Long Lost Love and Death
I continued to search for some type of relationship with my dad, hoping some sort of wisdom or guidance would come from our time together, but we never seemed to be able to communicate. I would always go to see him with hopes that the next time would be the time that we would connect. I would go over to his house, and he would drink, get drunk, and make a fool of himself every single time. By day he was the picture of health and success, but when nighttime came, he fell into a pit. Each time I walked out his front door, I left feeling forlorn; I had a heavy heart because he was so unhappy, but the funny thing is that I was too.
My dad could talk anyone into anything, sell anyone anything, and at the same time, would give or help anyone with anything. However, he always left his family wanting more.
One time when I was at his house and he was smashed, I overheard him tell someone he kept a list of all the money his kids borrowed. I had gone back for more punishment one night and upon leaving, found myself short on cash. I needed gas, and I reluctantly asked if I could borrow five dollars. He looked at me with a sick smirk and said that of course I could. The guilt I had over it was tremendous. I made a point of taking it back to him two days later.
I longed to have a close relationship with Dad like the children on TV programs like the Brady Bunch. Neither of us, however, could get beyond any of our shortcomings long enough for this kind of relationship to develop. Being around my dad didn’t make me happy. I thought when I got married that I would find the happiness I longed for. I would say to myself, “I just want to be happy.” I was doing everything in the world to make it happen. I looked for my happiness in everyone—in everything and under every rock.
I had no boyfriend and was doing my best to lose weight and get in shape again so I could acquire a new love. My weight went up and down like a yo-yo. It was a cycle, but—like it or not—that was me. But! I still had the job at the savings and loan and that was a miracle.
I hurt inside and ran to the doctor for this or that with any little pain. If I got depressed, I would make something out of nothing and head for the doctor. My mind-set was, “Just give me a pill and I’ll feel better!”
Sometimes I would leave for lunch and go to the doctor; they would diagnose me with whatever my complaint was. I would then call work from the doctor’s office and go home for the afternoon. I just wanted to be in love and be happy. I was bleeding on the inside but I could not seem to fix myself. I would do better for a while when I had an illness to focus on. I would return to work, put all my efforts into working hard, and receive pats on the back; then “it” would come back again. I felt like something had crawled up inside of me and died. I really needed a soul doctor, but they didn’t have those. If they did, I didn’t know any.
I was depressed and anxious, and I was put on Valium. After all, my dad had been put on Valium when he was my age, and I was just like my dad. The doctor diagnosed me with a “bad case of nerves.” That was a term doctors used at the time for me because they really didn’t know what was wrong. But the more nervous I said I was, the more nervous I became, so the pills just kept on coming. I ate them like candy.
The aunt I had been obnoxious with when I was young was not a well person. She had gone for shock treatments and was temporarily placed in a mental rest home. She had always told me, “You are just like me.” She put some weird thoughts in my mind, and at a young age I took them to heart. I started thinking I was like her. Of course, how could I be? I was just like my dad!
I nearly killed myself trying to lose weight. I lost about sixty pounds in a span of three months and headed back to my hometown where I had left my heart. Secretly, I was going to find out what was going on with David. I was going on a fishing trip—a manhunt—to see what I could find. I asked a friend to go along, put a gun under the front seat I had borrowed for protection, and off we headed for the mountains of West Virginia to my grandmother’s house. Guess who's coming to Grandma’s? David had come to town from college for a friend’s bachelor party. He was meeting one of my cousins at my grandmother’s house so they could ride together. What luck! When I found out he was coming by, my heart skipped a beat, as it always did at the mention of his name. The last several years of hurt were out the window. Who was the guy who had just dumped me several months earlier because I was fat? Who cares? My high school sweetheart was coming. The way I could shift gears emotionally was utterly remarkable.
I was in the bathroom primping, knowing I was minutes away from seeing David. The one I had cried for at night as I imagined him being with someone else after I moved away. The past was the past. It was a new day and another time. I heard a knock on the door. I could hear voices muttering in the next room. My heart started beating wildly as I wondered what he would think of me now. It had been several years since we had seen each other. I had had my hair cut short and straightened. I wondered if he would like it.
The only way I would find out was to take a leap of faith and go into the living room. I took in a deep breath and shook inside the entire time it took me to walk the ten steps to reach him. Our eyes locked. It was all I could do to keep from running into his arms. He commented on my hair immediately, saying he liked it. I sighed with relief. Outward appearance most of the time was very important to me; it was odd that I had let myself get so fat. It was as if I just couldn’t help gorging at times.
