Look, I didn’t win. Not wholly. I fought and I lost battles. I fought and won some too. I might yet win the war. That doesn’t mean I regret the fight. I just regret losing the battles I lost. There is no point second guessing myself. I simply did the best I could at the time. At various points I made considered choices which might have been better in the end – who knows. All roads might lead to roughly the same situation I am in now, or perhaps worse.
The fact the Boy is with me and safe, the fact we are fed and sheltered, the fact that we are away from Pig, the fact that he is doing so well at school, the fact that there is a path to being a citizen, and that I am starting to see a small measure of success in my life are all battles won, and battles which were very hard fought. I will say right now, without Ruth, my darling friend, we wouldn’t have won a fraction of them. We simply couldn’t without a bit of help. She saved our lives, and I don’t know how I will ever be able to thank her. If I am wrong, and there is a G-d who cares about such things as kindness, helping our fellow human beings, compassion, sisterhood, then Ruth is going to be in his very very good books. If not, I hope my heartfelt gratitude is close to being enough. Thank you is too small a word.
I still lost more than I can bear some days. I have had a few tough ones. The tears are too close to the surface. My son looked at me a couple of days ago, and started to cry. He didn’t need to say anything. I knew. I told him I am sad too, but we are here and we are very much moving into the future and I am taking care of my health as best I can, that I intend to be there for him.
I’m firmly in middle age. There will be no more children, no chance of more babies. There is no chance of romantic love or being loved back. I always wanted that – to be loved and to love back. That was not for me. It was not given to me. I have had to accept that romantic love is not something I will ever have. There will be no grand love affair. There will be no wedding. No partner to hold my hand through life. Sometimes I wonder if I am cursed. Sometimes I wonder if my mother hated me that much. I suspect the reality was that she was simply too sad, too scared, and she bled out whatever strength she had into me, and there was nothing left for her at all.
I lost the possibility of satisfaction. Happiness. I wanted a house with a garden I could grow string beans in. A partner that would sit staring at me with love in their eyes while I drank my morning tea with the radio on low. I used to say silly childish prayers for G-d to make me into a poet, a writer. I didn’t want to be beautiful. I didn’t care to be clever. I didn’t even want success or money. I wanted words. I wanted to be able to write. I wanted to chase the light down the alleyways and city streets, the wilderness trails and the heat soaked deserts and report back to those who are not driven to chase dragons.
I won’t die where I was born, but that is ok with me, I got used to exile. I have always been a wanderer. It always makes me smile to listen to music about being a wanderer, a traveler, a will ‘o the whisp, when the singer clearly is nothing of the sort. It is not something to want to be. Unanchored is not a fun trip. It is cold and lonely, dangerous and tiring. People need roots to put down, even I do. I have just been compelled to move and keep moving. To be frank, staying where I was born wouldn’t have suited me at all. I am not that quiet a soul. I had a hunger to move around, an insatiable appetite for the road. I still feel like I have simply washed up somewhere, adrift on a beach, battered and smoothed by waves, and am waiting for the sea to carry me away again.
This is not a totally satisfactory ending. I suppose because it is real instead of an ending you would write for such a life if you had control over Fate. I am fighting to write the next chapter with some flair and success, instead of some kind of hokey tragedy. I need Hemingway to take over the pen from Marlowe and give me a heroine’s ending with a kernel of happiness and brilliance, instead of destruction and the dullness of failure. At this point, I have adjusted my acceptable conclusions down to the non negotiable – for my remaining child to be safe and successful. That is the basic line I am drawing in the sand. Anything else is going to have to be gravy, but I am trying. I am really fighting.
I have accepted partial defeat – I accepted I won’t get be able to get a divorce without risking myself further, I’ve accepted I won’t ever have a relationship, or more children. I’ve accepted the way things went in the past, and I am strong arming the future into some kind of acceptable shape. I’ve put the brakes on the downwards slide, and haven’t stopped fighting yet. To accept these losses and try to move forward carrying them with me is way beyond something anyone should ask of themselves. If it was anybody else, I would counsel being kind to themselves, but since it is me, I will continue to kick my own ass into the future, and have to hope the world doesn’t go to total wreck and ruin around us.
If anyone reading this is fighting their own battles, hold the line, my friends, press forwards, it is the only way through this. There has to be a future beyond this wall of suffering and sadness. Never surrender. Don’t give into weakness. If the only thing that gets you through is curiosity over the future, it is enough, it has to be. There is nothing else.