Last Week My Children’s Dad Died

Candle and flower

We married in Las Vegas in 1997, eight days after we met. I was 26, he was 50. Twelve years and two children later he was sentenced to ten years in prison for a violent attack on me. He served half the time and was then deported. He carried out what I can only describe as a hate campaign against me, beginning in prison, and continuing from afar following the deportation. Last week he died.

I finally understand what people mean when they say “I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel.”  The usual response to that is “There is no supposed,” and of course that’s true, but it’s nevertheless an accurate reflection of where I’m at.

This isn’t a post where I want to say bad things about him – I was just giving the background so that you can understand why I would have conflicting emotions about this. My overriding emotion of course is for my children; I know what to feel for them, but I don’t know what to feel for myself. I’ve tried to focus on the fun times we had during the early years in Vegas, before everything went very bad, because holding on to negative feelings helps nobody. What’s the point in any bitterness now?

My children have been through such a lot. They were 9 and 6 when it happened, they’re 17 and 14 now. While he was in prison here in England they visited him many times, but since he was deported they’ve only seen him once. They still kept a close relationship though – emailing, messaging, speaking, a few times a week. Whatever he did, he was still their Dad and this is incredibly hard for them.

The news came early last Tuesday morning. We spent most of the day just sitting on my daughter’s bed watching the TV, interspersed with me messaging people to tell them the news, and leaping up to do little bits of housework which is my default when I’m not sure what else to do.  Every so often I would ask them a question, or share a memory about their Dad, just to give a prompt if they wanted to talk about him.

During that afternoon my daughter decided she wanted to go out with her boyfriend that evening as a distraction. So I asked my son if he wanted to go out too. He did. He chose the cinema. I took him to Five Guys for a burger first, and we were served by an extremely friendly and enthusiastic young man. After taking our order, he looked at us with a huge grin and asked “So, have you two had a good day?” and then stood there beaming at us, waiting for an answer. My son and I stared blankly at him for a couple of seconds and then both instinctively laughed. In my family we’ve always had the ability to find humour, even in the gloomiest of times, and it was nice to have that lighter moment then.

Saturday was the funeral. He had been living in the Philippines after remarrying a young woman there, so there was no way we were going to be able to travel out there. Instead we lit a candle for him at home.

It was crazy marriage from beginning to end. I wasn’t simply a blameless victim, I made plenty of mistakes too along the way, and at times I behaved badly. But we have two wonderful children out of it, and that’s the most important thing. As you can imagine there’s far more to the story than I’ve summarised here. But right now there is nothing more to say.

 

Advertisements

124 responses to “Last Week My Children’s Dad Died

  1. I’m sorry for their loss. But you know, I think you’re feeling the way you’re supposed to feel — concerned for your kids and how it affects them. That’s your job. And you’re doing it just how you’re supposed to do it.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I’m not sure what to say or if I should say anything. As far as I can think you are feeling and doing what you should. Not because people expect certain things out of you but because this is how you handle things and your kids know you love them and want them to know it’s ok to mourn their father even if it’s a different way than you do. We all handle grief differently. You two were married….you mourn your way. It’s ok.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. That’s a hard one. I like Elyse’s comment. You’re being a great Mom and that’s the important thing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, I liked Elyse’s comment to, it kind of made me feel relieved to realise that I don’t need to worry about anything other than focusing on that.

      Like

      • I guess you can just look back and pat yourself on the back that you got out of that situation, instead of creating a cycle where you stayed and lost yourself. You come across to me as a strong, genuine, fun person now…and I bet that hard time in your life helped mold you into the awesome person you are now.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. What a brave story to tell us. With sympathy to you all, for so many things. Nicola

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Wow, Vanessa, my heart absolutely goes out to you. I know what you mean about having such conflicting feelings. And I’m willing to bet we have all been there, maybe not through someone dying, but something happening where you simply don’t know how to feel/act based on past events.

    I think you’re handling things as best you can–you’re being there for your kids, and that’s your job. Keep doing that, and the rest will sort itself out. Hugs!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Kate. Yes, most people’s lives and relationships have so many layers and complications, it’s understandable really that emotions won’t always be straightforward when there are so many things feeding into them.
      Thank you, hugs accepted!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Gosh. I hope your kids can feel better soon, somehow. Funny about the guy at the restaurant. Nice to get a laugh in at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, they’ll have to go through the grieving process in their own way, and I’ll just do my best for them along the way. That over-enthusiastic guy was such a contrast to how we had been feeling all day!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Also, I’m rather impressed that you lasted 12 years with a guy you’d practically just met. Ah, Vegas. 🙂

        Like

        • Well technically 11 years because the sentencing was the following year from when it happened, but anyway, yes, it lasted surprisingly long!

