Monday, April 03, 2006

Not Dark Yet

It is 3:00am Chicago time. About two hours ago my flight arrived from Charleston, seven hours late, including an unscheduled 2 hour lay over in South Bend, Indiana, all because of a thunderstorm. Needless to say mine and 100's of other connections were missed and 1000's of travelers have been grabbing every hotel room in sight. Because every other plane coming into O'Hare was similarly delayed tonight, there is not a hotel romm wihtin 15 miles. The rooms that are available are cab ride away. Because of the demand, the wait for a cab at O'Hare is 3 hours.

So I am camped out on a hard plastic chair with about 40 other lost souls tonight. My new flight out is in 14 hours, allowing me plenty of contemplating how it is that I have come to this state of utter dispair. Oh yes, the Xanax, four and counting. There is more.

This week I ended, legally ended, a 25 year marriage. I spent a week at the beach with my youngest daughter, 15, trying to explain it all. My oldest daughter is in a "tough love" boarding school where we are not allowed to talk or see her. Not for months, and for some girls, years. This was my first trip back after leaving home that I did not see my Sarah, my oldest, my first born child. I am now gone again, for however long it will be, two daughters, no father.....and an entire night on a hard plastic chair to think about it.

I wish that this horrid moment in my life was changed ever so slightly. That the reason all of this transpired was here so I could look into her eyes and know why mountains sometime move. My tragic hours would turn magical and we would somehow make a wonderful lifelong memory of it all. But that is not how it is. It is just me and these words.

How do dreams die? Can they be brought back to life? Or do we just wear ourselves and our dreams out just getting through each and every day? I am so very tired of the struggle, the lost footprints in the sand, once mine, then shared, now no ones. That goes for all of the above young beautiful women who are such a big part of me.

My Sarah wrote a "contemplation" at dinner that her one contact with me, her personal counselor, read to me last week over the phone. It went something like this:

"Dad, why did you lie to me. Why did you always promise so much and deliver so little? You let me down Dad, you said you would give me a chance to live with you before sending to this awful place. I believed you, but like so much else you promised, in the end, you let me down. I still love you Dad, but you weren't there for me."

Now imagine, my friends, you are sitting in this bleak corner of O'Hare in the middle of the night, alone with your thoughts. No one's hand in your hand and no warm body and soul to share this cold hanging space. You are going away again, to be even farther away from those two little souls that you once cradled to sleep every night.

Fade to music:

Shadows are falling and I've been here all day
It's too hot to sleep time is running away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I've still got the scars that the sun didn't heal
There's not even room enough to be anywhere
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

Well my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there's been some kind of pain
She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writing what was in her mind
I just don't see why I should even care
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

Well, I've been to London and I've been to gay Paree
I've followed the river and I got to the sea
I've been down on the bottom of a world full of lies
I ain't looking for nothing in anyone's eyes
Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there

I was born here and I'll die here against my will
I know it looks like I'm moving, but I'm standing still
Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don't even hear a murmur of a prayer
It's not dark yet, but it's getting there.



David M Gordon said...


Your pain and anguish are obvious, palpable; you do not wear lightly or often your heart on your sleeve.

You could choose to view this unscheduled layover as life conspiring against you, especially with everything else going on in your (and Ilene's!) life. You could also choose to view it as life granting you a quiet moment, a separate peace, to reflect quietly upon the decisions that have brought you to this space and time.

Choose the latter. Recognize that, despite her current travails, you have raised Sarah to have a discerning mind, to be independent -- which sadly includes the ephemeral renting of the fabric of the love that binds each of you, including Sarah to her mother.

This difficult moment will prove only temporary; not a "phase" to grow out of, but a growing older, wiser, being seasoned by the forces of life itself, even at her tender age. It is better it occurs now, with you, as you can offer your patient, always-there, and unconditional love.

For you are experienced. She is not. She (both your daughters) looks to you for guidance, in all your decisions -- good and bad, right and wrong. And your ability to stand tall -- firm in your decisions, firm in your resolve.

This moment is a character builder for all parties. Love will carry you through, but even love proves insufficient to the task. An old Chinese proverb: "Have patience. Everything is difficult before it becomes easy." That would include love between a father and his daughter(s), and even life itself.

Each of you will make it through to the other side. Of that, I am confident. So have faith. And be patient.

Anonymous said...

Allan, things always look the darkest before the sun comes up. I ended a marraige after 12 years...2 wonderful children. It'll get better my friend. Just do your best to lead courageously, reject passivity, and expect the greater good...God's goodness, to come about for you and your kids.

