Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

Lament for a Butterfly


If you ask my daughter to show you, she will extend her arm and reveal a small, delicate butterfly tattooed just above her wrist.  She loves Butterflies. I brought her a beautiful silk painting of one back from the Caribbean, and it rests its wings on her walls.

She wrote a song called Butterfly for her now defunct band. The words are now echoing in my mind.

“Butterflies have such a short life, I wish I was a Butterfly”

I saw my daughter before Christmas. As she came down the escalator towards me, I felt so happy to see her again. She looked well, and healthy, and as we talked she seemed to have found her equilibrium again. I had been very worried about her, she had cut loose from everything she’d known, her band, her music studies, her boyfriend of two years. She’d seemed lost.

Struggling to finish those last 8 months of university, the torpor was threatening to drag her under before the finish line. Then, Christmas, that wolf in sheep’s clothing, that dispenses pain and pleasure in equal measure, amplifying both with chilling equanimity arrived like an uninvited guest, bringing hurtful accusations from her hurting ex-boyfriend. He had his own demons to deal with, but I dont think he realised the pain he was causing her.

She confided to me that her Christmas day had been awful, and that she expected to spend New Year alone, and I told her she should not do that.  Miki and I received a message around 4.30 in the morning of New Years Day from her mother, it was cryptic and scary. It told me not to speak to my daughter before her Mother had spoken to the Doctor.

It transpired that my precious daughter had been harming herself. As I write this, words seem empty, useless, in conveying the depth of horror, sadness, anguish, incomprehension, and yes, revulsion at this revelation.  I have guilt. I defy any parent that has left a marriage involving children not to be marinated in deep, unresolvable guilt.  But my daughter was 16 when I left, and she knew it was better that we split. I don´t believe it was my fault she went down this path. But the simple undeniable fact stands in front of me, accusing, like a monolith while the arctic winds of indecision cut me to the bone. What can I do?

It is one of nature’s cruel tricks that the raising of children is like plate spinning…you get one spinning great, you leave it and move on to the other one, getting that one spinning beautifully, then, as you glance across, the one you first attended to is spinning wildly out of control.  If I was a psychologist, and I’m not, I would venture that my son has inherited a down to earth approach that will protect him in life. I thought my daughter had too. She has my stubbornness, but she is frail, thinks the world is against her, and has inherited her Mother’s hysteria. I try not to fall into the trap of measuring her life against mine (as my father did with me) but it´s difficult. She is now 22. I left home at 17, and was travelling the world as a professional musician by the age of 20. My son has a much more thoughful head on his shoulders, and is only 15. It could be argued that he had a far more traumatic time when I left than my daughter did. But what forces shape our destiny? I simply cannot comprehend what would drive a beautiful young woman with her whole life ahead of her to do this to herself.  Whatever words of comfort come my way, I feel, profoundly, that I have failed her, and I wanted so much for her to have the world.

I will post a picture of her to accompany this post when I am able..we are still using the cybercafe so its a bit problematic.

Kev Moore

January 6, 2008 Posted by | culture, family, health, life, love, Parents and Children, personal, women, writing | , , , , , | 13 Comments