          Like

          • Glad you have the memory of the good times to fall back on. Sorry you had to stay together for a year until he was put away. Uum, awkward much?

            Like

            • No sorry I didn’t explain properly, we didn’t stay together for that year, he was inside the whole time, but we had two full jury trials and the whole process of everything took many months before he was finally sentenced, by which time he had already been inside for nearly a year, and then they count that time off of the sentence.

              Like

              • Oh wow. I had no idea how the whole thing works. Thank goodness, though, right? That must have been really hard on your kids. Good thing they have a terrific, cool mom with such a great sense of humor to help them through.

                Liked by 1 person

                • I had no idea how any of it worked either till I went through it. Despite the court trials being horrendous to go through, I did actually find it interesting seeing how the whole process worked. The court trials were quite surreal really, I guess because I’d only seen them on TV before, and there I was with a jury, and a judge, and barristers, and all the other people in there, and I kept thinking about how weird it was that all this was going on because of something that had happened between me and my husband!

                  Like

                  • Wow, yeah. I can only imagine. So how are the kids now? It’s been a couple days, right? Are they feeling a little better yet? I don’t mean like, fully recovered, obviously, but getting back into sync with their lives?

                    Like

  7. The last time I spoke to my dad was…hell I don’t remember. I think I was around 17. Your kids shouldn’t have felt compelled to stay in touch with him simply because he’s their dad. Sometimes, they don’t deserve it.

    You can’t say it so I’ll say it for you. Good riddance.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I don’t know what to say but I feel for you and your family and send warm wishes for you all at the difficult time. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  9. One of the hardest things I ever had to do was file charges against my ex-husband. And I made the decision not to have his children. My heart bleeds for your children. And I think it’s possible to be compassionate for their loss and sad and glad and mad for you. A paradox that asked only to be felt. I know you have some very lovely friends who are there for you. And as the teen years are the hardest to navigate because of self-identity issues, hopefully you’ll aid in giving your children people to talk to too.
    Much much love to you Lovely Vanessa-Jane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s true, there can be all those emotions at once. And definitely agree about the children needing people to talk to – they know about everything that happened, they know more than I would have wanted them to know really, and so it’s normal that they might not feel completely free to express everything about it to me, as much as I might tell them that they can say anything to me. Thankfully they do both have good support networks beyond me. Thank you Shalagh.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Vanessa – so sorry for you and especially the kids. Obviously I had lost touch with Jerry with the prison and all. Sure seems like such a long time ago when Charly & me went to birthday’s at your home here in Vegas. Wishing you all the very best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bill – I did think about you guys actually when I wrote this post – I didn’t know whether you still followed this blog, and I didn’t know whether you had ever got back in touch with Jerry when he came out, but I wondered whether this post might be the way you found out. Yes it all does seem like such a long time ago, in many ways. I do have some good memories of Vegas though, and some lovely meals with you both. Thank you.

      Like

  11. I think you said it just right, Vanessa.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I never know what to say about such things. Sounds like you’re handling it very well, and your children have to deal with it in their own way. You being there for them will mean a great deal.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m so sorry about all this, Vanessa. I can understand being conflicted. But your children are wonderful and that’s what counts. And you and Neil found each other. He must be a great comfort.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. In the blogging world we often share the brighter sides of ourselves but the reality is that each of us have had bad and good throughout our lives and this obviously is you sharing one of your bad moments. I understand your not knowing how to feel. I felt the same way about my step mother. Though I can remember many times she did good things, the bad ones were big ones and they didn’t happen to me…but to my sisters. Though I am grateful for all the positive influences I took from the relationship, I could not forgive her for what she put my sisters through. She ruined their lives, one fortunately found her way through…the other did not.

    But, as you mentioned…it is your children’s father and no matter what he has done…he will always be there father. I think doing what your’re doing and being there for them if they need or want to talk about it is the best you can do. You allowed them to be part of his life, though that must have been difficult. It takes a lot of grace to do that.

