Doug’s Canadian mistress is coming back to my Southern town this weekend

The Book Groupie, aka Doug’s mistress, is coming back to my town this weekend.

Her travel is paid for as part of a grant she won, when he was still alive.

The first stage of the grant brought her here from 2700 miles away and I certainly could have lived without that stress!

The facility I now direct houses a historical archive of the publishing event person that was Doug’s friend. The mistress was a huge fan of publishing event subject, which is how she met Doug.

She and Doug planned to use our mutual friend’s home as a place to be together under the nose of his unsuspecting wife, but his condition worsened and he was lifeflighted to another larger city while she was forced to remain in classes at a nearby university to fulfill the requirements of the grant.

Our mutual friend lives near my office and the mistress stayed with Mutual Friend for a few days.

I prayed and fasted over that situation and begged God, “Lord, please, I absolutely can’t deal with this. Please protect me and make it so that I never have to see the mistress.”

At the time, I didn’t think that was even possible. I thought I was foolish for even asking God for that favor.

But she never came to my facility.

Yes, I had three days of hell and panic every time the door opened. But she never once darkened the door.

And now she’s coming back.

I feel different this time.

Doug repaired our friendship and did so many things to ensure that we reconciled before he died.

I was with him once twice a week in the two months before he died, and spent Wednesday evening with him and his wife Julie, before he died Friday morning.

I was the one who delivered Doug’s last message to her. I was the one who called her when he died.

And now?

Now I’m the one who is aching to see her face to face.

I can’t even explain it and I don’t understand stand it, but I want to see her.

I want to comfort her. And I want her to comfort me. I want to cry with her, about Doug.

She is the only person in this world who could ever understand my grief over Doug’s death.

She is also the only person in this world who can understand the depth of my guilt.

And I want to see her. I just don’t know how to ask.


Time is a healer, time is a thief 

Days will pass
The earth will spin
Suns and moons will rise
Without me seeing you again

The briefest of thoughts
May run through my mind
But I will forget you,
and Time can be kind

I’ll lose your memory
Like I’ve forgotten the rain
Thunderstorms rolling in
On a hot summer day

You won’t exist for me
Like the air I don’t breathe
Like the stars that don’t shine
And the mountain I can’t see

I’ll never feel you
Thinking of me
Like I don’t feel the winter
Like I don’t feel the breeze

Time is a healer
But time is a thief
And time will take you
Away from me

Time will take you
Away from me


Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, just as a dream
Dies at the opening of day.

He still misses her

I know that he still misses her, because he called me by her name yesterday.

When he walked in, (for the first time since December,) he said, “Hi mom, uh, uh, I mean, ‘hey Miss Angel!'”

Tears instantly sprang to my eyes while at the same time I was exclaiming with overwhelming joy, “Josh, you’re back!”

(His school schedule keeps him very busy.)

Josh flushed red so I knew he realized he’d called me mom. I pretend not to notice and flew around my desk to gather him into my arms.

It was a funny sight, me needing to stand on top-toes, even in heels, just to hug his neck, and him burying his head on my shoulder for a moment.

He was already tall, and as teen boys are want to do, he’d just kept growing.

When Josh and I first met, in May of 2018, he called me mom frequently. It was most often just a slip of the tongue, like when you have several kids whose first names start with the same letter.

(His mother was killed in a car accident near the end of 2017 and he’d come to our town to live with his grandmother.)

Some days, he’d call me mom and be completely spaced out, reliving a moment from the past.

There was one really hard day he tried to call her over and over again. That was the day I learned the true meaning of “tears falling like rain.”

Both of us.

Josh became my summer volunteer in 2018. I was very new to the career and the small town and I made a lot of mistakes, some I’m still paying for.

Josh was not one of those mistakes.

From the vantage point of almost a year, I can see that the summer I spent mothering him was not wasted time. Not because I did anything great, I didn’t. Josh just needed a place to be for a while.

Josh spent the day with me Wednesday. He had lots of new drawings for me to copy into his portfolio and lots of life updates to share.

Later in the day the facility traffic picked up and the noise made him nervous. (He’s high-functioning autistic.)

“Let’s walk outside buddy, I need to stretch my legs.”

We circled the building while Josh talked. My heart was so full, hearing about everything in his life, seeing how he’s growing up and becoming more sure-footed, less afraid.

“I have to tell you something Miss Angel, and don’t tell Grandmother.”

I sighed.

