A Father's Death, A Boyfriend's Proposal

Love, Heartbreak

Losing love and learning to let go.

I couldn't fathom why, at the age of 64, with an adoring wife and rewarding work, my father had just given up. During those final months, I could tell he wanted to die and to me that meant we weren't worth living for. Once he was gone, I labored under the shame of my failure, hating myself for letting my father go. He would not witness my marriage, celebrate my successes, hold my children. I loved him, I missed him, I blamed him.

By the time my boyfriend returned, I was cooking up a storm. Tarts of roasted tomatoes and eggplant from my garden. Fresh corn pudding. Blackberry granita with fruit I picked on hikes in the mountains. Every night I presented my mother and him with some obsessively orchestrated meal, but I was constantly cranky and moody. They bonded over how mean I was to them both. She even set aside her disdain for nicknames and profanity and fell into calling me "Kitchen Bitch" like he did. I felt my separateness from others very acutely, as though my skin did not so much contain me as protect me from contact. I slept in my own twin bed, and my fiancé endured this without much complaint, seeming to understand that I needed space. I wanted to be taken care of but rejected sympathy.

At the end of September, I wrenched myself away from the terrifying sight of my mother standing alone in the doorway of her empty home and went back to New York. I moved in with my husband-to-be, and began reinventing my life with a new respect for its possibilities. I was happily planning our nuptials, slated for the end of December in Santa Cruz, but I had nightmares that were black holes echoing with sneering voices, and I woke sweating and tearing at the sheets.


Expert advice

Save your breath because you only need two words to make him commit.
Are you REALLY thinking about their happiness?
If you keep finding yourself in heartbreaking, dead end relationships, listen up.
It seems like you can't do anything right.