I have 3 daughters, 2 are grown, married and with children. They are successful entrepreneurs as well. Then there’s my middle daughter Cara. Cara was incredibly talented. She could draw and paint (see attached). She could play the piano like you never saw. Yet, she never used those talents.
Cara was diagnosed w Borderline Personality Disorder when she was 16. A terrible, terrible illness that robs you of your essence. She never really bought into treatment for it, that could have helped her, and consequently had a very difficult life. She wasn’t close with her sisters and mother, a great sadness for them and for her. They loved each other unquestionably. But there was this wall….
I was her only ongoing link with the family. We had a difficult relationship to say the least. But I never abandoned her. What kind of father abandons his daughter? I didn’t want to be that person. She died, alone, on June 27th of a pulmonary embolism at the age of 41.
I have some memories of Cara that have been on my mind in the last week or so and I’d like to share them with you. They were subtle turning points in her life, and therefore in my life too.
Cara was always different, even when she was a child. My Mom said to me once: “she doesn’t say anything”. I just said “she’s just quiet Mom, she’s a quiet child, that’s all”. My Mom became very close with Cara after that. She understood, as only a mother could.
Another memory is of when Nancy and I returned from a trip. Cara was just at the beginning of her illness, maybe 15. When I got home she hugged me. But it was different from any time before or since. It was a long deep hug. She had her arms around me and I could feel with her left hand she just kind of grabbed my back and held on for what seemed like…a long time. I realized at that moment something really serious was happening. And I knew it was not good. That was my gut feeling. And I was right – she was not headed in a good direction.
Once she got older, and made the choices she did, some very unhealthy, I was never able to meet her where she was. And I’m good at that. That’s an ability I have. But not with her.
God knows I tried. But there was this wall between us too. I could never breach it. Part of it I built, to protect myself. The other part she built. I was ready to take mine down. I wanted to take it down. But it never happened.
I never knew if I did too much, or not enough with Cara. The illness made it impossible to know. As a consequence, self forgiveness is a big issue for me. My friend Jim says its more about self-acceptance: accepting that what you did was the best you could under the circumstances. I’m working through all that. Probably will for a long time.
Cara, maybe now you can understand in a way I still can’t. Rest In Peace darling.