12/19/2011 2:51:38 PM
Mia's Letter-20 Years Later
SPOILER ALERT: The following is full of spoilers and is only meant for those who have already read Mia Like Crazy. If you read this page without having read the story first, I will personally come to your house and thump you on the head. --Nina
December 12, 2008
I've wanted to write you a letter for a while to tell you about my life now.
But first I want you to know why I waited so long to write this down. It's not because I haven't forgiven you all these years. In fact, Drew and I spent a lot of time with Dr. Schultz before our daughter was born and we decided we both needed to forgive our mothers for leaving us unprotected in the world.
That's why we named our daughter Rosalinda, after our two mothers. For us, this was a symbol of forgiveness and of making a happy future from our past sorrows.
And I want you to know, Mami, I do remember the good times, now. I do know that you loved me and that in your moments of clarity you tried, and you were proud of me. And I know that the problems you were unable to overcome had nothing to do with your feelings for me.
Once I stopped blocking out my emotions, I remembered all kinds of things. Do you remember the Spanish lullaby--"Duermate Mi Hija"? It was the one you used to sing to me when I was little, back when you were still singing. I sang it to both my children and it reminded me of our happy times.
So why did it take me so many years to write this letter? Because I didn't want to face the feelings of sadness and regret.
When Drew hired someone in the city to find you, I guess he didn't really expect to learn you had died. He waited until the kids were at Meri's, then he sat me down on the couch. He was so choked up, he could barely get the words out. At that moment, I thought I felt worse for him than for me, since he was probably reliving his own mother's death, and I was already half-expecting you to be gone.
But expecting something like that really doesn't make it any less monumental or painful. You died and we never fixed anything between us. I never got to sit and tell you about my husband and my children, my best friend who is also my sister-in-law, my niece and nephew who have grown up to be wonderful people...
I never got to hear you tell me you were sorry, and I never got to tell you I forgave you.
So, I guess this is the closest we'll ever get to that conversation.
Where do I start with Drew and me? Well, you can't take two people who are as screwed up as we were and get a perfect story-book ending. We've had our struggles. I always thought I'd want to marry the perfectly well-adjusted man who'd come from the perfect family, but I don't think that man could have understood me the way Drew does.
And as odd as he is, I can't imagine how the kids could have had a better father. Since he had no interest in business whatsoever, Drew made the kids his full-time occupation. When they were little, he refused to leave them alone with anyone besides me and Meri. Yeah, he's great with kids, but hasn't fully gotten past his trust issues with adults.
Of course, this caused a problem when Rose got to be a big girl and started getting invited to sleepovers. Drew told her "absolutely not." She went along the first few times because she worshipped her daddy, but she's got my strong will and she finally put her foot down. After we dropped her off that first night, Drew paced around the whole evening. Around midnight, he took off to where Rose was staying, only two blocks away. He claimed there was a family emergency and brought her home.
I didn't know a seven-year-old could be so livid. She told her dad he was paranoid and he was just going to have to get over it. Drew took it kind of hard because the two of them had lived in a state of mutual admiration since she was born.
Luckily, I had set up a studio for Drew in the house we bought behind Meri's, and he'd taken up painting. He often used it as an outlet when he got stressed. So, we worked out an agreement that when the kids were away and he got worried, he would go into his studio and paint.
During those times, he'd paint the most dismal pieces--dark, brooding, stormy images, often done in black and white and gray. Then the next day, when the kids were home and all was right with the world, he'd paint an almost identical piece, but in vivid color, all sunshine and light.
When I complained that we were accumulating too many of these, Meri showed them to a friend who owned a gallery in the city, and the "Darkness and Light" sets became a hot ticket item. Drew refused to go to his own opening at the gallery, but that only drove the prices up because now he was a reclusive, tortured genius.
Our son Jacob refers to the people who buy Drew's paintings as "artsy fartsy weirdoes," which Drew thinks is hilarious. Jake is very much his own person. His dad is thrilled that he doesn't seem to be anything like him, but I think he's inherited his dad's math brain and sports abilities. He's 16 now and is good at all kinds of things, but seems to be enamored with computer programming, lately. Drew coached Jacob's baseball teams for years. He loved working with the kids, but barely tolerated their parents. They put up with Drew because the kids loved him, and he managed to bring out the best in them on the field.
