For Better or Worse, but Not the Worst

My husband’s rage and my daughter’s pain were too much for me to balance and finally, when she died, an iron curtain slammed down in my mind emblazoned with the two simple words:  NO MORE

by Linda Garramone

On December 9, 2012, I will have been married for twenty-eight tumultuous years. Unless, of course, the divorce my husband just filed for in Palm Beach County, Florida is finalized by then.  I have no experience with legal proceedings of any kind and can’t seem to focus on the undeniable fact that the divorce papers, served while I was in Manhattan at my weekly trauma therapy session, are still on the kitchen counter under the window ledge where they were immodestly left, without even the demure cover of an envelope, casually tossed on top of the scattered post-its to myself, reminders to do ordinary things that I cannot do.

The papers are official, inflexible and now damp from the East Hampton spring fog that has floated in through the partially opened window. They are stamped with a coffee ring on the back where I inadvertently put down my pretty blue and white striped espresso cup that I use every morning.  This is a cup that I bought after a trip to Paris last year, a trip that was supposed to give me a sliver of light and hope, a belief in myself that I can climb out of the rubble of trauma. The cup and saucer, duplicates of the ones room service delivered within minutes of my request on an elegant silver tray, remind me that I must find a way to love again, to take an axe to the frozen pain that fills my chest, that I must continue to struggle out of the agony of my daughter’s suicide to find the way to a meaningful life even if it may no longer be a comfortable one.

It will be four years this July 25th that I knocked on my dazzling twenty-two year-old’s bedroom door, the way I did whenever she was home and then every morning since she had graduated from Skidmore College that May in 2008.  It was a sunny morning full of the glorious promise of yet another unstructured summer day.  I pushed the door open, carrying Gus, Olivia’s wriggling long-haired dachshund who was eager to be dropped into her bed for his morning ritual of licking her face, kissing and snuggling under the covers while she sleepily stroked his red fur with her long graceful fingers.  I looked forward to leaning into her warm bed and inhaling the delicious scent of her perfumed skin, kissing the back of her neck under her ponytail and gathering both my girl and her dog in my arms with pleasure and the relief of knowing that my fragile Olivia, my brilliant poet and fearless equestrian was finally at home where she would be safe, where I could keep her safe.

The eulogy I wrote and gave at her funeral poured from my heart in a stream of   pure love, but the disbelief, the disconnect, the white-hot agony that followed shattered me.  My precious family life that I built and nurtured with care for both of my children imploded in the nanosecond of seeing, but not believing, that she was dead.  My volatile, impetuous husband, blue eyes blazing sat in the chair at the end of my bed where I could not move, could barely turn my head or take a breath.  He was not seeing me eviscerated and blown to pieces because trauma is an invisible wound.  I imagine that his pain was also huge; he was in Palm Beach and not home and so had the shock of my brutal phone call the next morning when I found her.

Our marriage was broken irretrievably a long time ago, but probably fully severed when Olivia was in her difficult high school years.  My husband’s currency, as the CEO of his own company, was living well and he unleashed his unrelenting energy on providing a high quality lifestyle for his family.  The phrase he seared into my brain with repetition was, “You are nothing without me.”

But I did not for one minute believe this.  I made excuses for his anger and explosive behavior, letting him bully me into signing things I shouldn’t have.   I told myself he didn’t mean it, but he wore me down just as she wore me out.  My husband’s rage and my daughter’s pain were too much for me to balance and finally, when she died, an iron curtain slammed down in my mind emblazoned with the two simple words:  NO MORE.

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07.13.2012

Linda Garramone writes a clear-eyed, brutal and agonizing tale of an irretrievably shattered life. She recounts, in a brisk yet rich with vividness and moments of extraordinary pathos, the loss of her twenty-two year old gifted daughter to suicide, the end of her marriage, and the confused and brittle being she now has become. Her lucid, beautiful writing, reflects the sensitive perception of a gifted artist. We look forward to reading her future stories.

Noella 07.10.2012

Linda Garramone's story is the clear-eyed, brutal and agonizing tale of an irretrievably shattered life that starts with the severing of the last few ties to the abusive man the writer married almost three decades before, centers on the annihilation of a wife/mother dedicated to her love for family and family life, the woman she was before the devastating loss of her beautiful 22 year-old daughter to suicide, and ends with the confused and brittle creature she has become. However, there is a spark in the darkness:"No More," said she. It is her call to a courageous determination to resurface. One cannot easily imagine the arduous road that is ahead, but there is a hint, here and there,(the vivid presence of the pretty blue cup in an elegant hotel room in Paris, or the sensuous and beautiful scene of mornings with her daughter) that her exquisite sensibility and awareness may be of secours.
Garramone's limpid style reinforces the inferno she recounts. One understands her revulsion at the minutia of daily living and is anxious and eager to read of ther overcoming the obstacles that clutter her path and of finding acceptance after the merciless tragedy that has befell her. I look forward to more reading of this interesting and remarkably good writer.


Such a beautifully written and heartbreaking account of the loss of a child and a shattered marriage. My heart goes out to the author.

07.06.2012

I found Ms. Garramone's article to be riveting! Would love to read more from this talented writer. Deborah Pitts, Palm City, Florida.

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