Guest Blogger Megan van Eyck: ‘I didn’t set out to write a scandalous memoir’
Today’s guest is Megan van Eyck, author of the memoir, Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress. Megan’s novel might seem to be scandalous; however, Megan says it’s not and she’s here to tell us why.
I Didn’t Set Out to Write a Scandalous Memoir
By Megan van Eyck
My car stalled as I was driving sixty-five miles an hour, merging from the freeway onto the Interstate. Just like that, the engine stopped running. I was lucky that the worst thing that happened was waiting for a tow truck. My car would be in the shop for the next five days. I was disappointed because I had to pass on the opportunity to volunteer at an upcoming Amyloidosis support group meeting in Portland, Oregon, a three-hour drive from our home near Seattle, Washington.
I’d taken up with the charity when Carlos, my now deceased lover, was ill and fighting for his life. He and I had been involved in an extramarital love affair for over five years and he was the love of my life. During the months he spent waiting to receive high-dose chemotherapy to treat his case of Amyloidosis, a rare and incurable blood disorder, we talked of all the things he would do after he entered into remission. He wanted to be the poster boy for the disease, leading the fight to educate primary care physicians about Amyloidosis symptoms and diagnostic procedures. Instead, he died.
At first, I tried to do things to honor his memory and intentions. I participated in a walk-a-thon to raise money for a related disease. It rained and I walked alone. I attempted to compile a pictorial review of Amyloidosis symptoms to be sent out to doctors in honor of his birthday. I had a hard time finding pictures depicting swollen ankles and protein in urine, and once I finally finished the review, I got a computer virus and lost everything. I offered to sell a product and donate all proceeds to the support group, but my camera broke and I couldn’t take pictures to post online. Then I cheated death on the Interstate.
It didn’t take me long after that to figure I was doing something wrong. I was trying to live someone else’s life; trying to do the things I thought his widow should be doing in memoriam of her dead husband. Up to that point she had organized nothing. I was living in judgment of her and in opposition of my own path. I considered following her example, letting the memory of him fade as I tried to rebuild my life, but I couldn’t reconcile the feelings I had that his memory needed to live on.
As his mistress, getting closure after his death was a challenge. I did not get to say a final goodbye. Attending his funeral was out of the question. I didn’t have a home full of memories: shirts that smelled of him, pictures of a life together, little unexpected things to find that would bring back happy and unexpected memories. Friends and family knew nothing of my loss. He went from being a man who shared my bed several times a week, to a voice over the phone as he awaited treatment, to a phantom. It was more than I could bare.
Then one day I sat looking through the few pictures I did have, taken on our trip to Bangkok. I couldn’t help but get teary as I remembered our happy days, our passionate moments, and the love we shared. Emotionally, he had been my everything: my friend, companion, lover, and confidante. He often called me his other wife, and we had lived as if that were true. I felt that if our love were as true as we always said it was then I owed him more than moving on. I’ve always written, and even been encouraged to write by those closest to me, so authoring a book seemed like a logical option for honoring Carlos.
My choice to have an affair may be considered scandalous; I guess my decision to write about it even more so. But I was not motivated by any aspiration to join the ranks of the Bombshell Mcgees of the world. I have no desire to join the club of media-savvy, fame-seeking mistresses we see on the covers of tabloid magazines. I never wanted to be one of those women. Unlike them, I am not motivated by anything but love.
If I had been Carlos’s wife, my decision to share our love story with the world would have been seen as admiral and strong. My desire to create awareness of Amyloidosis after his passing would have been considered brave. My choice to not let our love die would have been hailed as a testament to its endurance. Only the nature of our relationship makes Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress scandalous, not the love we shared.
And here we arrive to what I consider the heart of the issue: Can love really happen in an affair? There are those who, without having read my book, assume that I am a poor, delusional, broken woman who clings to the memory of her dead lover, a man who wasn’t capable of loving me because he was married. Others assume that I am attempting to cash in with a sordid tell-all, sharing the details of our sex life with the world for $9.99 on the Kindle. Personally, I don’t get the cynicism. Sure, I want to sell books, and yes, due to the nature of my story, sexy details abound. But Carlos and I were more than sex and titillation; we were soul mates. So when you read my story, consider taking it for what it is: my final goodbye to a man I loved and who I wish I could have grown old with.
You can visit Megan’s website at www.widowedmistress.com.