How We Got Here–Chapter 5
Happy Wedding Day! I can’t believe this day is finally here after 12 years! I can’t wait!
I know things have been awkward for us lately. I didn’t mean to hurt you or the rest of the family with my choice to elope with Peter. I know you didn’t approve of us marrying after only three months of dating, but believe me, I know I made the right choice.
I know it must be hard to believe that I was dating someone, let alone that I would marry someone after three months of dating, since I hadn’t dated anyone in over a decade and we both know why…because of Damien.
Even though I was seventeen, I knew Damien was the love of my life, just like you knew Dad was the love of your life. I really thought that we would live happily ever after, we had a strong year-long relationship and he was happy about the baby (yes we were also terrified, we were ridiculously young, not dumb). I’ve never forgotten how furious you were at me when I told you I was pregnant, while I was worried that you were going to throw me out of the house, in that moment, I was more worried about you having a stroke. Michael was furious too, but as much as he tried to be like a father, his whole fatherly role didn’t really take with me, I mean we’re only four years apart, how could he expect it to? Your opinion mattered to me the most and I was heartbroken to see you so furious and disappointed in me and I know why.
As a parent, especially to so many kids, I imagine the thought of history repeating itself and one of us either falling pregnant or getting a girl pregnant must have crossed your mind, but I’m guessing from your reaction at the time, either you didn’t think it was going to happen or you really didn’t expect it to. Looking back on it now, with all of us in adulthood, out of all of us, did you think it would be me?
Of course Damien and I never intended to fall pregnant, we did use contraception, but it just happened. Even though we were scared, we were happy at the thought of it. I appreciated that even though you were more furious than anyone of us had ever seen you, that you still looked after me. I really was expecting you to kick me out of home, like your own parents did, but I’m forever grateful you didn’t and I’m guessing you didn’t want repeat that history yourself. Even though you didn’t like the thought of becoming a grandmother at 38, I saw the tears in your eyes at the first ultrasound and knew that somehow, everything would be okay.
August 19th 1997 will be a day that I’ll never forget. It’s funny how much you try to prepare and worry for everything in life, all of the dangers of the world, putting plans in place, yet driving home from a date and getting into an accident is the thing that really turns your life upside down. The last thing I can clearly remember was driving through the intersection, the green light right in my face, and seeing a bright light in the corner of my right eye. I’m glad that I didn’t see the impact that Damien endured and I vaguely remember the feeling of the blood leaking out of me and the pressure of the dashboard on my legs and then I remember waking up with you, Travis and Michael around my hospital bed. It took me a minute to realise that the funny feelings in my legs were the casts around them and you told me about everything else—my broken ribs, my concussion, my spleen removal, my internal bleeding, my three day catnap and the worst of all, my miscarriage and Damien’s death.
The funny thing is that I didn’t feel like my life was over when I found out I was pregnant, I felt like it was over when you told me that Damien and my baby, my little 12-week old jellybean had died. They made me happy for the first time in the five years since dad died and they were just ripped out of my life by a drunk driver. I never thought I would be happy again, I never wanted to get out bed, although luckily I ended up hating the hospital bed and meals.
I hated going to Damien’s funeral but I never regretted it. I needed to say goodbye but I hated everyone looking at me. Most of them pitied me, some of Damien’s relatives couldn’t stand that I survived and he didn’t, his parents were nice but I don’t think they wanted to be near me either. It wasn’t like I wasn’t racked with survivor’s guilt but they didn’t think of that did they! No-one but you and the others thought about my grief or asked me how I was going. There was a part of me that was glad I miscarried so I wouldn’t have to deal with Damien’s family ever again after all that, and then having that thought added to my guilt.
As much as I wanted to stay in bed, bury myself in my doona and never leave the house again, I hated being in constant pain and I knew had to put myself back together sooner or later. I don’t know if you know this, I’m guessing you were probably told at some point but Suzanne, Cassie and Carrie took me out for a girls’ day, not to make me forget about what happened, but to make me remember that life was worth living.