“Josh, if it’s illegal or about suicide talk, don’t tell me, because you know I’ll have to tell her.”

He laughed.

“Miss Angel, I never ever think about that anymore! No, this is a good thing. My dad got a good job and him and his wife got custody of Patrick.”

Patrick is his twelve year old stepbrother.

“When school’s out I’m going to move back with Dad and Megan so I can help Patrick get used to being back in North Carolina.”

(The stepmother lost custody of Patrick when he was about 8 because of a drug conviction.)

“Miss Angel, I want to give my dad another chance. And I just love that little fella, Patrick. He’s in my heart. I know he needs me.”

At that moment, God gave me a glimpse of the young man that Josh was growing into. I was as proud of him as I would have been my own child.

“And Miss Angel, I miss being in a family.”

I took of my sunglasses as we headed back in the building.

“She’s going to be proud of you buddy.”

His grandmother Katherine was waiting in my office, her face beaming.

“Josh, your dad called. He says y’all talked about it and you’re moving back back home. I’m so proud of you both!”

I quietly closed my office door and left the two of them in a tearful embrace.

Happy tears, but I could see the memory of pain on both their faces.

Because Josh still misses her.

He always will.

Punch me down

Punch me down
I’m your pillow
Reaching, softly changing
Myself to the shape of you

Fall on me
My care the bed
You trust and collapse to
Believing I’m there, never doubting

Ignore me
The soft and faded blanket
Waiting in silence to cover you
Unseen upon the chair

Take from me
That which I loved
So bittersweetly I return
The thing you never really gave

Forget me
As one does useless items
Taking them for granted
Only to discard

Leave me
Because I’m the one
Of no worth here
Never mattered, it’s so clear

See me
The first time, in goodbye
For I was more
Than you ever really knew

Feel me
Soft for you, always pleasing
Then hurt, but  strong
Now only leaving, now only gone

Doug is fading fast, so I reached out to his mistress

Oh. You thought I was Doug’s mistress?

I’m the one who said no. I did care about him though.

Part of that care found me leaving his house Wednesday and stopping at the Walgreens on the corner to try and contact the other woman.

Yes he is married. I’m not defending what they did. I didn’t like her one bit and she was truly (mostly) bad for him.

But he asked me to “tell her.”

I knew what he meant.

I also knew (but hated to admit) that she brought him joy in those weeks between his cancer treatments.

He buried his reality and traveled through several states and into Canada with her. They stopped at every river they crossed and took selfies, lighting up their individual Instagrams like the 4th of July.

She was young and alive with love for him. He was staring down both barrels of death.

It was probably easy to rationalize their affair by believing that what the wife didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.

I’m not excusing what they did. But a part of me understands it.


I was also motivated to contact the mistress in order to protect Julie, Doug’s wife.

Monday was the last day Doug was able to use his phone and I’d noticed that Julie had it charging next to her chair Wednesday.

I didn’t think she deserved to inadvertently receive any frantic messages from women she has no idea Doug even knew.


It was still hard though. I sat a few minutes biting my lip and taking deep breaths.

Then I hear Asa’s voice, like a little Jewish conscience in my heart.

And from somewhere in me came compassion for the mistress.

She has no way of knowing what’s going on, if Doug is alive or dead.

Whatever I thought about the situation, (I hated it) and whatever I thought about her personally, (jealousy mixed with disgust), I knew I had to reach out to her for all of the above reasons.

So I contacted the mistress.

Since she had followed me on Twitter several months ago I followed her back and sent a DM.

“Nancy, it’s Angel. I just left Doug’s house. My number is 867-5309 if you want to call.”

My phone rang before I could even put my car in reverse.

“Is he dead?” she blurted out. Then she burst into tears.

To be continued…

[I’m not a hero here…I was tempted to do what she did. I just didn’t do it.]

Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack
I went out for a ride and I never went back

Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing
I took a wrong turn and I just kept going

Everybody’s got a hungry heart
Everybody’s got a hungry heart
Lay down your money and you play your part
Everybody’s got a hungry heart

I met her in a Kingstown bar
We fell in love I knew it had to end
We took what we had and we ripped it apart
Now here I am down in Kingstown again

Everybody’s got a hungry heart
Everybody’s got a hungry heart
Lay down your money and you play your part
Everybody’s got a hungry heart

Everybody needs a place to rest
Everybody wants to have a home
Don’t make no difference what nobody says
Ain’t nobody like to be alone

Everybody’s got a hungry heart
Everybody’s got a hungry heart
Lay down your money and you play your part
Everybody’s got a hungry heart

“I say goodbye without telling him”

[Old poem-ish thing.]