This was the first time in several years we had seen one another, and I was already, in my mind, planning on us getting married. Anyway, there we were face-to-face. I was nice, polite, and—of course—funny. People loved it when I was funny, so that was what I was going to be. The last time we had been together had been deep, dark, and depressing, and I was going to show him in an instant that I had changed.
I had made plans to go uptown to a club that evening with several other friends, but had made the comment that my friend and I were going to stop first to pick up something to eat. David and I said our good-byes. I walked out the door with the friend who had traveled with me, my heart sinking as I took each step toward the car. I would never again see the one person on earth I longed to be with forever. I knew I had to play this cool and collected. Deep in my soul, I still loved him. He was the only one in my heart and the only one I wanted. I slowly drove to the A&W, which was a drive-in, about ten miles away. Waitresses came to the car to take our order; it was fun to go there. There was nothing like a cold draft root beer from the tap, and I didn’t really even like root beer.
All of a sudden there was a knock at the window. I had my head turned toward my friend talking, and I assumed it was our order. I turned my ahead around, and there stood David. My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. I rolled down the window and said, “Hi.”
He said, “I would rather be with you than go with my buddies to the bachelor party. I can see them anytime.”
I said, “Are you sure?” He nodded yes.
That was it. He got into the backseat of the car and said he was going with us. My girlfriend knew how much I loved him. She piped up and said, “Why don’t I go with the others so you and David can be together for the evening?”
I jumped on the invitation, and she was off with my childhood friend to go dancing uptown. I was glad to have her go—boy, what a friend I was. It was all about me, and I usually got what I wanted at the expense of others. True to form that night, I got what I had come for.
I was filled with anticipation, knowing I had to tread lightly with him. I was casual, yet attentive. We went to a local hangout and talked. We really didn’t even know each other any longer, and the conversation was forced at times. The attraction was definitely there, but I could not be sure there was anything more going on in his mind. He treaded lightly with me as well.
We saw someone we knew from high school, they made a big deal out of us being with one another and asked if we were back together. We quickly both assured him we were just friends. Minute by minute, my heart sank; I felt that he just didn’t trust who I was. We left, picked up some beer, and went up to one of the parking places in town. We turned the radio on low, and there was silence for quite some time. We had made small talk up to that point, and then he started asking a lot of questions about me. I felt he was probing for something, and I answered calmly and quietly as he asked. I didn’t ask many questions of him as we sat there. I really didn’t care to know if he were seeing someone for fear that my heart would get hurt, even though we had no commitment.
I finally piped up and told him that I thought I still loved him. He was shocked. He reached over to kiss me, and it appeared the same feelings were still there. He couldn’t believe that I still cared about him. We stayed there talking for several hours, and then I drove him home around midnight. The time between us seemed different than it had been in high school. We decided that we wanted to stay in touch, but there were no commitments made that night. He was very cautious, and I don’t think he was certain that he wanted to get together again. We said good-bye, and that was all. I didn’t know if I would ever see him again, but as I drove away, I was singing in my heart, “Heaven…I’m in heaven!”
He told me he would be in Richmond the following year for a wedding. We got together at that time and were able to see each other again briefly. That visit settled the fact that we would try to get together to see if we could work out what was happening in our hearts.
I was at work one Friday evening getting ready to leave when the phone rang. It was David. He told me that all the guys were in the fraternity house celebrating the end of the semester and he was going to come and see me for the weekend. He also proceeded to tell me that he had gotten a job in Richmond for the upcoming summer with a friend’s dad who owned a construction business.
He stated he loved me. I was elated. Then for some odd reason I said, “Why don’t you let me fly there for the weekend?”
He was emphatic and said no. The plans had been already made. He was going to hitch a ride with some guys who were coming that way. He said, “I love you and I will see you about two in the morning.”
I said, “I love you too.”
My mother happened to be at my grandmother’s house visiting for the weekend when the phone rang at our home in Richmond about six o’clock the next morning. My first thought when I heard the phone ring was it was David. My sister and I had waited up for him to come until the wee hours of the morning, and then we had fallen asleep. The voice on the other end of the phone was my mother’s. The first thing she said to me was, “Molly, sit down. I have something to tell you.”
I got a horrible ache in the pit of my stomach. “David was killed on the West Virginia turnpike around the Princeton area early this morning.”
She kept talking, but I wasn’t listening to what she was really saying. Her speech became muffled. She went on, “He and four others ran head-on into a truck. He was sitting in the front passenger’s seat, and he was the only one in the car killed.” The only injury he sustained, I discovered later, was a gash on his forehead.
I seemed to be frozen in time as I continued to sit there. David was gone. In an instant, the world I had built in my mind for us to share was over.