    My thoughts are with you and your children…hoping you can at least gain some peace in your life now. Hugs and affection!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sorry for what your family went through with your step mother too! As you say, we all have bad and good through our lives. I usually like to focus on the good in mine, especially on the blog, I never wanted it to be a therapists couch, or somewhere for me to lament about things that have gone wrong, but when there’s a big life event like this, it almost feels wrong not to share it on here, when this is a personal blog about me, you know?

      Thanks very much for your thoughts, hugs and affection!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I felt the same way when sharing about my alcoholic sister’s death…it was not upbeat at all…but it was an important part of MY life. As long as it’s sprinkled with lots of good…I think we’re safe. 😉

        Like

  15. This is such a hard situation because there would have been a time when you actually did love him (I often wonder how I would feel if my ex passed even though we haven’t been together for a long time). I think I would feel quite sad for my children losing a father even though he was never really there. Love and hugs to you and the children xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dianne. Yes, and especially when you’ve had children with someone, you always have that powerful link, I’m sure it would be easier to completely detach myself from any feelings towards him if we didn’t have the children xxx

      Like

  16. Sorry for your children’s loss. It must be a difficult time for all of you, no doubt. Positive thoughts to you all as you work through this challenging time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Carrie, it’s been a difficult time for a number of years but we work against letting things get us down, and we kind of just keep going. What’s the hardest for me is knowing that the kids are always the ones who suffer the most for their parents mistakes – they truly are completely innocent victims.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m sure it must have been tough for you all these years, but at least it’s all over my friend. My thoughts are with you and your kids this hour, Vanessa. Wish I could give you a hug rather, hold you and say, that everything’s going to be okay.. Just hold on tight. 🙂

    Like

  18. Sterkte …. google it

    Liked by 1 person

  19. All the best to you and your family, Vanessa.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m sending hugs to you and your kids. I think you did an amazing job taking care of them that day and all the days before too. I can understand not knowing how you were supposed to feel.

    Like

  21. Gad, Vanessa-Jane, all I can say is that I feel for you. All the best to you and your children. I’m sure you’re all about due for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Hi Vanessa,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Thank you for being so open and brave with us, sharing your rawness and your vulnerability, and at the same time, your great compassion. My guess is, it was a very difficult part of your life to write about.
    I am sorry for you and your children’s loss. You lost the man you fell in love with a long time ago, I guess, on that fateful day he was arrested. I am sure, with your continued love and support, your children will grieve, then find an inner peace and then continue to blossom into their own future.

    I completely understand your not knowing how to feel. My mother, step father, brother and sister haven’t spoken to me since 2010. Actually, that’s not entirely true, my mother and I spoke briefly in 2012, when I tried to reconcile, but then she wrote me an email saying she didn’t want anything more to do with me.
    I was abused as a child, by both my mother and step father (my siblings are 10 and 12 years younger than me and have never really ‘got’ what went on). If I’m honest, it took me three burnouts, years of therapy, and an almost breakdown leading to an eight week hospital stay (just last year) before I finally accepted what happened to me. I know that I am much better off without the presence of my mother in my life. But at times, I still miss her. I also know she has a terminal illness. I wonder when the call will come, or even if it will come. If anyone will actually inform me…And I wonder how I will feel.

    Be kind to yourself. All of your feelings are your own feelings and are real and natural to you, so they are the right feelings for you.
    I wish you much strength in supporting your children and yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you sarsm. I’m so sorry for the horrendous things you have had to go through! It’s really hard when it’s family, you can’t quite completely detach from them, the feelings must always be there on some level. I remember a friend saying to me ages ago (referring to something about herself, and her difficult relationship with her father) – it doesn’t matter what your parents have done, and it doesn’t matter how old you are, there’s always a small part of you that will still want their approval. I think that’s very true, even if people don’t always want to admit it to themselves! There must be a little part of you that sometimes wonders if you should try again to reconcile with your mother before it’s too late, despite knowing that you’re better off without her in your life.

      My kids’ dad also had another son in the states, an adult, from his first marriage, and they had fallen out in recent years, and hadn’t made up before he died, and I do feel for him too and wonder if he’ll have regrets about that (he is in touch with my kids so that’s a good thing at least).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, both you and your friend are completely right. There is always a little part of me that wants to get back in contact.
        I’m glad to hear that children are in contact with their brother in the US, I’m sure that will help him a lot.
        Families are very complicated aren’t they?