I did have a good time and it cheered me up, but what really stood out for me was Suzanne’s help. She gave me the cards of all the physios and doctors that she knew could help me (I think most of them were actually lecturers at her and Michael’s uni), and the number for a support group for women who suffered miscarriages. Her need to take charge and take care of me, that sisterly/maternal instinct, even though she barely knew any of us, reminded me so much of Michael, that I knew that she was the right woman for him.
We both knew that physically going back to school would be impossible due to the wheelchair and my other injuries, but I also knew I still wanted to finish. I was grateful for being able to finish school at TAFE, the adult environment was what I really needed, I couldn’t stand the thought of the other people in my year staring at me and asking questions. I especially appreciated the adult environment more when Suzanne and Michael would take me to their uni’s library to study for my exams. Although I knew I didn’t want to study medicine, I really felt at home and it was then I knew I wanted to go to uni.
I’m guessing you were probably glad and relieved that I didn’t rush out to find another boyfriend—both when I was finishing school and when I went to uni. The truth is that Damien really was the love of my life and after all the pain of losing him and our baby, I couldn’t imagine and I didn’t want to fall in love again. All that’s left now of him, our baby and the accident is my tattoos with his initials and a jellybean, as well as all the scars on my legs and these memories. I focused on my career so much not only because it was my dream, but also because if I wasn’t going to have love in my life, then my career was going to be pretty damn amazing!
I never thought I would find love again and believe me I didn’t want to. I knew when I met Peter, even when I was interviewing him for my new job at CNN, that he was something special, but I couldn’t stand the thought of any possible heartbreak. Peter was persistent, almost to the point of annoyance, but what really changed for me was his reaction when I told him everything.
This tough, popular, manly man, who had survived three crashes himself on the track, had a tear in his eye and he hugged me. Neither of us said anything for a little while, we didn’t know what to say. I had let out 11 years of sealed off heartbreak and he didn’t know what to say or at least not at first. I could feel his arm move slightly as he was hugging me, to wipe away a tear, he let me go, looked me in the eye and said “I’m not going anywhere.” It sounds cliché I know, but the last time I heard this was out of Damien’s mouth, with Peter I believed him, but I also took it with a grain of salt. It’s a cruel irony that my second and hopefully last true love turned out to be a race car driver. I hope history doesn’t repeat itself with him.
I know I disappointed you, everyone, with my choice to elope with him, especially since you never got the chance to meet him until now. I know you and everyone else think that we’re moving too fast but with the way I felt and with my experience with Damien, I, we didn’t want to waste any time. We’re here now and everyone seems to like him, I can see that you like him, I think the guys are happy that there’s another man in the family. I’m sorry that you and everyone missed out on a wedding, but we just wanted it to be us.
There’s one thing that we won’t make everyone miss out on. I wasn’t originally going to say anything as I didn’t want to take the attention off you and Travis, but since you’re the only one who will be reading this letter, I thought it would be the best way to tell you. I’m pregnant….with twins!
I’m only 10 weeks in, they’re happy, healthy, and fraternal not identical. We’re both excited, but don’t tell Peter this, I’m a little scared. I’m scared of losing them and history repeating itself. I know this kind of history repeating itself is highly unlikely, but when you and Travis come back from your honeymoon, can you please tell me that you’re happy about this, this time around and reassure me that everything will be okay? I know I’m going to be a mummy myself soon, but I’ll never stop needing you.
I hope my letter didn’t depress you or take you on an emotional rollercoaster, I didn’t want that to happen. I just wanted you to understand where I was coming from and why I made the choice that I made and I want you to be happy with me again.
We’ve both found a second true love, I love that we have this in common and again I’m sorry that you missed out on my wedding, but I definitely won’t miss out on yours. I can’t wait to see you repeating history with your second true love.
Have a wonderful day, I love you and Travis so much.
Lots of Love.