But the story of the bundle of letters didn't end there - I was left feeling rejected - but was I?
The message my broken heart heard at the time was that Aaron and even his father had rejected me. My parents were also rejecting me. By not giving me any answer and by leaving me out, my parents were telling me I wasn't worth it. I was the middle unworthy child.
But the mystery of it all kept me intrigued. What did Dad mean when he wondered out loud if he had made a mistake? Why did he want to know how I felt about Aaron?
Then there was my mother finding out about the letters. How had she found out about the letters? Had my parents discussed Aaron and his father's visit? Why? Had the visit really been about me perhaps? Had they talked about me? Why was Aaron's father involved?
There were other subsequent comments without explanation. Later - much later - my father wondering if I should have been a farmer's wife? Then there were those odd looks whenever the farm was mentioned. I also learned that, Aaron and his father's hadn't visited their church or with other friends when they had come to BC, they had just come to talk to my father - so what was that conversation really about?
Still puzzled, I eventually processed the entire event with a friend - someone who was also familiar with the culture of the Dutch farmers who had invaded our Greendale community during those years. Her conclusion sent me spinning. "Do you think that Aaron and his father drove all the way from the Maritimes to BC to ask your father for your hand in marriage? I know that you think you were too young for something like that - but during that time, I know of some Dutch girls getting married at the young age of fifteen - or sixteen in prearranged marriages?"
I was startled. I had never thought of it.
She concluded. "it sounds like Aaron had chosen you and persuaded his father that you were the one...."
The penny fell. It was the only explanation that finally made sense to me.
Now looking at the bundle of letters - so many years later with this new insight - it became a "what if" moment. What if - instead of a flat no - my father had consulted me and then after realizing the depth of Aaron's commitment to me and his potential to be an exceptionally caring husband, I had been groomed for marriage. The idea of moving to the Maritimes would not have been an issue for me. Middle children are free to roam the earth, I've learned.
What if I had married Aaron rather than Cliff. In hindsight, stepping into the fantasy world, life with Aaron looks stable. With him as a husband, I would have focused on a large brood of children that would have all inherited Aaron's wisdoms, stability, compassion and McDreamy eyes. Our love would have multiplied.
In the real life, my choice to marry Cliff, I had chosen a lifestyle that was anything but stable. It was filled with trauma and creative chaos. Candace, a child, who had resembled Cliff in so man ways, had been murdered. The trauma had forced me to write dreary books on forgiveness and survival. None of it had been easy. I could spin our life into a very dark place.
Do I need to forgive my father for stealing my chances for a stable life?
I wonder about the ability of others to decide for us the roads we take in life. My father might have chosen my future mate, but there was someone else who decided to abduct Candace who had also taken our lives into his hands and changed the direction of our lives permanently as well.
What do we do with that? The ability of others to choose for us - our destiny.
Too often in life, something happens and we blame other people for it. We are left feeling unhappy, unsatisfied or unfulfilled. The "what if" question can lead to blame.
I am still holding the bundle of letters. No matter who I would have married, something would have gone wrong. That is the nature of life. Stuff happens. In the end, even though some choices are thrust on us by other, we all still have choices, and we can make the choice to accept people or situations or to not accept them. We can choose to blame, remain angry and become bitter or we can make choices that can turn a disaster into an advantage - turn it into something good..
I realize again, I have no regrets about marrying Cliff. , I married the right man. Life with Cliff was a wild exciting ride and in the end both of us agreed that it had been immensely fulfilling. We had a good life together!
Now as I look down at the bundle of letters - they no long hold rejection but symbolize great love. If my friend is right, someone loved me enough to travel across the country for me, My father, in his love, chose to protect me and continue to financially support me for another six years. He wanted to keep me close. This opened the doors for Cliff, another great love that endured the greatest test - the murder of our daughter and many other challenges. Cliff's love healed me - completed me.
In amazement I realize I have changed my view of the letters, I can now release them and, let them go. I am filled with awe and gratitude. I have anew appreciation for life's continuing mysteries.
Downsizing and slowly going through the boxes - I am being freed of the past.
Perhaps downsizing isn't the worst - its a bit like therapy.
I pick up another box.
"There's no glory in climbing a mountain if all you want to do is to get to the top. It's experiencing the climb itself - in all its moments of revelation, heartbreak, and fatigue - that has to be the goal."- Karyn Kusama