Download e-book I Could Never Say Goodbye: a daughters journey to the end of life with dad & mom

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Since they were so young, it was a natural question to ask. My husband and I have been married for over 35 years. We both had first marriages that didn't work out, and we'd felt pressured into those vows. Dan knew that. When he responded, "Yes, I'm sure. I'm marrying her," I felt good about it. We laughed and chit-chatted some more. Everything was fine, or so I thought. A few days later, Dan called again and I found out things weren't fine at all. It was close to midnight when the phone rang, and I grabbed it fast. My husband was sick and had just settled down to sleep and I was afraid it would wake him.

I honestly don't remember most of what was said in that conversation, but thinking about it now still puts my stomach in knots.

At first I was so shocked that I didn't even reply. Dan came back on and said something about me being unfriendly at the bridal shower the month before. I was stunned. Hearing his accusation hurt, and Dan knew me better than that. My husband and I were in disbelief. How could a person you've loved your whole life act that way?

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The next few days were spent in a sort of waiting mode, just trying to keep busy. When Dan did call again, it wasn't to apologize or explain.

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He called to confirm that we wouldn't be at the wedding. When he said he was just confirming that we would not be at the wedding, and that they needed to know for "the plates," tears slid down my cheeks. I was his mother, diminished to a number on a catering order. After that, I had no choice but to call our relatives who'd been invited and try to explain why we were no longer going to Dan's wedding. Of course there were questions: "What happened? There were a couple relatives who immediately rallied and said, "Something's going on.

Do you think she wants him all to herself? And my thought was, I don't know, but I'm not going to say anything bad about anybody. The two weeks between that phone call and the wedding, I walked around in the daze. Every time the phone rang, my heart would jump. I would think: It's got to be him.

This can't be happening. He's going to call. But when it wasn't him, there was also a sense of relief. He had been so cold, and I couldn't bear the thought of hearing that cold tone in his voice again. I did tell his siblings, "You could probably still go to the wedding if you want.

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Since we had already ordered Greek food, Dan's favorite, for the rehearsal dinner, we decided to have a couple extended family members over to eat with us the night before the wedding. The day of the wedding was very sad. I think we all woke up that morning thinking that Dan would surely call and make things right. But he didn't. And so we did our best to avoid talking about the wedding. My husband and I were just numb and spent.

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That day we mostly alternated between sitting long-faced in front of the TV, behind a newspaper or in a patio chair gazing out at nothing. I remember feeling for Dan too, wondering if he was hurting there without his family. It seemed too painful to even imagine — even if he had chosen the arrangement himself. One day I was in line at the bank and spotted Dan across from me in the grocery line.


It was just this utter, Oh my gosh! There he is. But when he left the store, he walked right by me. I finished my banking, but I broke down in tears once I got to my car and cried all the way home. His car had a very distinctive sound and, a little while later, I heard him coming to drop off his rent check he was still renting from us at the time.

I hurried outside thinking maybe I could catch him in time and we could finally talk. But when I got down to the mailbox, he was already speeding away. I texted him, "Next time you see your mother in the store maybe you could speak to her. As I looked back, I thought, Well, I didn't jump out of the bank line and run over to him. Maybe he felt awkward. I do have a lot of empathy for him being that it was probably a distressing moment for him too.

A couple weeks later, Dan had gotten a new job and texted me that he'd be moving out of our rental property. I was pleasantly surprised when he agreed to meet in person and turn over the keys. As we drove up his street, I had this whole fantasy in my head about a tearful reunion. Unfortunately, it didn't go that way. He was really guarded, and so were we. It was awkward, and Dan ended up rushing off. As he was jogging to his car I said, "I'm going to cry every day for the rest of my life.

And I did cry. Every day for months. But Dan didn't even turn around when I said that to him. He just kept going and drove off. I considered reaching out after they'd had time to get settled. But after he'd been so cold toward me, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It was clear that Dan had changed. It seemed that he was done with us and that we couldn't fix it even if we wanted to. I was a basket case during those first six months of estrangement, gaining weight, not sleeping or else having nightmares.

That first holiday season was particularly tough.

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I rushed around wrapping presents and preparing food. But when Christmas was over, I lay in bed wondering if I'd done enough. I thought, Will everyone else just leave me too?