18 September 2010


There's the disappointment of not getting a job you know you're qualified for. On a lesser scale, there's the disappointment of going to the fridge with your mouth set for a pimento cheese sandwich, to find someone else finished off all but half a teaspoon of the pimento cheese.

And there's the disappointment of making plans for a new life, spending weekends looking at houses, spending evenings planning a wedding, and then having the rug jerked out from under you.

As often happens, it's not my story to tell. But my beautiful daughter is heartbroken, her erstwhile fiance is oblivious to the harm he's done, and we all feel betrayed. After four and a half years, you start to think you can trust a person. And then he decides he can't commit.

Two weekends ago, she and I sat in the shade of the patio of a pub on Bardstown Road, talking about music and houses and the possibility of having the rehearsal dinner at my house - or even at hers. This weekend, she's reeling, and I can't do a thing to help.

We all want things for our children. Even us old "anti-establishment" lefty types, who raised them to question authority and taught them well that there are more important things in life than amassing a fortune. As kids go, I think I did well. I have three young adults with strong principles, who won't give up those principles for convenience or profit. They're all compassionate, literate, articulate, and committed to what they believe is right. They share a strong - even intense - work ethic. They want to do work that will improve the world; if it pays well, that's just gravy. They are people of faith. Theirs may not in all cases be mainstream, establishment-approved faith, but it is theirs, and they are better people for it. And they're people of action; they don't sit and wait for good things to come to them. They roll up their sleeves and get busy making good things happen.

I think it's a positive thing that my daughter places a higher value on service, social justice, and the environment than she does on a big fat paycheck. Sure, the fat paycheck would be nice, especially since she graduated just in time for the recession (thank you, Dubya) with five digits' worth of school loans. So far, she's still looking for a job that will pay enough to live on AND make payments to the Student Loan People. But she's not sitting and moping - she's working two jobs, and in her vast quantities of spare time, she's applying for jobs that will cover both life and loans.

Other people raised their children differently. There's not anything inherently wrong about that - one of the hard facts of being a card-carrying liberal is that you have to grant people the right to do things in ways you wouldn't. But I do think there's something tragic about a family that rejects its children if they choose love over a higher income. It's a fate that's actually come about with one of the erstwhile fiance's cousins; he's apparently persona non grata these days, after giving up a high-paying job to move closer to the woman he loves. My guess is that the EF could see it happening to him, if he actually followed through with marrying a woman with high ideals and a big balance in the school loan department. And who refused to file bankruptcy to get out of paying the loans.

In the long run, it's for the best. Go ahead and get the heartbreak out of the way while there's no community property and no children involved. Deal with the disappointment while you can still move on.

But the disappointment is very real, and it hurts. My daughter hurts from the rejection, from being told, in essence, that she's inadequate. I hurt for my daughter. And I hurt for myself and the rest of my family, because we fell for it, too. We trusted him to love our girl enough to bend for her, as she bent at times for him. And he betrayed our trust.

I am deeply disappointed in both the EF and his family. They seemed so nice. I'm furiously angry to find they place more importance on financial worth than on commitment, love, and hard work.

Right now, she says she'd rather be single for the rest of her life than to get hurt like this again. I'm hoping there's someone not far off who won't betray her - who shares her ideals and her sense of commitment, and who wants what she wants and is willing to bend to meet her. And that when she encounters that person, she'll be able to believe him.

Because we need to have faith that there is love, and it can conquer all, if you let it.

Otherwise, the disappointment of living would eat us alive.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed. Ouch. Lots of hurt that is well-expressed.

    Best wishes for the healing of these wounds.

    It's hard to think good thoughts for the EF at this point (and may never be possible), but you hit on a key point--that it's better to have this out of the way before there is community property and the rest.

    When/if your daughter finds someone she really can trust, she'll be all the happier.