped losing weight. I love chocolate chip cookies. I bought one and ate it.
June 25, 1990, 11:00am – I am depressed today. I spent the weekend with a beautiful, affectionate, so very affectionate lady. It couldn’t have been more wonderful. Yet, even while making love, my thoughts where of you.
June 26, 1990 – I’m in L.A. Business. Visited with an incredibly gorgeous woman, a prospective client. She asked about my depression and listened patiently to my story. When I finished she told me she “understood completely". I was incredulous until she explained she was a sexually abused child too.
We shared the most personal confidences imaginable, detailing the lengths she had gone in an effort to sabotage both her life and her personal relationships, including her marriage.
July 8, 1990, Sunday – My warbling whistle sang Pachelbel in D flat, lifting my spirit, soaring high like a sailing gull above the Pacific. I rejoiced.
October 2, 1990 – Dear Donna Theresa, Pardon my intrusion. I will not trouble you again. I have come to give you one last gift: my life.
Without another word, from behind my back, I draw my magnum357. Feel its weight in my hand. So there can be no accidents, no mistakes, no doubt about my intentions, I am armed with a single bullet.
I know the scenario well. It’s been in my mind for weeks. I’ve reviewed my plan dozens of times. It’s simple. So clear.
Still, sweat darkens my tee-shirt. Fear runs down my spine in rivulets collecting at my belt and my loose hanging Levis.
Without a word, I raise the revolver quickly. I do not want to frighten you Honey. I only want to end the pain. To give you my life forever. Now.
I stick the barrel into my mouth. The steel is cold. My tongue pushes the muzzle upwards against the roof of my mouth, beneath my brains. There’s no hesitation now. No going back. I pull the trigger. I don’t hear the deafening boom. I feel nothing. In a thousandth of a second the impact of the expanding shell lifts brains and skull fragments in a mushrooming spray of smoke, blood and tears. The top half of my head is gone, from eyebrows to ears.
I am free. My soul spills out as my tortured carcass crumples to the pavement at your feet. I survey the scene, separated from my body looking back. My spirit whirls away through a dark tunnel leading to eternity.
I am free. Free. Free at last. Finally. A perfect solution. No more pain. No divorce. Done---forever.
For all eternity, Honey, I love you.
These words, this song, remind me of you so much I can’t get it out of my mind. I’m sure you know it. It’s sung by Beth Midler. It goes:
“It must have been cold there in my shadow
To never have sunlight on your face.
You’ve been content to let me shine.
You always walked a step behind.
I was the one with all the glory’
While you were the one with all the strength.
Beautiful face without a name.
I never heard you once complain.
Beautiful smile that hid the pain.
Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
Everything I would like to be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
Cause you are the wind beneath my wings.
It may have appeared to go unnoticed
But I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth,
I would be nothing without you…”
“Yes, my Love, I am alone, that is -- almost alone. He is with me this night, and I am okay and unafraid of the new year. I hope, and I pray that you are well, I want nothing but happiness for you dear Donna Theresa.”
“Yesterday was your birthday. I was surprised it passed without my awareness.”
“Laying in my hot tub this morning, relaxed, my prayers and Bible reading done, very relaxed, drifting, no thought in mind other than awareness that I should be watchful of the time so as not to miss my flight, when the name I shall call His Foundation popped into mind. I will call it Theresa’s Fund.”
In my dreams last night, the room was white: walls and ceiling. Three chairs, all white, surrounded a white table. In retrospect, it reminds me of our kitchen, the one we completely remodeled while living near the ocean, and did all the work ourselves. I sobbed uncontrollably as we listened to your mother passing judgment upon our marriage, approving the idea you would leave forever.
The rest of the dream was a replay of an actual event that took place ten years ago, around March 14, 1980.
You came home from work and announced, word for word, “I Love you, but I’m leaving.” The exact same line we heard in a movie we attended together three days earlier.
Remember, we went shopping for a bed and refrigerator at Sears? You and your mother wandered off. I sat on the bed you purchased for your new apartment. I was still there when you returned finding tears streaming down my checks. In a lifetime I will never forget the surprise on your face.
“What” you asked “is wrong?”
The fact you didn’t understand that I was heartbroken overwhelmed me. It hurt then. It still does now ten years later.
December 6, 1991 – Florence, Italy – The beautifully preserved Renaissance garden, The Boboli, rises high above the city’s magnificent cathedrals, cobbled streets, ancient bridges and red tiled roofs, and looks out to the haze shrouded mountains beyond. Along the pathway, I met you, or the memory of you, or was it your lingering presence. I stopped. Rooted in place. I turned, facing the city below. I remembered the view, this spot. Somewhere there is a picture of you and me, my arms wrapped around you, holding you close, nuzzling your ear, our backs to the scene to which I am now transfixed. Stepping toward the railing we had once leaned against for balance. I stopped, rejecting the impulse to reach out and touch my hand to the place you once rested upon, the stone balustrade.
My heart sunk. I took a deep breath … paused, turned, then hurried after Katy disappearing in the distance, leaving the memory behind.
