Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Last Connection

March 1st was Daphne’s birthday.   The day used to trigger a deep depression in me.  As time passed I graduated from depression to a primal missing and general funk.   Once I learned where she was buried and could go and visit her grave I managed to elevate to a general sadness and sense of loss.  And after a lot of therapy, I can now conjure so many of the great memories and not just the trauma of one horrific day.

A big part of that evolution began a few years ago when I began a relationship with Daphne’s mother, Charlotte, who gave me the end of Daphne’s story.    It was a strained relationship.  I didn't like her for decades even though I had never met her.  Mostly because I knew how much she had hurt Daph.  I could never understand how a mother could disown her child.  Her only child.  I still remember how often Daphne tried to reconcile with her.  And how much it hurt her that her mother always choose to turn her back.  

Charlotte hated me because. . .   Well, I can’t really speak for her.  I believe she hated me because I was in a lesbian relationship with her daughter and mostly because I was the cause of Daphne’s brutal attack and subsequent death.   I get that part.  I’m sure I would feel the same.  

Charlotte and I began a tenuous relationship mostly based on my need to know what happened to Daph at the end, her need to get to know her lost daughter, and perhaps our joint need to maybe build that bridge for Daphne.  I never had a doubt Daph would have wanted it that way.  Still, it was strained.  We both tried, but the underlying mistrust and resentment always came through.  

Anyway, I emailed Charlotte at the end of February to say that I would not be going to the cemetery as I often do on anniversaries but that I was thinking of her.  I received no reply.  Then I emailed because I needed her input on the annual scholarship we had set up in Daphne’s name.   No reply.   And, of course, my first reaction was to be pissed off, that she was back to playing her games.

Then a few days ago I received a certified letter explaining that Charlotte had passed away but had left provisions in her will for the continued endowment of the scholarship fund and that I would be receiving information about that shortly.

I haven’t been able to get my feelings around this.  I read her obit - she was in her 80s so I supposed it was not a shock, although she always seemed to be in good health when I saw her.    She was predeceased by her husband and daughter.  Very few other family members were mentioned.  Lots of professional accomplishments.

She was exactly what you would might picture when you thought of a very well educated, wealthy, privileged, southern woman who built a powerful legal career in NYC.   She carried herself like an aristocrat and looked down her nose on almost everyone.   Most especially me.  

And so I am left with all these unresolved feelings.  I would like to hate her, but Daphne never did and she had a lot more cause to.   I have always disliked her.  But now that she is gone, there doesn't seem to be much point in that.  I suppose even when she was alive, there was no point in that.   And oddly, I find myself wishing that I had tried harder, made more of an effort to get to know her.  

Mostly I think that I am sort of mourning because I will never be able to look into her eyes again. Daphne had her eyes.  And even though Charlotte’s eyes had aged and faded with time,  I could always see Daphne in them.  It was those few moments of connection with the past that drew me to her every time.  I could take all the insults and thinly veiled put downs, just for the chance to feel Daphne present in my life again.  

She was really my last connection.  



  1. She was your last human connection, perhaps, but the glorious love you hold in your heart for Daphne, and all the good memories you can now enjoy, will forever connect you to her and her to you.

    May Charlotte rise in glory and find reconciliation with her daughter in the hereafter.

    1. Thank you for that thought Sue. It is my wish that the love that connects us all will indeed reunite Charlotte to her daughter. Just the thought of that makes me very teary . In a good way.

  2. I just read this and I am deeply touched by it. I think you may have been a gift to Charlotte, even if the gift couldn't be affirmed. And maybe she to you too.

    I don 't know the story of Daphne's death and I wish I did. In any case I don 't believe it was your fault

    Your heart will hold her, 8. That keeps her close


    1. Thank you for your kind words. I know that Charlotte was a gift. Well, at least the information she was able to give me was a gift. And I am indeed thankful for that, every.single. day.

  3. First of all, I have to say it, you were never the cause of the attack. Please, please let go of that. We are never responsible for violence against us. That rests squarely with the animals that attacked you.

    But, mostly, I want to say that I am sorry that the last living, tenuous, difficult connection to Daphne is gone. I'm sorry that you'll never get to look into those eyes again. But, the connection? That's a two way street. She could have tried harder as well, dear 8. It was never only your duty or obligation, it was hers as well.

    So, yes, she is gone. But, Daphne is still with you in spirit. I agree with Sue that you two are forever connected. And, also, the good thought that Charlotte and Daphne are reconciled in love.

    I hope you treat yourself gently with this new knowledge. You need love and compassion, not judgment, to get to a place of serenity.



    1. Yes, I do realize that I did not cause the attack, yet I still feel some responsibility for putting us in harm’s way. I used to be crushed by the weight of that knowledge, but now, after much therapeutic help, it is just a pebble I carry with me. Still, I understand Charlotte’s response. I’m sure if anything happened to Zoe, you would feel the same way. I’m not saying it’s right - just that I understand her response to me.

      And e, I again want to thank you for always being there on this journey with me. Your constant support and wisdom has got me over many a difficult hurdle and thankfully, I believe I have finally crossed the finish line.

  4. We all have times where we wish we would have done things differently - and while it is easier said than done - we need to try to learn from it and use it when we can in the future and not let it always linger in our minds. She will always be in your heart - and you will always miss her. She will always be part of the reason you are who you are today.

    1. Yes, you are absolutely right - especially the easier said than done part. And yes, all our experiences, good and bad, teach us and make us who we are. I am fortunate that I am now finally able to look back on it all from a place of strength.

  5. Like e, and as someone who has had this happen to me although I was alone, I want to reiterate that it was never your fault. Was it your fault that she fell in love with someone who could see how she was and celebrate it? I remember that time in the world and being lesbian was never easy but back then, it was almost invisible. I also took statistics of gay bashing during that time and it was rampant. It just was never "officially" reported. (That's why gay organizations took statistics ourselves.)

    You and Daphne were about love.

    The one thing you always have, as Sue said, is the love. I have so many friends and family who are so long gone. I still miss them. But I still love them too and I always will. And you will always love Daphne. You will never lose that.

  6. My fingers are poised to talk, but words, beyond that which have already been expressed, escape me--except to say, no, not your fault. And, what if Charlotte's death isn't the end, but the beginning of crystallizing perspective--you said, "finally crossed the finish line."