> No More Secrets And Lies: Grace's Dreamcatcher

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Grace's Dreamcatcher

          Most of us greet the warmth and excitement of the rising sun as the assurance of a new day. But others wake in the morning after a restless sleep, to a day of darkness – a void that will never again be filled.This is the pain of losing a child. Loss of any kind is traumatic, but the loss of a child is truly devastating. It may be the ultimate loss we humans can ever experience on earth. ... We can try to learn to live with the pain, but such an event alters our lives forever.
                                            – From Growing Up In Heaven: The Eternal Connection
                                                     Between Parent and Child by James Van Praagh

Every time I move to a new place I take Grace's dreamcatcher with me and hang it over my bed. I like to think it protects me from bad dreams or bad somethings – maybe memories of the two of us together that were wonderful at one time but are too painful now to think about. That's probably it.

This little tangle of sticks and yarn might not look like much to most people but it means the world to me. Grace made it when she was very young and she always kept it hanging over her bed at my house. It's one of the few mementos I still have of hers along with a few school papers, a book or two, some toys, and some clothes that are too small for her now: things she left behind when she left my house six years ago and never came back. A nightmare that still haunts me. A nightmare I'm still trying to recover from.

I want these memories, of course, of both her and Mary, but at the same time they terrify me. The heartbreaking realization that my little girls are gone from my life is a reality I cope with everyday, but it's also one I can't quite acknowledge yet as being true. It seems too impossible to be true.

We were too close for this to be true.

It was never supposed to be like this. We were supposed to grow old together. I was supposed to be there when she graduated from high school and see her off to college. I would know about her first serious crush, her last exam, and her first timid steps into a career. We would have heartfelt phone calls when she was homesick and comforting calls on our birthdays, and I would grow old alongside her while she grew into a family of her own with children who would one day call me grandpa.

That was how it was supposed to be. That was the story I grew up with and hung on to from the time I was her age. That was the story that shaped my life and had a lot to do with decisions I made during my life.

It's a story we all know:

You know, you have kids, they grow up, you and your children relate to each other as adults; your kids have kids, and then before long you're one big happy family that calls each other on birthdays, sends cards on father's days, and gets together on holidays and other special days to celebrate family and children and grandchildren... and memories

Lots of memories.

And like most fathers, I knew this would be my story too like it had been for my parents and their parents and so on back countless generations. There was no reason to think otherwise. In my wildest dreams I couldn't think of any reason it wouldn't be like this.

But now it looks like it won't be like this. This probably won't be my story. There are already no birthdays or holidays together. I've already missed important milestones and events in my girls' lives. And unless something changes, there won't be any grandchildren either, at least none that I know of. Because that's the way it is for severely alienated parents. That is, that's how it is for parents who have lost complete contact with their children, especially for as long as I have. For us parents, the prognosis for reunification with our children is highly unlikely.

And as you can imagine, this is an extremely difficult reality for me to accept, and an even harder one to believe. And it's why all the memories of the years we had together only make me sad for the years we won't have together, but should.

And it's why all of it still feels like a dream: a painfully sad dream lurking out there on the edge of my consciousness – troublesome to forget, impossible to ignore, no matter how far away I get or how long it's been. Losing a child to parental alienation is a nightmare we parents can only hope to wake up from some day.

But until that day comes, I'll keep Grace's dreamcatcher right where it is, above my bed.


arnold scheer said...

Hi John, can i somehow subscribe on your blog? Greetings from a partner in crime ( alienated father)

John Brosnan said...

Hey Arnold. I'm not exactly sure how blogger let's people subscribe. There's a "Follow by email" text box on the right side of this page it looks like.

Thanks for asking. I like that "partner in crime.' Cute. Crimes we didn't commit but are still somehow guilty for .

I'm currently turning the first part of this blog into a book and haven't been writing articles for the blog as much lately. Send my your email address, if you want, and I'll keep you posted.

Thanks -- John

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