Reinvention of Me: Forgiveness

It always seems impossible until it is done. -Credited to Nelson Mandela

Indeed what is there that does not appear marvellous, when it comes to our knowledge for the first time? How many things, too, are looked upon as quite impossible, until they have been actually effected? -Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia

Of course it is Utopian and impossible until it is done. A thousand things which were impossible twenty years ago are so common today as to pass without comment. -Elbert Anderson Young, speech printed in Wilshire’s Magazine, Number 56, “A House Divided”

Dr. Jefferson brushed it aside. “Everything is theoretically impossible, until it’s done. One could write a history of science in reverse by assembling the solemn pronouncements of highest authority about what could not be done and could never happen.” -Robert A. Heinlein, Between Planets

“Yes, indeed,” they repeated together; “but if we’d told you then, you might not have gone—and, as you’ve discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.” -Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

I am not a scientist, so I will leave the theories to other, better qualified people.

But this is a truth in my life: Overcoming [fill-in-the-blank] is impossible until it isn’t.

There was a time I thought I would never be able to look back on this day eight years ago with only joy and no take-backs. There was a time when I could not speak of my suicide plan. There was a time I could not conceive of letting my children out the door every day. There was a time when all was fear and panic and impossibilities.

There was a time Before. Everything Before felt impossible, insurmountable. Now the impossible is happening swiftly. I must be wary of an After I hope never arrives.

The After flows down again into the belly of depression and anxiety. It dilutes the usefulness of Now. It seeks to pull me under, where I have been Before. All my life I must guard against relapse. I must work to ensure my thinking remains clear.

It seems impossible that After will not come. It seems impossible that Now will abide. This is why I take the words in The Phantom Tollbooth to heart: not knowing the impossibility may be exactly the thing that makes it possible. While Now is here, I have work to do.

I have released my resentment toward my past selves. I have trashed the notion of my mediocre motherhood. I have let go my cloying need for more sweet babies. Of the things remaining undone, one thing must be complete before April 18th can be only joy.

You should know, I cheated. This exercise – writing these words – this exists to remind me in case I forget. But the hard part is over.

I thought it would be impossible to forgive the woman who hurt my children and our family and me. And then I did.

To the woman who abused my trust, my heart, my children:

This day eight years ago I cried all day long. Alone with my newborn in my hospital room, everyone gone to work, the depression that had been mounting throughout my pregnancy broke open after I learned of your cancer diagnosis and surgery. I thought of how very close you had been to us. I remembered Eldest and Middling crying sometimes when I came home and you left them. I didn’t want them to lose you. I didn’t want to lose you.

You were close when my mom was far away. Your grey, flyaway hair and your peaceful smile were welcome attractions in our daily lives, busy as we were. I mourned you on April 18, 2008.

My depression swelled from there. How aware you were, I do not know. But you returned to keeping the children at the end of my maternity leave, and we were immensely grateful. That fall, you saved my life when you called in sick, when I tore the note to you off the door, when I removed the cords, when I called my doctor for help. For that unintentional gift, I will be forever thankful.

I do not think you always hurt them. No. I am quite sure something shifted after your surgery. I’ve gone over it a million times. Did you have a small stroke during the operation? Did the medications alter you? Because I desperately needed to know why you hurt three little boys after loving them (as they arrived) for nearly four years.

For a long while we attributed your disquiet to our move across town, your longer commute, your recovery. But came the day we accidentally discovered your venom.

I’m sure you remember. My father stopped by my house and found Eldest locked out. He was four. Then my father confronted you. And you said vile things to him, about him and about the rest of us. You left and I never saw you again, though I have sometimes wondered what I might do if I did lay eyes on you.

Husband and I were called away from work and told all that had happened. I was distraught, but I was never disbelieving. I had no suspicions and it was all so horrible, but I had known you were different.

I wrote you a letter of termination and we delivered it to you at your house. I couldn’t face you. Husband took the letter to you, along with your final pay.

Your presence has remained with us and may always do so.

See, Eldest adored you. So when you told him he was evil, that he would be a killer, that he was the devil – he believed you.

Middling was a toddler. You established this line between him and Eldest where one was victim and the other tormentor – but that was in your mind. It wasn’t real.

