Throughout the three years of our on-again-off-again-mostly-in-and-out romance, we both fucked around. A lot. I suppose it is poetic justice that I didn't know how much she did until much later. She never knew I did, except for the one time I told her about. Her freakout over that ended with a visit to a hospital, where they gave her "vitamins" that was really Valium. She didn't react well to Valium, and I never fessed up again.
Then there was the abortion I paid for, not knowing, also until much later, that it had been paid for three times over; at least I was the one who took her. And my VCR and ghetto blaster that I had to buy back from her dealer. I never did get my great-grandfather's watch back - I hope whoever took it for a kite of snow came down with a bad case of dysentery.
The winner was when she went to a private rehab in another city, at great expense to me. When I made the long drive to visit a few weeks later, I found her waiting in front of the main entrance with her suitcase. She had been kicked out for going to a motel with one of the male inmates during an unsupervised sortie.
Ever the dreamer, I went to plead her case with the powers that be, to no avail, only to find that she was no longer waiting in the car when I came out. After two days of searching, I headed home. That night, the phone rang around midnight - I had to go rescue her right away. I borrowed a fuzzbuster and made the 500-km drive in three hours flat.
After a weekend of sex and drugs and rock'n'roll in the country, I got her into another rehab, this one a freebie. A week there and she disappeared with motel guy, who, coincidentally, was also there. They made their way back and spent two weeks living in a tent on my future wife's rooftop, another fact I learned much later.
Long story short, it didn't work out. There was something about us that should have worked, a connection that went beyond all the bullshit we went through. There were moments when love could not possibly have been more pure, but history and psychology and addiction prevented those from being anything but few and far between in this lifetime.
Even after she moved out for the last time, and was living with her new boyfriend, I still hoped that God would answer my prayers and make everything the way it was supposed to be. The way it should have been. But when prayers are answered, it is often not in the way we expect.
The day I finally knew it was over was the day I hit it off with the future mother of my beautiful daughters. A mutual friend was getting married, and she asked me if I could give "D" (one of her friends, whose words earlier in 1991 I still recalled) a lift. Geography led me to pick D up first; I helped her get dressed, and played KerPlunk with her daughter while she applied the finishing touches to make herself even prettier than she already was.
I was seated with her, D, and a few of their friends. She got royally plastered and started hitting on the old men. At least one got an impromptu lap dance. At one point the mother of the groom, whom I had never met, came up to me and asked, in her heavy east European accent, "You are --?" I said I was. "Carol is yours?"
"Not any more," I answered.
* * * * *
The last time I saw her was on my 30th birthday, in passing. I later heard that she moved out to the west coast, where she was never heard from again. D thinks that she ended up on Pickton's farm. She's not on any of the lists, but nobody will ever know how many aren't. I prefer to think that she finally cast out her demons and is living happily ever after somewhere.