It’s been a year since Thomas died. And I still miss the sheer emptiness of him. This time last year, I was dazed and stumbling. I felt knocked off balance – terrified of the dark– afraid to be alone, lost and confused in a flood of emotions that I did not understand.
I am still at times, taken aback by the realization that if I were to search every continent, under every rock, to the depth of the sea – I would not find him anywhere. Sure, there is a trace of him left in the mannerism and features of Thorr, his mother, sister and brothers, but Thomas is gone.
Jack Kerouac said, “I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, but that great consciousness of life,”
I’m not sure what I feel now as I reflect on what his life and death has taught me. I know that for years after our marriage crumbled, I was angry about a lot of things – his drug addiction, being left a single mother, the failure of us…for the longest time, I thought that the story of what we might have been was never told. But I’ve grown enough to know not to waste time on what might have been – that the roads I’ve traveled hold the answers to those not traveled.
I do find comfort that in Thomas’s last two years we were friends. When we talked, I stayed silent mostly - even about his memories of us… though they were selective at best. I’m not sure if he only chose what he wanted to remember, or if our story lived in him the way he meant us to be –
"I was a horrible husband, but I gave you a half a million dollar house in the divorce so that you wouldn’t have to worry about money. That was something, wasn’t it, Kit? And I loved Thorr more than any father could love his son, didn’t I, Kit." He would ask those times when he called me at all hours of the night and early morning before daybreak. In those moments, I could feel the deep loneliness of his life. Tired of being lied to, use, misuse and abused, his addiction had made him an outcast to most who loved him. Thomas was left to battle his demons alone in whatever dark alley he found himself.
At some point, I decided that it didn’t matter if he got the facts of our story right. I stopped reminding him that his drug use left us destitute. The house he talked about leaving me was in foreclosure – the equity depleted – and our bank accounts empty.
And as far as loving Thorr more than any father could love his child, Thorr was a year old when Thomas left and stayed gone for most of Thorr's childhood - his occasional appearances were marked with lies and broken promises. Still, I had no desire to remind him or assert any of these things. I didn't need to be right about anything. I allowed him his stories – distorted though they were, and just listened because he needed someone talk to and I needed to forgive, and put our past to bed.
Oprah Winfrey said, “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.”
At Thomas’s funeral, several people came up to me and expressed surprise that I had attended. This confused me. Do ex-wives and husbands not pay their final respect to the spouses they once loved?
I did not attend just to support Thorr, I was there for us. Despite what may have seemed a horrific tale of lost dreams, broken promises, and absolute failure, we were more than that. He was the perfect teacher who primed and prepped me for the life I was going to live - prepared me like a Kung-fu master trains his pupil for the fight of his or her life. He broke, challenged and placed obstacles in my way and forced me to survive them. He taught me surrender, letting go, and starting from scratch.
You see, I had struggled and fought with all that I am to save him - to save us from the addiction that tore through our marriage. But the day came when I had to accept that I could not save him. I was left staring soulfully, heart-breakingly at the life we dreamed, knowing that I had to leave it behind. I grabbed Thorr and abandoned the sinking ship engulfed in flames that was our life. And I left Thomas on it.
In the last few years of his life, I realized that I needed to change the way I perceived our story - not as the failure I once thought we were, but one of the most important chapters in my life - one that left me with a golden chess filled with wisdom.
I didn’t realize at the time how integral these skills would become to my survival. It was Thomas who taught me which bridges to build, which ones to leave as they stand and which ones to burn. He was my first daring, rebellious stake at love.
Despite all the tears – it is this realization that I hold close – the understanding that the role he played in my life was not just necessary, he was vital to my outcome. He was the grand master who set me on the path to becoming Sexkitten.
He has, since I stepped into adulthood been walking this journey with me. I accept our story as it played out, not with anger or hatred or bitterness, but with gratitude.
I wish I had known when Thomas was alive, that I would miss him when he's gone.
“True forgiveness is when you can say, "Thank you for that experience.”
― Oprah Winfrey