        Liked by 1 person

  23. I can’t imagine all the conflicting emotions you must be going through, VJ, and every single one of them is justified. It seems the important thing is to do just what you’re doing – feel what you feel, and be there to support your kids. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Thank you for sharing, Vanessa. Indeed you are right in being concerned for your children and I’m sure what you feel for yourself is normal. Sorry for your loss. I send you warmest hugs. {{ ❤ }}

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Wonderfull post my friend ..
    i Like It Somuch ❤
    Would u come and visit my blog my friend ??
    i really happy if u did it ..
    https://kenikmatanpria.wordpress.com/category/english-corner/

    Like

  26. I can’t really add anything to what has been said already except I admire your candour and bravery in sharing this story with us.

    All the best to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I think you are really brave for sharing this, Vanessa. Everyone has stuff they carry with them throughout their lives, and starting discussions like this are healing for everyone. You are giving witness to the good and bad in life, the fact that no one is infallible, and that the important thing is to support each other and carry on despite adversities. Sounds like you are doing just that with your children, and they will be much stronger for it. All the very best to you. xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Certainly a stunner for all involved. What else could you possibly say other than “I don’t know how I’m suppose to feel.”?
    Despite all that happened, it isn’t simple. Not easy.
    May peace find you and sit quietly by.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Oh Vanessa I am covered with goose bumps from head to toe. Thank you for letting me know about this post and for sharing so honestly. Of course you wouldn’t know how to feel. I’m so sorry for the pain and fear you have been through. Your children are so very fortunate to have a wonderful Mom like you who would support them and a relationship with their Dad even when it had been so terrible for you. Sending big hugs across the miles and wishing healing for your kids and you. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I’ve never been in such a situation and am probably the least qualified person to express an opinion here. But I think being there for your children is a wonderful response. As you so well understand, their emotional ties and experiences differ from yours, but to me, the support, love, and understanding that you give them now is what matters most. Wishing you all strength and peace in the days ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much JM, I’m not sure that anyone is any more qualified than anyone else to give an opinion on somebody else’s situation – sometimes it’s better in fact if someone hasn’t been in the same situation because then their opinion is probably more objective, rather than tinged with their own experiences. I’ve appreciated the range of views and comments that I’ve received here; the supportive blogging community at its best! 🙂

      Like

  31. Each person’s feelings around loss are unique, but I agree with everyone who’s said that your being there for your children is a good and healthy step for all of you. They may not come to you right away – or they might do – but the understanding and compassion that comes from knowing someone is there to talk to, spend time with, and express deep emotions (or not) will bring comfort.

    I’m sorry you had to endure what you did. It shows what a magnanimous and caring person you are, though, that you offered so much freedom to your children to decide their own paths.

    My thoughts and condolences to your family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mayumi. I don’t push it with them to talk about things, but I aim to make sure there are lots of opportunities for them to do so if they want. Obviously they’ve always found it a little tricky to talk openly with me about their Dad when they know what happened between us, but when they do, I’ve tended to resist commenting in anything other than an objective way (even though I’ve wanted to say certain things as you can imagine!).

      Like

  32. Oh wow, you touched a nerve here with me. For so many reasons. First, I like you so much, even though I only know you as a blogging friend, but I have a distaste for the man who hurt you physically, and then verbally, and in many ways, got away with it. Not right, not fair, and it’s hard to mourn such a person’s death. Secondly, I have an ex who I once loved, who’s the biological father of my children, and left us when my kids were 1 and 3. I’ve never said a negative word about him to my kids. They are now adults and have a minimal relationship with him. They had a ‘real’ dad with my husband, who adopted them when they were still very young. But still. A biological father is still connected in some way to all of us, and in your case, to all of you. It’s a tricky situation. I think you handled it graciously and generously….for your kids’ sake. I admire you.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. ‘Your children’s dad’ That sounded mean but who are we to judge.

    Like

  34. This post is really a personal testament to your character and your love as a mother, Vanessa. How are things going with the children and you?

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I remember seeing this. Somehow, a peaceful ending to a tumultuous life. Hope the kids are doing okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Pingback: How Do You Feel About Tattoos? | Vanessa-Jane Chapman

  37. How did I miss this post? Wow. You are a strong woman, Vanessa-Jane! I’m sure you’ve gone through all kinds of waves since then including relief. Nothing wrong with that if you’ve been abused.

    Liked by 1 person

Anything you'd like to say? Now's your chance...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s