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.