Sometimes in life, something happens, and it ends up defining us for the rest of our years. Something that perhaps was merely happenstance. 

Or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This is the case for Betsy. She experienced something in college that she simply cannot shake. And it wasn’t something that happened directly to her. But to her best friend.

Thus, the guilt began. It moved with her from place to place. It occupied a place in her mind that niggled at her at every opportunity.

She marries her college boyfriend. Has a child. 

But always, in the back of her mind, is the “tragic event.” 

She uses drugs and alcohol to dull and obscure what she cannot come to terms with.

She sees trouble behind every face. She fears danger around every corner. 

Betsy is not just a product of having lived through something that happened to her best friend, something she feels some guilt for. But it has “become” who she is.

This novel is about being young. Making mistakes. Survivor’s guilt.

It is about losing someone very dear to you in a violent and horrific way. 

It is only when she faces it, at a college reunion 20 years later, that the real facts unfold. And she then realizes that what she felt guilt for all those years was not in fact the real story at all.

But it shaped who she now is nonetheless.

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  1. Brenda, an interesting post. I'm so sorry you are estranged from your daughter, and your mother before that. Reminds me of my husband's estrangement from his son. It's a long story, but it saddens me that he (the son) is not in our lives, nor are his two sons. We've never even met them. I've never "met" the son either, only seen him from far away. Much healing could come if the son would respond, but you can't make them. All you can do is wait.
    I know the estrangement from your daughter is hurtful for you. I've never had the privilege of being a mother, but I can imagine the pain of estrangement.

  2. When I was away at college I used to stare up at the moon on those rare homesick winter nights, wondering if my friends back home were looking up at it, too…

  3. Brenda, I have not spoken to one of my sisters in five years, by mutual agreement though for different reasons. My situation is different in that my life is better, calmer, without her in it, but a part of me wishes that the situation were different. One thing I do believe is that the 6 week old you had nothing to do with your mother's choices. Similarly, an adult child's choices are his or her own. You've looked at your part in the situation and are focusing on healing yourself. That's all you can do, and I'm very glad you're doing it. I enjoy your blog so much because of what you share and the "you" who shines from these pages. Now may be the time to just, "Let it be."

  4. So sad, Brenda. You have spent so much of your life wondering and will, most likely, never know the answers to those unasked questions. I am sorry for your estrangement with your daughter. I, too, have often looked at the moon and wondered if others ever thought of me as I thought of them. xo Diana

  5. I LOVE your full moon shot because it has been so dreary and cloud clovered here that seeing the moon and starss is rare anymore.

    Brenda you don't have the best family story that is for sure. It's heartbreaking what you have all gone through. You are doing your best…to heal, to reach out, to understand…to forgive. I have witnessed your journey over the years and it is inspiring.

  6. Brenda, I forgot to mention how much I love your shot of the moon from last night. When I am in Florida, I so enjoy the full moon. I can see it rise rom a tiny high window in my park model trailer. Tried to photograph it before but didn't do a very good job. Thanks for the beautiful picture.

  7. Thank you Brenda for speaking about your life in such an honest way. I admire your ability to write and express yourself with words. That is not a gift of mind. I have trouble expressing myself in words. I am so sorry to hear about your abandonment by your mother. You stated she had six children. Were you the last one to be born in your family. I just read your posts where you had sisters. I know I have stated this to you before but have you ever considered writing a book about your life? Maybe it will be a best seller and your money worries would be over! Seriously, maybe it would help with healing by putting it down on paper. Thank you for sharing with us every day – you lift up people more than you think. Kiss those puppies for me. Thanks for the review of books – I will put them on my list.

  8. It's heartbreaking about your parents' abandonment, and about your elder daughter turning away. That's why it's so wonderful that you still have your younger daughter in your life, along with her son and husband. I know that they mean a lot to you, and you get to create good memories with them. The ones who aren't in our lives create the empty dark sky, and the ones who are with us are like the soft, warm glow of the moon that keeps us from being swallowed up by the darkness.

  9. I think it's still estrangement even if you never knew her. Similar to this:

    "It is only when she faces it, at a college reunion 20 years later, that the real facts unfold. And she then realizes that what she felt guilt for all those years was not in fact the real story at all.

    But it shaped who she now is nonetheless."

    It has shaped you.

    My Mom and I are distant, for reasons that seem nebulous and strange to me. It is getting better though. She even came to visit at Christmas. I don't know why things are the way they are. I do not understand her. Our family has had a lot of estrangement. I do not know why. There's a strange kind of anger there. I am at a loss to explain it, but it tears apart everything it can.

    I pray that it won't be that way in my own family and also for healing with my Mom and others. I can see healing happening, sometimes more clearly than other times, but I believe it is happening even when I can't see it. Truly, it's a God thing. It is certainly not anything I can make happen.

    I'm praying the same in your family, healing even when you can't see it. T

  10. I am glad you feel like you can share your estrangement with your older daughter on your blog. It is part of your journey and while a sad one, you always help so many with your stories and experiences. Hang in there!

  11. Your book review makes me want to find the book. Sounds like an interesting read. I know the feelings of estrangement very well. My mother has chosen to pull away from our small brood and we were already a very small family unit. I am an only child and my daughter is an only child and when my mother pulled away, my granddaughter was an only child. My daughter has since blessed us with a little boy. But my mother has never laid eyes on him and he is magical. My father passed on years ago, so as you can see, it was just us and in a unit that small, when one is not there, they are missed. I continually reach out to her because as an only child, I feel responsible to make sure she is alright because like your mother, she is in her 80's. I finally reached out this week and she consented to see me. So this Saturday, I will make the 3-hour trip to check on her. I have no idea what to expect but I'm going. I pray you and your daughter will reconnect soon. Estrangement is painful.

    1. Oftentimes we just don't know what is in someone's head. What they are going through or what they mean to convey by their absence in our lives. It is tragic. And yet there's not much we can do about it. I hope it goes well!

  12. My mother passed away when I was 12.
    Many years ago someone recommended the book,"MOTHERLESS DAUGHTERS" to me.
    I found it very insightful as I was having trouble binding with my 2 kids (1 boy,1 girl) as I felt if I stayed "distant" they wouldn't experience the heartache of losing me.
    It covered estrangement from all angles,divorce,death

    Sadly,I don't remember the authors name.

  13. Sounds like a very good read. Sorry to hear your maintenance man can't work on the vanity for a while. Would you possibly be able to hire someone from Craig's list to do it instead?

    My heart goes out to you about your estranged daughter. Life is complicated isn't it?

  14. Brenda, another lovely post. I complain about my daughters living in my house at this age, but at the same time I'm grateful for the time I have with them and the relationship we share. I'm so sorry your daughter hasn't found it in her heart to forgive you for whatever 'wrongs' she believes were inflicted upon her in the past. xo

  15. The book sounds like a good read!

    Regarding your relationships (of course I am no expert) It's natural that you would wonder about her, but is there a mother or father figure who loved and raised you? If I were in your shoes it would be that person who I considered my mother. Or Parent figure. Perhaps your biological mother gave you a gift by letting someone else do the raising because she knew she was not capable of the important task. So maybe if you can't have a relationship with her specifically, be thankful for the gift of the one who stepped in. As for your estrangement from your daughter, whatever the reasons, as long as you have made it known your door is always open, you are open to communication and maybe hearing things that might be difficult to acknowledge, that's the best you can do. I bet you've already done it. I hope you and your daughter find your way back to each other despite your differences. You are a good and caring person, it's clear in your writing.

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