Third, beautiful boy. You ignored him. He could not tell us that. But you did.

The day you left our home, my father and Husband changed every lock in the house and added chain locks. Do you know why? I feared you spoke truthfully when you said you would come back for Middling. I feared you would come here and enter and be gone with my son.

Not even one year after mourning your cancer, I was mourning the cancer you inflicted on us. My depression seemed to lift in the face of this breach. I began to mother and stay home and make plans for my family. But my body betrayed me, too, as it so often has. I began falling, passing out, as many as six times a day. It wasn’t until 2011 that conversion disorder was diagnosed. It wasn’t until 2016 that I could stand up and say what I thought impossible: I forgive you.

I forgive you for changing.

I forgive you for the lies you told Eldest.

I forgive you for the lasting impression you left on Eldest.

I forgive you for the fear and anger Eldest experienced when, four years after you left, he believed he might die at any time and that he would deserve it.

I forgive you for fashioning two-year-old Middling into a victim he was never meant to be.

I forgive you for the damaged relationship you created between Middling and Eldest.

I forgive you for ignoring Third.

I forgive you for locking Eldest out, and I forgive you the awful things you said to him before you left.

I forgive you for the terrible lies you said to my father.

I forgive you for giving me reason to fear and distrust.

I forgive you for the lies you told about us to others, including to our church home, that we were abusers, that Middling was not safe with us. I forgive you for the same lies spun to any others, which we’ll never know.

I forgive you for every mite of wrong you did to us.

I forgive you for eight years of fallout and for any more that comes in the future.

You are nothing in my daily life now. You were, Before, once upon a time, something important enough for me to mourn, then something important enough for me to loathe. Now I am done.

Now the boys can say your name without causing the ache of weeping in my throat. Now they can remember whatever fond things about you they cling to, and there are few. Now they can ask why you hurt them, and I can answer without emotion.

You ensured we would not ever forget you. But we are free of you. And getting freer every second.

Consider yourself released from every emotion of mine, from my fear, from my anger, from my sorrow, from every facet of my existence, save one. I will keep one thought of you in the sterile, crystalline, operating room of my mind for this singular purpose: to teach me how very strong we are without you.

And I don’t stop there. I also forgive myself and Husband for not seeing this situation sooner. I forgive our church leaders for examining us after you called them with your lies and for never telling us you called until Eldest was in dire need of spiritual rebuilding. I forgive you for every dividing line you ever devised among us or between us and others.

We were broken. You broke us in ways we are still learning. But you don’t get to keep us. Not any part of us. Like a gangrenous limb, you have been excised from our lives and stripped from my heart. Like a cancer, you have been irradiated by our love and our hard work of healing.

And I sit here, burning these words to you and the paper that housed them – an act that would have been impossible Before.

But this is Now.


Review: A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos by Linda Brendle

As an author with Anaiah Press, I have the privilege to review Anaiah’s releases. The first release is A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos by Linda Brendle, and I have waited fairly patiently to read it. Before a proper review, however, a few disclaimers:

  1. My parents lived in an RV, traveling the contiguous U.S. and Canada for my father’s work as a funeral home OSHA inspector. In the early days (and some late days) I thought this was a crazy way to live. I mean, who could stand all that travel? Why would anyone commit themselves to such a small space for such a long time? Of course, I’d lived in the same house on a hill in rural Oklahoma for all of my first 17 years, so the logic of small and nomadic was…foreign.
  2. My first real encounter with Alzheimer’s occurred when I met my husband’s grandmother for the first time. He had tried to prepare me, but I was unprepared. Catherine, a name that lives close to my heart now, was so progressed in the disease that she was forever locked away inside herself. No longer capable of speech or free mobility, Catherine received the loving care of her patient and husband.
  3. I, like everyone, have two grandmothers. They were different in many ways but they both loved me. Both of their earthly stories drew to close in dementia. My mother was a caregiver for her mother. My father provided support but lived too far away to be a daily caregiver for his mother.
  4. My mother is on a liver transplant waiting list. One effect of a diseased liver is the build up of ammonia in the body, which impacts brain activity. Ammonia disruption ebbs and flows with the disease, and I’ve watched my mother and father wrestle with when dementia is in play and when it is not. We’ve all learned the signs and symptoms, and, thankfully, medical intervention can continuously whisk away the ammonia and its impact.

