Betrayed. Deserted. Determined to keep life at a distance.
Leigha grew up in a happy home with a loving mom who had become her best friend. During her first year in college her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and decided not to tell Leigha. When her mom passed away Leigha felt angry, betrayed and deserted, and refused to deal with her grief. Over the years she knew the darkness of grief’s valley of the shadow of death waited for her to enter and pass through as many have before her. Yet she still harboured her feelings of betrayal and worthlessness.
Running from her grief and her memories Leigha hid herself for years in the faceless crowd of a large metropolis. Slamming the door on her past she settled on two life rules – don’t go home and don’t get emotionally involved.
With one urgent phone call she decided to break one rule. For five years the black chasm called grief waited patiently for her and now the time had come to face her anger and loss. She soon discovered a treasure left behind by her mom. She learned the truth of her mother’s final days on this earth and the love that left behind a treasure. It changed her perspective and brought forgiveness.
And before she realized, she was well on the way to breaking her second rule.
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Chapter from Never Midnight
She recalled the day she left for college. She was so excited. Her life had been a fairy tale – a happy childhood filled with love, learning and life. She grew up in a loving home, in a safe community, and on an exceptionally beautiful island that invited her daily to explore every part of the island. When young, she and her mother were inseparable adventurers. As she grew up, her mother had become a trusted friend. Her mother taught her to love the land, love the water and love the potential of each day. She’d dearly loved her mom. She was an exceptional woman who opened her eyes to a world full of things to learn, people to engage, and opportunities to investigate. Leaving for college seemed a big exciting step into a world of exciting options. That day she’d hugged her mom goodbye silently thanking her for showing her a world of possibilities.
Like people remembering where they were and what they were doing when Kennedy was assassinated or when the World Trade Towers collapsed, she remembered the day, the hour, the very moment when she heard her mother had passed away. It was the ground zero juncture when her world exploded apart. The clarity of the memory brought with it a biting sting.
For five years she’d refused any recollection of memories of that autumn – not even a tentative glance back. She feared not only the pain of grief but the bitter agony of betrayal. And with that thought, the dam burst. She pulled over and wept deeply. Violent sobs shook her. Five years was a long time to hold back the flood of pain. But the crack in the dam had finally opened and she knew she faced the full crush of emotions. She got out of her car, walked around to the passenger side, opened the door and sat facing the nearby farmer’s field. If she was going to face her grief and anger, best she be looking at her mother’s beloved nature and not the concrete world of her escape.
Oh Mom, I do miss you so much – beyond words, beyond thoughts. If I’m honest my heart still longs for you. I can no longer just call you up and tell you about the exciting things in my life. I wasn’t expecting your death and it ripped out my heart. All I loved, all the bright shiny things of my day and my future suddenly dimmed.
I buried my love of the land, the love of the water, the love of nature with you. I lost you and I lost all I loved about life and about this world. My beautiful childhood memories are now all tainted with a sense of meaningless illusion.
I thought we were best friends. I thought we were closer than sisters, yet you chose to keep your illness from me. Why? Why would you do that? Did you not trust me? Did you not value our relationship? Did you not love me enough to let me be there for you? Why would you deny me an opportunity to say goodbye? You cut me off. You cut me out. And I don’t understand it at all. Was I completely wrong about our relationship? Do you realize because of you I walked away from all I loved about life?
Do you know I’ve never gone back home? Do you know I now have no home? I live in Montreal, but it is not a place I call home. Although Maine is home, I’ve had to abandon it. I just couldn’t face all the memories of you. I wouldn’t be able to escape you there. I know Dad has wanted me to come home, but I didn’t want you breaking through my wall and forcing me to confront the devastation you brought on me by shutting me out.
In one day I lost my mother. I lost my best friend. I lost my love of nature, land and ocean. I lost my home and my community. I lost my past because I shut down my memories. I lost my sense of self worth and I think you thought very little of me to determine I was not good enough to stand as a friend to the end. In all, I lost myself. I walked away from me to get away from you.
Why would you keep your illness from me? You took from me the time needed to come to terms with your illness and passing.
Her denied grief, her feelings of betrayal and desertion all hit with the powerful force of water breaking through a tall dam. She was swept away in her sorrowful loss. An acute crushing pain filled her chest. A mental fog of blackness blanketed her thoughts. She was caught up in the tumultuous and tortuous pounding of water tossing her from misery to misery.
This was the very reason she’d refused to deal with her feelings of her mother’s lost battle with cancer and the betrayal she felt because she was denied the chance to be with her mom and to say goodbye. She blankly looked across the fields and felt she’d been dashed and damaged by the wild flow of emotions.
She recalled the day her dad called her to tell her. “Leigha I’m so sorry to tell you, but your mother passed away this morning.” She remembered not understanding the words at first. They made no sense. She’d just left home six weeks ago and her mom was fine. She remembered snippets of the call…
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