If you don't know or believe the truth and supernatural power of healing and reconciliation available through the Lord Jesus Christ, I invite you, as a follower of His, to take a hard look. As a former skeptic, I was blown away by what I found.

Being an attorney, you might really enjoy reading Lee Strobel's book, "The Case for Christ." Strobel, a Yale Law School graduate, was the former legal editor for the Chicago Tribune. This book is a great read that traces his journey from atheist to believer. I take great comfort knowing that when Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, the bible records his answer was, "Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, strength and MIND." In my case, I'm a follower of Christ because I can't reject Him( or the Bible) intellectually. Strobel's book does a wonderful job laying out that case as far as I'm concerned. You're in my prayers friend.

bigmatyboy said...

My God. What an incredibly moving letter. I’m just a guy, 43, single with no kids, who enjoys checking your thread from time to time for stock picks, yes, but also for your writing.

My older brother’s stepdaughter (19) also went to one of these tough love places, here in Texas, I believe. Coincidentally, her name is also Sarah. Our Sarah still blames her mother for everything, and yet she never accepts responsibility for her own actions. She continually makes bad choices. Her grandmother is a very wealthy loving woman who has offered to put her through college on numerous occasions. Sarah has not only refused her offer, but once violently attacked the poor woman, who is now in her mid-seventies.

Unfortunately, the school did little to help her attitude and she continued to make the wrong choices after she left. At one point, my brother and his wife let Sarah live with them. She had everything a young lady could ask for – a loving home with a swimming pool, her own room, privacy, and she was free to come and go as long as she came home at an acceptable time. That didn’t last too long. A late night tryst with a young man in her upstairs bedroom was the last straw. They were drunk, loud, and having sex – an obvious “in-your-face” sign of disrespect.

Sarah moved out and is now 2 months pregnant. She insists on raising the baby even though she is woefully unprepared for the rigors of raising a child. She’s a bit of a “party girl” who claims to value her friendships above all else, even though her friends come and go with the wind. These are flaky friendships at best, with lots of infighting, and infantile melodramas.

The father of the child is a different young man than the one I referred to before. He too is unprepared, but to his credit wants to try to help. Sarah, however, claims to be sick of the boy, and chooses to raise the child by herself…with her mother’s help of course.

Her parents hope that this is not just another of many passing fancies. She has jumped headlong into other undertakings only to quit them after discovering that they require a serious commitment, but this is a child, not a job, not a summer school class, and not a boyfriend. Needless to say, we all love her and support her nevertheless. She is blessed with beauty and a genuinely kind and loving heart.

I share this story with you in hopes that it will help you in some way – maybe to warn you, maybe to show you that you are not alone. As John Lennon said, I believe “love is the answer”. I do not know the cure. I just know that I’m not the only reader who cares about you, Allan.

Hopefully all this goodwill will transfer itself to your Sarah. Hopefully, she realize how special she is, how loved she is, and that life is a game to play to win; that the bad times only make the good times that much sweeter, and that everyone experiences pain; it’s what we do with it that is a true measure of our character and our happiness.

Willing you all the best...

Anonymous said...

I have a helluva lot of respect for you and your willlingness to share your pain with us. As a parent and as a pyschologist, I really feel for you. But life is not a straight line; it cycles just like the market. Right now, you're putting in a bottom, but you'll be a more sensitive and wiser man when you're ready to start your next leg up.

Anonymous said...

I hear your tiredness, the weariness of conversations where we miss each other; the love we are maybe unable to express; the confusion and guilt about how it all came about and of how to make it better. I hear too the loneliness and the pain of loss of so much potential beauty. It’s not too late.
If somehow you can communicate with Sarah the pain that you feel around your separation, heartfully, like you just did here, that might be a beginning of something new; no-one can not hear another’s pain even if their own pain is getting in the way. And to listen to her pain until she is really heard breaks the cycle of her having to act out in order to receive the attention that she desperately needs in whatever form. Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...


Please know that I stand with you in dumbstruck silent sympathy. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

OK, you know I am seldom silent :-)Transformation is one of my favorite words. All of humanity knows something of it. Nature counts on it. There are some things we cannot keep and there are some things we cannot lose. Seasons come and go. In spite of what's been lost or remains, or so the song says.