In equal parts, I wanted Ms. Brendle’s book and I didn’t. I thought, as you might be thinking, that it would be altogether too difficult to read. And I thought there would be comfort in reading it. I also thought, she must be insane to take two people with dementia out of their daily living situations to an existence that was new every day!

Linda Brendle writes a ‘creative memoir’ based on a travel journal written while on an extended road trip in an RV with her parents, both of whom suffered dementia. The book maintains the travelogue essence with a dash of looking forward and backward to give moments clarity and significance.

I somewhat know how life with dementia patients is, so I was initially thrown by the book’s ability to select moments from different times and weave them together. But this aspect became a strength of the book because it revealed the process of living through a complicated time. In the moment, things can be frustrating and dark, so much so that you cannot see anything else. Reflection is key to survival and key to this book. Ms. Brendle reflects on life at different stages to place the frustrating, dark moments in context. In so doing, she relieves the reader of the pressure of every moment and guides the reader through reality-plus-reflection. The writing is not laden with the ugly sides of caregiving because those bits are consistently buoyed by brightness.

Just as I still don’t think I’d move into an RV for my husband’s job, I don’t think I’d take an extended vacation with two dementia patients in an RV. But I can appreciate those who do. From my parents’ love of the road, I learned to appreciate their lifestyle. From Ms. Brendle’s attitude of taking life as it comes, I learned to appreciate her choices. I also learned that daily life rhythms exist everywhere. What first may seem pedestrian – washing dishes, watching water levels, settling – are the very details that provide the rhythm to the reader and, I feel certain, to the real lives shared in this book.

Today, while you celebrate Independence Day (if you’re American, that is), consider all the forms independence takes. Our forefathers sought independence from monarchical rule. Our nation still fights over independence from a great many institutions. I take this opportunity to honor the soldiers, their families, and all who dedicate their lives in any portion to serving our nation’s independence, most especially when we cannot all agree on what that means. I also take this opportunity to honor each person, American or otherwise, who strives daily for independence – from tyranny, certainly, but also from disease, from bad decisions, from whatever ills plague us. National independence and personal independence are too interrelated to ever be completely separated. Without a national independence, our personal independence wavers and falls. Without our personal independence, our national independence wavers and falls. This is the crux of Ms. Brendle’s book and the reason I chose to review her book today. By maintaining her independence – to travel as she willed – she supported her parents’ independence on a level they could achieve and sustain. Such is the striving of us all.

Happy Independence Day! May you maintain your independence to support the sustainable independence of others!


Released by Anaiah Press


Sometimes reality really bites. Alzheimer’s has wrapped Mom’s brain into knots, vascular dementia has attacked Dad, and, instead of carefree retirees, we have become caregivers. Regardless, dreams die hard, and we somehow stumbled into the purchase of a forty-foot motor home. That’s when all four of us set out on this seven-week trek across sixteen U.S. states. Now, Dad stopped-up the toilet again, Mom wet her last pair of clean jeans, and David just announced that he was hungry. My head is beginning to pound, and I know this isn’t going to be the easygoing retirement we’d imagined for ourselves.

Linda Brendle takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotional and spiritual challenges that many families are facing right now. Co-dependency, mental breakdowns, and finding love after divorce are just a few of the issues weaved into this journey of caregiving. Whether you’re looking for an inspirational story to help teach you how to “let go and let God,” considering becoming the caregiver for one of your own parents, or are just looking for an entertaining travel book, this story is sure to strike a tender nerve.

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A Bit About Linda Brendle

After 15 years as a family caregiver, Linda began writing to encourage, inspire and amuse other caregivers. She loves to travel and since retiring has traveled mostly by motorcycle and RV. She and her husband live in a small East Texas town where she gardens, writes and attends church.

Linda Brendle’s Site




A Bit About Anaiah Press

Anaiah Press is a Christian digital-first publishing house dedicated to presenting quality faith-based fiction and nonfiction books to the public. Our goal is to provide our authors with the close-knit, hands-on experience of working with a small press, while making sure they don’t have to sacrifice quality editing, cover art, and marketing. Books will begin to be released in digital formats beginning in Summer

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