Dear Amanda

4/10/09

“Niki,

I wanted to let you know I did make it back from Texas. Was planning on heading back to the old rehab place but Michael is filing for an emergency hearing for full custody of Aidan. With all that has happened and my mom testifying against me chances are he will be granted custody of him. My mom was the one who emailed him to let him know all the problems we’ve been having.

I can’t even come up with enough energy to cry about it anymore. Maybe he is the better parent for Aidan right now. I don’t have a leg to stand on or a really good excuse.

I’ve been fighting my ex for almost 6 years now. Three years for the divorce and three and a half of Aidan’s life for custody. I can’t remember not fighting him for something, like my life back. Now it seems like he finally found the weak link in my chain and is going to take everything.

I’ll try to call but I’m not up to much except sitting with Aidan for the next week or so before some judge decides my life. I’m not ready for this or even sure how I will even get through this if it does go wrong. Starting over alone at 30 isn’t sounding too damn appealing right this minute. I’ll let you know what happens and hopefully it won’t be as bad as it seems right now.

Amanda”

5/24/13

Dear Amanda,

That was the last email you ever wrote me. And this reply comes very late. Four years late. Much too late, as you know, because I found out yesterday that you are dead.

Scott recognized your picture in a Facebook group attached to a profile with a different name. He clicked on that and discovered it was your mother, and the picture of you was in memoriam. It didn’t take him long afterward to find your obituary in the local paper, dated November 2012. It said you had succumbed to a “lifelong illness” and I knew immediately that meant you had drank yourself to death.

I wrote your mother and she confirmed my suspicion. Told me you’d passed away on Thanksgiving. My first thought was: “Oh God, her poor little boy.” My second: “Could I have made a difference? Could I have helped her?”

Because I didn’t help you. I didn’t think I could. And as you began to take more and more prescription drugs, lose more and more of your grip on reality and spin more and more out of control, I chose to distance myself. It’s not the first time I’ve quietly bowed out of the life of a drug addict and/or alcoholic; my best friend, my first husband….the list is long. But what I loved about those people is also what usually causes me grief, and a touch of guilt, like I failed them. Like I failed you.

And I know better. But my head knows lots of things my heart never will.

What I wish to tell you is that I love you. That I will never forget you helping me pick out my wedding dress, gifting me the best housewares, giving me a crib, changing table, playpen, stroller, alongside so many other items I hardly needed to shop for my baby (and you had the very BEST taste), our small adventure crossing into Mexico, those months we spent becoming close, before you started slipping away, I remember all of it. That your son and your dog Kujo were the kings of your world. That you were whip-smart, beautiful and so funny.

And I feel guilty as hell for having avoided you in the last years of your molten lava mess of a life.

But not only do I know there’s little I could have done for you (I’m out of the “saving people” business, leavin’ that one to Jesus, I guess), I also know that I was at high risk of enabling you – or, much worse, being sucked down with you. My propensity for self-destruction is a forever threat. My distant past is riddled with it, and ever since I became a mother I have worked terribly hard to remain as healthy a human being as my demons will allow. That means being cautious about those I get close to, and distancing myself from those that invite the “cray-cray.”

Still, I am so damn sorry your own demons ate you alive. Sorry for you, sorry for your family and my heart absolutely breaks for your son. And the news of your demise rattles me most deeply because I know if it weren’t for a small tweak of genetic wiring, and a few twists and turns of fate, your story and your end could very well have been my own.

I feel like I should be learning something from this, but as yet I’ve no idea what. I still think it’s a good idea for me to keep destructive peeps at arm’s length. But whatever the point is (assuming there’s a stinking point to all the pain in all the universe), I wish you peace. I hope you know peace now and that you’re properly prepared for your next adventure. For I believe in reincarnation, and I believe the name of that cyclical game is called “Don’t fuck it up next time.”

And you would have laughed at that.

Love Eternal,
Niki

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