When I was sixteen a very cute and unfortunate young man decided he wanted to date me. Naturally, I took him on as my newest victim. We started dating in early October. My normal cycle usually lasted six to eight weeks, then the victim was burned and I had moved on to someone else. This particular young man, R, lasted longer than the rest. I dated him until the end of the following March. I think part of the length had to do with the fact that he really did care about me, although that was something I couldn't fathom at the time. All young men were evil, they wanted to hurt and use me, I would hurt them first--that was my thought pattern.
R, however, added a dimension the other young men had not. He let me meet his mother. I loved R's mother immediately. She was older than my parents, not particularly pretty, but there was a sense that she cared about me. I loved visiting her. I extended my relationship with R simply because I wanted the contact with his mom. I spent hours at his house, visiting with her, helping her clean, preparing meals. I adored her.
There was no question that I had substituted R's mother for my own. I felt she valued me. She told me she loved me and hugged me often. I was so starved for healthy affection--for the first time in many years I felt whole. But through all this, it was obvious that R was growing bored with me. I suppose it's difficult to be in love with someone who's in love with your mother, in a manner of speaking.
As time passed, R and I grew further apart, and R's mom and I grew closer. When R and I broke up, his mom was more sad than either of us were. She came to visit my parents to see if they knew why R and I were no longer dating. My parents, of course were clueless, since I never told them anything. R's father also made a visit to talk to them. Apparently he, too, cared about me.
I continued my friendship with R's mom for the rest of that year and into the next. When R left for college, and later, a mission, my contact with his mom began to dwindle and eventually ceased. She came to my wedding reception, and I have not spoken to her since. I have saved birthday cards and small notes from her. She represents to me someone who proved to me that I could be loved when I was certain that was impossible. She was aware that I had treated her son badly--and she loved me anyway. She saw beneath the hurt and anger to the person I was inside--the one I wanted to become. She was beautiful.
I say "was", not because all this took place in my past. R's mom was killed in a car accident yesterday. I've not had contact with her for many years--but she has always been in my heart. I've toyed often with the idea of visiting her, calling or e-mailing her. I know I told her I loved her. I know I thanked her for befriending me and letting me spend time with her. I never told her why that was so important, and maybe it doesn't matter. But today the reality that I can never talk to her again has set in, and it hurts a little.
I've decided however, rather than dwell on the regret that I didn't do something when I had the chance, I'll focus on how her beautiful life touched my own. It was in the time that she cared about me that I was able to stop nearly all my coping devices that involved self-harm, and my eating disorder eased, as well. My nightmares were less frequent, and I remember fantasizing that if any person tried to harm me again, R's mom would help me and comfort me. It's not true, of course, and I read much more into our relationship than that which was actually there--but for a very short while, in my mind, I had a Mom, and much of the pain of the sexual abuse I'd encountered seemed to ease. I have no idea what the correlation is between those two things. I only know that's what happened.
I'm so grateful to have had her in my life. I'm so blessed that for a few months I had relief from the agony inside me, because of her. My heart aches for her family, for their loss. I feel it as well.