"Empire of Angels" by Thomas Bergerson
The picture above, hung on our bathroom door. It had a piece of plastic
film over it. Every day one of us would wipe off the previous days messages,
and with a white-board marker, start a new conversation...
The lines in there now were one of our daily jokes. The first words out of my mouth every morning were:
"I Love You"
And I said that several times a day.
However, occasionally, I would ask her, in an absent-minded fashion:
"Have I told you today, that I love you?" To which she would always reply: "No. You Have Not".
To which I would respond, with reassuring words, and a passionate kiss: "Dont worry. I will".
Donna always replied: "I hope so", and we would laugh. She loved it.
I never knew I was Donna Darkwolf’s “Hero”. I always thought she was MY Hero.
File date: 05 07 2017 02:24 AM ( Donna was born 24 February. 02/24. Perfect coincidence).
This is the Cover of her letter. The significance: She had told me while she was making her arrangements that she would never want to out live me because movies that portrayed funerals for soldiers made her sad and she would never want to bury be.
For obvious reasons - this is a REDACTED VERSION of her final missive.
I have not looked forward to the time when I would have to write to u – one last time. I have in my mind written so much and reasoned so much more away. I have said it all. Haven’t I? How could I ever say it differently? I cannot.
I do not know if I am a coward or brave – to die before you. However those are useless judgemental terms. What I do know with all my soul is that your spirit would never rest if you did not see me dead and buried by you. I know that. We both know I would go indefinitely to Valkenberg if you did not bury me first. And you would do everything in your power to stop that – and that has meant the bravest thing anyone can imagine – you have to let me go. Gently. Peacefully, in a home you have prepared and provided for me. There can surely be no greater gift of love than this?
I do not know how you will die my Franco. And if I stop to think of the many terrible ways for you to die, I will be admitted to Valkenberg now. Then we will have the above scenario. In this regard, I feel the biggest failure in my life --- to not want to / be able to be with you when your time comes. Not to be able to hold your hand, and wipe your brow.
All I can ‘hope / wish’ for is that when your time comes, you must go into that Undiscovered Country by yourself – whilst you can. That means with all your mental and physical faculties, as well as any money necessary. You must die while you are well. You must march into that Undiscovered Country proudly. It is not brave for me to die – like this. There is no bravery to march into the Undiscovered Country here, this way. What is brave however s to relinquish any control I think I might have over your future (or Mavis and her family). And I know this because just before my dad died he sad to me: ‘my girl, daddy can’t protect you anymore, you must let me go’, and I draw courage from my dad’s words. That is brave. To let go.
You are a special person Franco. People can see this. Sensitive people. There may come a time you might meet someone special again. Maybe one day someone can take care of you the way you have taken care of me. However, I doubt you will allow that, or even the vaguest possibility. You are to stubborn for that. It pains me to think of you alone in your tower in the sky. Or just a friend. Someone to talk shit with and share a whiskey.
It is hard for me to understand where along the line I became so uncaring to the people that matter the most in my life. I do not know. But you Franco, you were born to care and nurture. That is what makes you happy, at peace with yourself and the universe. The cosmos the planet.
Many things have been said about our relationship. Most of it was said by me. How do you measure love? A great love story? I do not know. Love can never be adequately described. Love gets lost in the translation.
Sometimes I have wondered if the purpose of your journey was my journey. You will understand this when I say: “I was born to die”. My entire life was the stage set for this. Yours was born to live. You are a Soldier.
My Franco it is important that you tell your family that I suicided. Please. You have nothing to be ashamed of. In this regard, you have my absolute permission to say ‘she succumbed to her mental illness’.
The stigma of guilt felt by survivors is so bad that they feel ashamed and blame themselves for not doing more, saying more, being better than more. U will have experienced this as a survivor in the army. Even Angela is so sad. She is wise, like Dale. And they are mature in their spirits. Despite that she was present throughout my first suicide attempt, she is sad that I have chosen to die – my way and on my own terms. That, I cannot understand. I do not want to die like her dad, or Daniela’s dad, or Louise’s husband and so forth.
I want to die whilst I am well enough to die well. Since she has been part of my process for 27 years, she has finally admitted that she feels she has ‘failed me’. She has not.
YOU HAVE NOT FAILED ME MY FRANCO. YOU NEVER HAVE. AND I KNOW YOU WILL NOT FAIL ME NOW.
I KNOW THIS. BECAUSE YOU WOULD NOT WISH TO FAIL YOURSELF. I HAVE SEEN YOU IN ACTION.
I KNOW WHAT I AM LOOKING AT WHEN I LOOK AT YOU.
I have kept so many of your smss… all they do is radiate love. Pure pure love. But this one was so funny.
U r incapable of abuse and this was as good as it got:
‘I can barely remember you. The good things. But I sure do recall all your shittiness. The shitness monster’.
I laugh at that so much each time I read it.
Here is another one:
’We aint drivin anywhere together. Tamorra or any other time in yir short hillbilly fyutcha. Mah prime purpose is ta see ya deyad and buried. An I don’t much care in which order they comes in’.
So much encouragement from you:
'You once told me you are a Warrior. I admired u for that. U still are and I still do’
'We both knew the price of this Mission. And the only price is Never to Surrender’
'Consider this. I am trying to keep you to my heart so I can fetch you in the morning. If I screw up? You will bury me. It is always on me’
'I have always loved u. I always will. With abiding respect… Flt. Lt. Moreno Franco ’
'Goodnight – My Wolf – Hunt Well’
'Only our best planning and timing will lift u beyond where the metal meets the meat, however, U have got to achieve this goal at any cost. Move forward ’
’ Fetch you anytime ’
'Semper Fidelis ’
'Everywhere for 1000 yards. And I will always be here with you ’
'Fetch you anytime ’
'I will Always fetch u. depend on it ’
'I believe in you ’
'Love is as love does. Be done by as you did, my precious Mermaid ’
'Always fetch you in the morning. Soldier ’
'Buenas noches Corazon mi. eo tu queiro. Good night my heart. I love you. Como Viento. With the wind. ’
'Breath of Angels, everywhere. For one thousand yards ’
'You are My Light mia Donna ’
I have prepared a ‘package', for you for the next few months ahead. Some times I will mention ‘God’. We are both spiritual people Franco. We speak abt it differently. So when I say “God” put your own thing in there. I do not know what else to call this ‘thing’. So ‘God will do.
[Note: She left me three Gifts: With dates of when they should be opened. Accompanied by cards. With messages. Only Donna Mia:
Anniversary of when we found each other - 1 November > Bronze Mermaid.
Christmas 25 December > A Snail (the last living creature she ever saw on 7 July 2017. From her credit card statement - I can see she purchased the Snail 25 June 2017).
My Birthday 1 January > A Purple Dragon coiled around a sword... I was born 1952 in the Year of The Dragon. And she just LOVES Purple]
Franco as I said, I never thought I would meet anyone as brave as my parents – not just bec of their end of life choices but bec of stuff they both went thru that so few people know of. But u r as brave, if not more. The bravest heart and strong-minded courageousness. There are people who have silently witnessed this Franco – Dale, Daniela, Angela. The mature and wise stalwarts. And of course Vinny.
If I had to dedicate a song to u it would be ‘wind beneath my wings’ And it wasn't written by bette midler. The right version.....
when you fetch me in the morning and if you see a furrowed face rather than a peaceful one, do not think I didn’t die peacefully. I did.
End of Line