This post was written and published with the consent and input of the survivors referenced below.
A while ago Anne Theriault tweeted something that really struck a chord in me: It’s funny how even the deaths of people that you didn’t respect or like or ever want to think about again can still sting so hard.
It’s in regards to Rob Ford, the infamous former Mayor of Toronto, known for his addictions, scandals, and general disgrace. There is a Rob Ford in my own life, and I’m 99% sure he’ll die before we ever speak to one another ever again.
I think about how I’m going to feel when I get that phone call. My heart hurts for the people that he’ll leave behind and all the wrongs that will never be righted. I’ve accepted that an apology is never coming. I’ve also accepted that I do not have to forgive him, I do not owe that to anyone. It does nothing for me to pretend like what happened to us was okay. It wasn’t okay. To withhold forgiveness holds him responsible for his wrongdoings and trespasses. He hurt me and others and caused irreparable damage that will carry a lifetime of emotional scarring.
He’s going to die one day, and it will be really hard for me. I will be angry, and sad. I’m sad that he ruined his own life over some very selfish decisions, but more so that his pride kept him from being in a loving relationship with his family. The number of times that we tried to help him, pleaded and argued with his family to help us help him, fell on deaf ears until it was too late. They were in denial that there was a problem.
To withhold forgiveness holds him responsible for his wrongdoings and trespasses.
Misogyny played a big part in his wife not receiving the support that she needed. He wasn’t physically abusive; he merely followed her around the house from room to room calling her a cunt and telling her how useless she was for years and he wasn’t an alcoholic because he didn’t slur his words or stagger. There was never any consideration for the children that lived in that house with him.
It’s an old and toxic way of thinking, and I’d like to think that his family would do better for for her if this happened now, but I’m not so sure. I likely won’t be invited to his funeral, which is is fine but I would go to support his only child, who didn’t know her father before he succumbed to addiction and undiagnosed mental illness(es).
This is the only way she ever knew this man, and he terrified her. A trip to Disneyland will not erase the times that he was drunk and made her get in the car with him to blow through stop signs and red lights at speeds greater than 80 km on residential streets. An afternoon music festival won’t smooth over that he packed up her things without warning and left them on his porch in the rain. She will never forget that he kicked her dog in the ribs, or yanked his leash so hard that the dog cried out in pain. He will never know about the tears that she cried and the sleepless nights of anxiety before she had to go to a court appointed visit with him, and to this day he still tells her that his ex wife and her daughter ruined their relationship.
But he will die one day, and he will likely die before she ever gets the chance to tell him that he is a monster, that he scared her, that she feels abandoned. He’ll leave behind enough hurt and betrayal to last a lifetime, there will be no last minute pardon of his wrongdoings. He will never truly know, because he is blind to others suffering. For us, the suffering never ends.