When Jake wanted to take up skateboarding, Drew went out and got them both skateboards and learned right along with him. When the day came that Jake informed his dad he'd rather just skateboard with his friends, Drew painted all night.
Meanwhile, Rose is 19 and attending Columbia University. You should have seen the collection of paintings Drew did the week she left. Pretty horrifying. But she takes pity on us and comes home nearly every weekend.
And now poor Drew faces a new challenge. Last weekend, Rose brought home a serious boyfriend for the first time. I know the idea of losing his little girl to another man is killing Drew, but he won't admit that. He's zeroed in on the fact that the boy is an artist. Drew's worst case scenario is that his daughter will fall for a guy like her dad. I've tried convincing him that wouldn't be such a bad thing, but he just keeps saying, "An artist? Really?"
Then, I point to the weird Picasso-like painting over the fireplace and remind Drew he's told his daughter since she was two that it was a portrait of her--which it is, except Drew painted her nose on top of her head like a party hat, among other oddities. Did he really think she'd come home with an average Joe?
Anyway, the boy turned out to have a good head on his shoulders. He's majoring in forensic science, minoring in graphic art.
Oh, I just realized I wrote so much about the family, I haven't told you what I'm doing. Well, since neither Drew nor Meridith have any love for business, I took over responsibility for all the financial interest of the family. I spend many of my days in meetings with lawyers, financial planners, sitting in board meetings...and I love it! Drew says that makes me crazier than he is.
But the best part is that after Meri got me involved in some of her causes, I met some nice people who wanted to start a non-profit aimed at girls in the housing projects--helping to keep them in school, supplying scholarships, and keeping them from becoming teenage mothers.
Drew and Meri and I are the major donors, and I go into the city periodically to raise money and spend time there with the girls. It's still painful sometimes when I drive by the building I grew up in, but when I leave, knowing I've done something to improve these girls' lives, it's all okay.
I never lie anymore about where I come from--not to the girls, not to board members, not since the night Drew confronted me about it. I don't need to anymore.
And what about me and Drew? Strange as it sounds, I'm kind of glad I didn't have friends and family around to warn me away from him. I would have felt I had to do the rational thing and walk away the minute I knew his story. But I can't imagine how I could have made a better match.
I understood his need to let the kids be wild and run amuck, squealing around the house, finger-paint on their hands and faces. I understood why, after they were tucked in, he needed to pick up every toy and wipe up every drop of paint before he went to bed. Order is still a comfort to him. And I understood why I had to be the "bad cop" and take care of nearly all the discipline when the kids were little. Drew didn't have the heart to even raise his voice at them, after everything he'd been through.
And Drew understood that I still needed to feel like I was improving things--myself, our finances, the charities. He would have loved for me to stay with him twenty-four hours a day, and it wasn't like we needed the money, but he understood.
I always remember one particular time when I was pregnant with Rose. I was so emotional, between my doubts about my parenting skills and the hormones. Drew was doodling on his sketch pad while I was watching an episode of Leave It to Beaver. Ward Cleaver opened the front door and announced he was home and I burst into tears.
Drew didn't need to ask why. He knew I'd had a father who left and never came home. He knew what it was like to have a parent you loved who didn't come back. He just moved to the couch and put his arms around me. And when I was all cried out, he made me hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows like he did that first night I stayed in his apartment.
There was a time in my liife when I was so solitary, so lonely, even in a law office full of people. The truth is, I quit my job that day because I couldn't take another moment surrounded by people, yet feeling utterly alone.
But since the day Mr. Mason rejected me and Drew stood up for me then opened his heart completely to me, I haven't been lonely anymore. And because of Drew, I've spend the past twenty years surrounded by people who love me. I'm not sure anyone can ask for more than that.
I hope wherever you are, Mami, you've found the kind of peace and contentment you never found in this life. Who knows? Maybe you're watching over me now and you can experience some of those feelings through me.
That's what I like to believe, anyway.
With all my love,
Your daughter Mia