My childhood friend had come to Richmond for the summer to work. He was the same one who comforted me during the devastation after my dad left home. He was the first one who I thought to call. He arranged with his work to take time off, as did I, and we headed to our hometown for the funeral. I was in complete shock not feeling anything.
David’s dad was the manager of the local funeral home. He had driven to pick up his dead son in one of the hearses David used to wash on the weekends to earn spending money. The thought of it was awful. I shrank back at the funeral home on the night of the visitation, unable to speak to his family. His death was my fault; I was the one to blame—the cause of the sad circumstance that brought everyone together at this time. I couldn’t take their rejection of me.
Finally, I took a step forward and managed to speak to his older brother, but I just couldn’t bring myself to speak to his parents. I looked their way and smiled, then turned and walked away. If it hadn’t been for me, their son would have been alive.
I went to the florist in town, ordered a huge plant, and sent it to their home with a note attached. In it I explained my feelings. I could always put down on a piece of paper exactly what I wanted to say without having to confront anyone; it was my way. Plain and simple, I was a coward. Once again my life was headed in a direction I didn’t want it to go in.
When I returned to Richmond, I went back to work. I would leave at lunchtime and go out driving in my car. The tears would start to flow, and I would stop at a phone booth to call my mom. I would stand there sobbing as I listened to her talk me out of my anguish so that I could return to work for the afternoon. No one could soothe me like my mom.
I didn’t want to live. I became very scared, particularly of death. I started sleeping on the couch at night. It was all I could do to keep going from day to day. Then one night, something happened.
My mom, sister, and I lived in a beautiful townhome now. The very first home we moved to in Richmond had been broken into, and my sister had become so distraught that my dad finally moved us to the other side of town.
The neighborhood had been vandalized and thirty-five houses burglarized within the span of several days. Three men and one woman came in and stole my mother’s diamond watch, $300, and other minor things. A cousin had come for a visit and was staying there with her baby. The thieves had actually moved the baby from its crib into the bed with its mother without stirring anyone in the house.
All of a sudden I was awakened, drenched in sweat. I just knew something was wrong. I got up and looked all around. I awoke to all the drawers opened up with clothes hanging out and our bedroom light was on. I cautiously got up to look down the hall, and a dish flew right by my head. I ran across the hall to my mom’s room and hid behind her door. Then I turned and ran into her bathroom, locking myself inside. Seconds later, my sister was banging on the door wanting to come in.
I was frozen with fear; I didn’t want to open the door at first, but she kept screaming, saying, “Molly, let me in!” I opened the door and pulled her in, and we stood there screaming our heads off. I had picked up a brush for protection! My mom was asleep in her bed. When I had run past her, I wasn’t sure if she was even alive. The screaming woke her up, and she literally followed the burglars out the front door. They had taken off at the sounds of our screams.
We now lived in Fort Knox, baby! When we moved into our townhouse, Dad had someone come and place black bars on the two back windows. On the back door was a decorative bar that covered the whole door from the top to the bottom. On top of that, there was the doorknob lock, of course, and above that, we had a chain lock. At the top and bottom of the door, were extra deadbolts.
At any rate, there I was—asleep on the couch. It was about 2:00 a.m. or a little later. I could hear a constant knocking on the door which seemed to be muffled. Something kept knocking and knocking. I knew it wasn’t going to stop unless I answered it. I got up and slowly opened the back door.
I methodically began at the top. I slowly pulled back the deadbolt at the top and the deadbolt at the bottom. Then I unhooked the chain on the door. I opened the door and there stood David.
He said, “I love you. I’m all right.”
I said, “I am so sorry. I love you too.”
He said, “There is nothing to be sorry for. I have to go.”
He turned slowly and headed off into the air. He appeared exactly the way he had looked to me in life, wearing the same black and white jacket that he usually wore. It was as if he had been sent back to comfort my aching heart. He told me he loved me. He told me he loved me!
I awoke the next morning not recalling the dream at first. Then little by little, it all started to flood back into my mind. Seeing him did something for me nothing or no one else had been able to. I was grief-stricken and wasn’t certain how I would pull myself together again but seeing him the way I did, comforted my aching heart. I knew I could continue on this earth knowing he did love me; there was no doubt. Going on without him was horrible, but I held his words in my heart. They gave me something to cling to, and knowing the vision of him was real opened my eyes to life after death. I had always felt there was something more after a person died, and this confirmed it.
This was to be the first of many visions. The next one wouldn’t come until years later. I didn’t dare tell anyone; what would they think of me? This was different from the games we played or the séances we had at the dining room table. If I tried to tell anyone, they would think I was just overwrought and dreamed it up, but I knew I didn’t. That encounter was as real to me as any human encounter I’d ever had.
I had to keep living a life that was really no life at all now, and I would have to live it without David.