You have enough love to sustain you....with enough left over to offer even those who have hurt you the most. Love is a deep well and always our best investment. Invest a big lot of it in yourself :-) During the dark nights of our soul it is all we have. Everything else is stripped away.

Love has a way of surprising us with joy when we least expect it. Thanks for sharing your heart with us. Our hearts have such infinite capacity for both joy and pain.


Anonymous said...


God is with you, your children and your wife. Peace. the book "The Case for Christ." by Strobel is an excellent read at this moment.

just remember, all is not lost.


Anonymous said...

There is nothing I can add to these comments. I just also want you to know that you and your girls are not alone, and that folks here care for you. I ended a 20 year marriage a few years ago and I have two daughters in their early twenties. Time heals many wounds. I think God wants you to be happy, to be the best you can be for yourself and for others, and that life is too short to suffer in an unhappy situation. And patience and calm lead to much needed healing and understanding. Find happiness, however and wherever you can.


jona said...

Hi Allan,

I've only been reading your blog for about a week now, a neophyte investor trying to get smart, but I have already been impressed by both the depth of your knowledge and the generosity of your spirit.

Your pain right now is evident and my heart and prayers go out to you. The others are right, this too will pass.

As a journalist who's covered mostly wars and disasters for the past 15 years, I've been in some pretty ugly places and seen some pretty bleak things. And I've made terrible mistakes in my personal life as well. I have always found these words comforting during the darkest times, when hope was all but lost. I pray they can bring a little light to you right now, as well.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus...

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things."

Strobel's is a good book. You also might enjoy C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity.

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

The compassion shown to Allan is very endearing, however the pimping of religion makes me uncomfortable. Perhaps Allan is a Buddhist, or a Muslim, or a Jew. Or perhaps Allan is an atheist. Give him your love and compassion, but maybe, just maybe it would be wise to allow him have his own relationship with God.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing this up since for me it maintains the integrity of the site. At first i didn't want to detract from the intent of the posting so i ignored the first 'jesus' post but i too felt uncomfortable. Abuot the perceived plugging aspect yes but more importantly about the unhelpfullness - imo - of the comments. ( jona, i can explain if you are interested ).
I also know that there are others here who post very thoughtful posts are deeply christian and their prayers received equally with the those from the andromeda folks :).

Anonymous said...


Not unlike yourself, I'm also a huge fan of Bob Dylan and am inspired by the power of music when it's wedded with pertinent, poetic and thoughtful lyrics.

Through a music review, I recently stumbled across an artist who has been getting the new contender to Dylan's crown hype, only in this singer/songwriters case, he actually seems deserving of it.

Without getting into specifics, I've also had a rough time of it lately and the album, "Gone" proved to be incredibly inspiring.

Anyway, the artists name is Bill Madden.

You can listen to his music at

Remember... in time, this too shall pass.

jona said...

Hi Allan,

I'm sorry if I offended you in any way.

I certainly never meant to pimp or plug (or thump my bible, for that matter). People can only offer what they know, ideally something that has actually helped them. That was my only intent, but if that was unhelpful to you, then -- again -- I am sorry.

Hope you've arrived home safe and sound.

Anonymous said...


I went through a divorce with 3 children and a subsequent difficult custody battle and all the emotional trauma that is associated with such activities, so I can feel your pain. I went through a period of estrangement with my oldest daughter that was promoted through manipulations by my ex-wife, and all I have to say is that you should constantly evidence your interest and concern about your child by making efforts to contact her and spend time withy her and be involved in her life, and over time these efforts are likely to be recognized by your daughter.

All situations are different, but my daughter that had been estranged from me is now 24, and we have a good relationship. Take care, and know that your difficulties will resolve over time. Your anonymous friend.

Anonymous said...

Allan i have been there and done much of that a very long time ago--it never goes completely away but it will get better, trust me. I wish you the best--the following helped me and is really good advice---widetrack-----

"You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars
and you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your self.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."--------author unknows

Onedayrider said...

You don't need Jesus or Buddha; rather you need to move to AZ, buy the corvette, forget about taxes, hang out with your nephew and your kids will follow!

Simple answers to big problems. IT IS THAT SIMPLE!


A said...

You don't need Jesus or Buddha; rather you need to move to AZ, buy the corvette, forget about taxes, hang out with your nephew and your kids will follow!

Simple answers to big problems. IT IS THAT SIMPLE!


Ladies and Gentlemen, my nephew, Jason. Looking for his first job as a bona fide attorney, in or around Phoenix, AZ. References upon request.