These notes are real emails that were exchanged between one of Dale's Sempai (senior students) and myself, last winter. When I came across them this afternoon, they made me a little weepy, but then I always get like that when I remember the strong, powerful version of who Dale really was.
I was thinking about you today and was able to find you through a google search. How are you? What's new? I hope that things are going well. The karate boys still ask about you! What town are you in now?
What a pleasant surprise to hear from you!
All is well with me, thank you for asking. I am officially "old", as I became a grandfather last year. I now have another special girl in my life. Her name is Brooklyn and already she knows how to melt her Grandpa's heart.
Tim is now just north of Calgary, and I am a little south. We often talk fondly of Dale and how much we miss his presence with us. The memories are invaluable.
Kathy, we often wonder how you are coping?
Jamie must be grown up! Keep in touch :)
A grandpa - wow! Congratulations! I'm really feeling old this year because I just turned 43, which is now eight years older than Dale. So hard to believe he's been gone for so long. I have his black belt and his certificates hanging in my office, and not a day goes by that I don't miss him. He was such a special person, even in light of all his problems. Looking back, I can hardly believe that we survived such devastation.
The last few years have been very kind to us.
You probably remember that Dale's life insurance was declined. There's a question in the application where he was less than truthful about his drinking habits and the investigators found it in his medical records. After that, Jamie and I moved into an apartment in Clearview and lived there for two years (I consider those years my pergatory) and continued managing the store. Jamie quit school and went to work FT until she was hospitalized for depression in 2004.
Actually, 2004 was a defining year for us.
My dad had had plans to start a business with Dale when his emu farm sold, but by then Dale had passed away so he split some of the money between us kids and our mom. I got the cheque at the end of August and it was enough for a down payment on a house, which I closed on just prior to my 40th birthday.
2004 was also when I met Bill. He moved in in November, and in January we got custody of his little girl, Emily.
There is no drinking in our house, and no fighting. We constantly stress that our house is about protecting one another and we don't allow people to stay with us or disrupt the peace we've worked so hard to build.
It's like we're new people now.
We haven't seen Dale's family since the funeral, but we know his grandfather passed away in 2003 and his dad died in 2004, as well as his Aunty Peggy. To the best of my knowledge, only his mom and his brother remain.
One of the reasons I wanted to find you was to apologize.
The last five years of Dale's life was so hard. It's not that it was easy in the beginning, either. We were young and stupid and just didn't know how to deal with our problems. In the end, I had become so resentful that I couldn't stand myself and I couldn't stand what he'd become. I couldn't get through the day without constantly complaining and whining and I hated that I did it but couldn't stop.
During the course of the last year of his life, both Dale and I had the opportunity to to apologize for those behaviours we struggled with in the past. We talked almost every night, deep into the night, sometimes only passing out at 4am from exhaustion. He forgave me and I forgave him, because I knew it was going to be up to me to bring him a good death. I also promised him that I would apologize to the people around us that had inadvertantly gotten sucked into our drama.
I'd like to apologize for the weekend we all went to Winnipeg for the Nationals. I was mad at Dale that weekend, because I had just discovered how much of our income was being used to support his alcoholism. and we'd been fighting hard leading up to that trip. I am always ashamed when I recall my behaviour in Sensei's dojo, especially since you got dragged into it. Please accept my apologies for those times.
First, thank you for filling me in on what's been happening in your life. I frequently wondered how you were doing, knowing full well some of the challenges you'd face. I could only hope that you were managing to the best of your ability. The two years of pergatory (as you so eloquently put it) could not have been easy.
Second, you have absolutely nothing to apologize for. Thank you though. As you know, I loved Dale as if he were my brother. When you're that close to a person, you tend to look past their imperfections to see the beauty inside. I know it couldn't have been easy for you, Kathy, wondering how to deal with his addiction and all that went along with it. It's damn hard dealing with addictions.
Dale had faced a lot of challenges in his short life, but he was a good man and I am proud to call him my friend.
I want to congratulate you on finding love again. It's so great to hear that you're in such a happy relationship with Bill. I'm sure that Dale would have wanted you to find someone to begin anew.
It was so great to hear from you! Thank you for the congrats and please keep in touch.