I’m feeling over it
Exchanged a few pleasantries
Briefly discussing the angry words
Then agreed to let them go

So we could both pretend
There was no fight
Because anger is rooted in feelings
That can’t exist here

So I put it to bed, in my head
I say goodbye
Without telling him
Because it never was to him,
What it was to me

Then the phone rings
And I’m back in the heartbreak
All over again

I found a picture of you, oh oh oh oh

Goodbye Michael

Dear Michael,

The situation being what it was, when the adoption was severed, I was not able to say goodbye to you, or tell you that I love you.

Do I still?

I wasn’t sure at first, when everything happened. But I think I do love you, now.

I’m still afraid of you though.


You were five when we met, my brother’s long awaited foster son.

The adoption was finalized when you were six and Patrick was four.

Your brown eyes had more hurt in them than I have ever seen, before or since.

We loved you buddy, we did.

Remember how much you loved Brownie, when we came to visit in Myrtle Beach?

After all these years, the love you showed to her still stands out to me.

That sweet little boy, begging to sleep in the garage with the puppy, so she wouldn’t be lonely and afraid.

I finally took you out to check on her. You knelt down on her blanket and whispered, “Shh girl, shhh, don’t be afraid. Mikey’s right here.”

You cuddled right up to her while she licked your face, and you both fell asleep.

I wish that Michael could have been preserved and saved, before all the bad things happened.


I know it was hard for a little boy to come into a family that never understood why you missed your mom.

Being infertile had practically driven his wife into a place of thinking another woman’s child could become her’s and fill the emptiness both husband and wife felt.

That was wrong of them.

But in case you ever wonder, they did love you.

Your birth mom loved you also.

But you know what Michael? Even at age five, you loved and protected her more than she ever did you.

I don’t know if anyone ever told you, but your birth mother was raised in foster homes herself.

I know she caused you and Patrick a lot of pain and trauma. But when you grow up, I hope you will forgive her.

Mostly for your own sake, but also because she just had never been given a fair shot at life herself.


And so we met, and there I was, charged with babysitting two traumatized foster kids for ten days while the foster mom and dad you hardly knew went to Venezuela for ten days.

Supposedly it was a work trip that my brother couldn’t get out of, but his wife could have stayed home with you.

I thought then, “I’m not sure they are prepared for the sacrifices parenting entails.”

And they weren’t.

But is anyone?


My nephew *Michael’s adoption was severed six weeks ago. He is 15.

I don’t know if I have the right to have an opinion about it or even tell his story.

But I feel that his memory, the memory and story of him, and even Michael himself deserves to be un-amputated.

*Not his real name.

Thanks for the memories, it means more than you will ever know

He once tried to seduce me, but as a friend, he had no equal when it came to celebrating my birthday.

Sitting in my car in the Publix parking lot on a rainy Friday night, the last before Christmas.

It’s around my birthday and I’m overwhelmed with memories.

Doug always celebrated my birthday and insisted that I did.

I don’t though, and haven’t in years.

Since my parents died no one in my family knows or remembers except one sister sometimes.

But Doug did.

I don’t know why it meant so much that he went out of his way to celebrate me, but it always blew me away.

My father was the same way, maybe that’s why?


Doug would fuss at me almost all of December, trying to make me remind my children and husband of the date.

I never would, and it always made him angry.

“You think less of yourself than anyone I’ve ever met.”

What could I say to that? He was right.


He started sending birthday cards with gift cards inside, addressed to the entire family on the outside, as if were a Christmas card.

His sweet ploy never worked. No one else ever opened the cards.


This year’s birthday card from Doug was addressed to “Angel.” No first name, no last name, just my nickname.

As if I exist only in that form.


I know it’s the last card I’ll ever receive from him.

He’s dying.

But he remembered my birthday.


I always want to remember the good Doug.

I hope he remembers the good me.

She’s a rounder I can tell you that
She can sing ’em all night, too
She’ll raise hell
about the sleep she lost
But even cowgirls get the blues

Especially cowgirls, they’re the gypsy kind
And need their laid on ’em loose
She’s lived to see the world turned upside down
Hitchin’ rides out of the blues

But even cowgirls get the blues sometimes
Bound to don’t know what to do sometimes
Get this feelin’ like she’s too far gone

The only way she’s ever been