Goodbye sweet memory. Goodbye Donna Theresa.
After the Grand Tour of Southern Latin Europe, Pres returned home and wrote some more.
December 26, 1991 – Phoenix, Arizona – I’m down in the dumps, a little depressed I guess … I’m worried about slipping back into depression. The shrink says it’s not unexpected. Come hell or high water, I’m not going to let myself slip. I’m going to act as though I love everything I’m doing; play, work, everything … look out world here I come.
January 5, 1992 – Theresa’s Fund made its first contribution today. Our board, at its first annual meeting, voted a $5,000 contribution to the East Valley Child Crisis Center to help build space for additional beds. We also voted that the board would cover all fund raising and administrative costs.
January 10, 1992 – Who is this woman I met last night? I saw her the moment Bill and I walked into our favorite spot for Italian food. It was interest at first sight … Andrea was breathtakingly beautiful.
She was single I could see. I remember thinking; she will walk out of my life unless I introduce myself.
When the wine I ordered arrived at her table, she looked up, smiled and nodded her thanks. As dinner ended, I gathered my courage to introduce myself and invited her and her friend to join Bill and me for coffee and dessert. Holy Cow, they accepted. Call it chemistry … we spent the rest of the evening dancing … then exchanged phone numbers.
January 15, 1992 – “Oh Pres,” said Char my secretary, “there is a sparkle in your eyes I haven’t seen in two years. You better tell me about this.”
January 17, 1992 – This is difficult and a private matter I want to discuss with you. The exciting truth is, as in the old days when we were together, Donna Theresa, I am again capable of … instantaneous rising to the occasion.
God, you can’t imagine how exhilarating it is to feel like a man, a whole man again. I’m vindicated! Complete! Whole! A man again!
Two days later Pres felt he was on top of the world again.
January 19, 1992 – Tell me it’s not possible. Among the people who know me, none would have believed I could have been so sick, so disturbingly depressed during the last 22 months. Frankly, I find it hard to conceive someone viewed by others as so powerfully imposing, so in control, could have been brought down to such absolute depths of despair. I just can’t imagine. I really can’t. Yet I know the truth.
January 20, 1992 – Last night, Andrea whispered, “You are the kindest man I have ever met, wonderful and caring. I feel safe with you.”
Oblivious of the other dinner guests, I leaned over and kissed her cheeks a dozen times. We held hands, sitting close, sharing a glass of wine, telling our histories because we needed to. You see, Donna Theresa, more quickly than I would have thought possible, our relationship has grown quite tender. Just seeing each other has become very exciting, very new, like the birth of emotions I had long since thought impossible.
Andrea agrees, “It’s very scary.”
Still, we’ve agreed, we want to pursue an even closer relationship.
Andrea, as has every woman I‘ve dated, asked if I was still in love with you Donna. No, this time the question was a statement.
She said, “You’re still very much in love with her.”
Before responding, for the first time in twenty years, I had to think about how I felt about you. Yes, while I still love you, Donna Theresa, I can honestly say I am no longer in love with you.
Even at that, I was surprised hearing myself respond, “No, no I’m not in love with Donna Theresa. Really I’m not.”
Two weeks ago I could not have answered as I did.
January 21, 1992 – This place, my new home, is the ultimate bachelor pad. It radiates a commitment to remain single. The whole arrangement is one giant conscious defense mechanism.
So, I am surprised as I sit here thinking of ways in which I could rearrange my home to accommodate Andrea’s two teenage daughters. My God. I’ve only known her ten days.
Ahhhh … Andrea, dear Andrea, you said you were “sorry.” I know you are. Me, too. You’re a good person. So I’m writing to make certain you know that you are forgiven. After all, and this is important, it is in forgiving that we are forgiven.We are just human, doing the best we can in our own way and bound to do those things we are bound to do.
As I think about our final phone conversation, it occurs to me, you might have wondered why I said I was “not surprised” by your marriage announcement. Well it’s difficult to explain.
Monday night, about ten o’clock, as I was enjoying a daydream about you, I was astonished to hear myself say, “Oh my God. She married that a$$hole.”
Call it telepathic communication if you like, or a powerful sensation, or perhaps a special connection we shared. I suppose it’s not important anymore. Thankfully, if only by a degree, it prepared me for the inevitable.
Remember this: you are truly a wonderful person.
Now be happy, enjoy life and accept my best wishes for a full and blessed future.
Dear Donna Theresa, during these past 22 months I’ve traveled a long way, from the deep frightening impotent dark side of life on the edge to incremental renewed interest in living. I feel invigorated and excited about the future; strong again and as healthy, mentally and physically as I have ever been.
I have learned so much about myself, my childhood and how it affects my adult life, forgiveness, relationships, compassion, my patterns, mistakes I hope never to repeat and the importance of my spiritual existence.
By the grace of God, at the very moment hopelessness was about to consume me I was rescued. In the process I have put guilt aside and left a very sad chapter behind me forever.
And so, dear Donna Theresa, I thank you for the most wonderful 19 years of my life; and dear Andrea, thank you for coming into my life when you did and for showing me what could be.