“Thank you for the wonderful night – I couldn’t have asked for anything more. The Kiss is unreal – truly beautiful. I will treasure it always and will wear it often – if not everyday.”
"Thank you for being the way you are and for giving all that you have."
"We are often cowards who depend on paper and pen to communicate information."
"To begin my life at the beginning, I was born on the 7th of January on 1955 - a cold blustery day. Knowledge of my infancy is reduced to pictures and exaggerated stories since my memories of it are in the recesses of my subconscious. From all appearances, my childhood appears to have been quite ordinary - except one is bound to be influenced by two older, precocious sisters who were determined to mold me into the exemplary child - something they were not."
"Eight grade was a year of loneliness, alienation and severe periods of melancholy and depression. During this time I became well accustomed to listening to Schumann on rainy evenings, writing reams of haiku and very bitter poetry, and studying biology on my own. I read Aucassin et Nicolette and reveled in its poetic romanticism. The culmination of the year came about with my receiving the Clio Scholastic Award, yet this placed me even further apart from my classmates."
"During this time I became well accustomed to listening to Schumann on rainy evenings, writing reams of haiku and very bitter poetry, and studying biology on my own. I read Aucassin et Nicolette and reveled in its poetic romanticism. The culmination of the year came about with my receiving the Clio Scholastic Award, yet this placed me even further apart from my classmates."
Words of Love
"I am sorry yesterday was the way it was. I knew that I had to draw back and become more detached. As you already know I’ve been really depressed lately – for many reasons. Even though Saturday night was very lovely and memorable – it didn’t help me as far as my depression (in fact I became much more so). That is when I decided to become more detached." June 1971
"Caring is a very good thing – yet when one begins to care so much as to read into things which are not intended, then one must draw back." June 1971
"I hope my actions yesterday didn’t bother you too much. You hurt me (intentionally?) and I wanted (?) to hurt you net at the same time I wanted to see you and have everything be nice again. So I decided the best plan was not to talk to you and then to clarify my own feelings. I’m so messed up mentally that I’m sure that because I was upset and because you’re important to me that your actions and words (not specific) were the “final straw”. I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. I hope you’re not made. I couldn’t hack it. In fact, my reaction would probably be an apathetic – “I don’t care” (but I do) one. Try to understand. Yet don’t think I am will to be dominated and/or told what to do (too many others fulfill that role) I don’t know why don’t we talk about it sometime soon." June 1971
"It seems as though all the people making demands on me are making demands only for themselves – that they really don’t care about me or the condition I’m in. That is my problem. I’ve got to learn how to cope with it and my behavior from this point will be determined by how I cope." June 1971
" So, I wish for happiness for you and for us in the future. However, I am too cynical to believe – yet too idealistic to stop hoping. Like Blaudelaire’s in La fleurs du Mal, I can see the whithered flower while it is still in full bloom – and that indeed is saddening. What is the purpose in life – je ne sais pas." July 1971
"I have definitely lost my cool – so to speak. I hope you don’t mind. Right now I am insanely happy – yet at the same time impatient for the future. Maybe I should cool it – and remember my lesson from Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII in “Anne of the Thousand Days”. August 14, 1971
"Another rather interesting thing is that I now think I know what it means to “be in love.” Wow! I hope you don’t think me insane. Twenty-five years from now – (optimistic, aren’t I) – probably 1 year – you’ll re-read this letter and laugh hysterically. Oh well, I can’t help it – there is no one else I can really talk to that would understand." August 13, 1971
"Secondly, I am sorry about tonight – that I failed you. There are a lot of reasons why I am afraid – other than Freudian ones. Firstly - as always – is my upbringing – yet there are some important reasons. There are two main ones – I don’t know which is more important. One is I live in mortal fear of being rejected by you. As you yourself noticed I’ve become even more possessive. The difference between your possessiveness and mine is that my fears are real and concrete – yet the same time nebulous – yours are still non-existent and potential. Even though you told me – our conversation about Candy and Judy didn’t help matters any. I have visions of receiving the Claddagh ring in the mail and then no more letters." August 16, 1971
"The more I love you the more I fear rejection." August 16, 1971
"Plus there is the added fear that I won’t see you for four months – You’ve pretty well scared me into believing “distance kills all bonds.” August 16, 1971
"The other main reason is hard for me to even bring up. As you know I am extremely naïve and innocent. Part of my fear is showing my naiveté. I have very little notion of what you want or expect of me. I am afraid of showing my rather blatant ineptitude." August 16, 1971
"Finally – this whole subject revises another fear that has been going on in my mind, for many many months. For a long time I have been afraid that I 1) haven’t satisfied you 2) kept you back from other things and 3) have been rather a heavy dead weight on you. I don’t to pull you down – impede your progress. Thank you for what you have given me. I am sorry for my failure(s). I hope you don’t decide that I too have too many problems. Remember I am yours – and I need you because I love you, Maureen. August 16, 1971
"You opened up all these experiences to me – just a sweet innocent Visitation girl." August 22, 1971
"Right now I am going through this self conflict where I am either in tears because I miss you or being very cold and removed because I am trying to repress and suppress my grief at not being with you. I decided today I would not trade my love of you and all the beautiful things we have experienced together for anything – particularly not to avoid this grief and sadness. I bet you never thought you‘d hear me say that." August 22, 1971
"I don’t think I will ever find someone so kind and wonderful as you – so no matter what happens I will truly love you forever. I think you have given me more than anyone else I know. I think that not only have you given me love and the opportunity to love you and to know you – you have also been the key to my becoming more of a person. For that I will be eternally grateful." August 22, 1971
"I also miss holding your hand a great deal. You always make me so protected and safe. I really miss having you touch me – fondle my hair, etc. When you held me that night at Taylor’s Falls I felt so close to you and so safe". August 22, 1971
"Therefore – if I have depressed you – be happy because I love you more than any one ever. And I will continue to love you forever (fatally optimistic – ridiculously optimistic) I will write again soon – and hopefully talk to you again soon. I remain yours- August 22, 1971
"I am sorry I display my feminine jealousy so often. I am this way in all my relationships – unfortunately, this is just another manifestation of my insecurity. It all harkens back to the Fromm idea of “I love you because I need you.” I have few close and meaningful relationships. However, the ones I have are very strong – and I depend very much on the people I need." Sept. 4, 1971
"Lately it seems that cards are expressing what I want to say to you. It is so hard to say to you what I want long distance because it isn’t always possible to say it in words – and that is not just me being loquacious. I miss being able to look at you—into your eyes." Sept. 4, 1971
"I hope that I mean as much to you as you do to me." Sept. 4, 1971
"I have been thinking of you a lot. You kind of drift into my thoughts – its hard to do drills when I’m thinking about you and some of the things we’ve done – and will be able to do." Sept. 4, 1971
"So sorry I am saying this to you. Some how I can imagine that soon it would be easy for me to slip out of everyone’s life – maybe at first they would notice – but that would soon pass I think.” Sept. 29, 1971
"I do have something beautiful to tell you. I found a chateau for us. I decided I did not want to live alone – so I picked you – poor you. How did you ever become so unlucky? Anyway I want to describe it to you in detail and other things that have happened to me." Sept. 29, 1971
"I have been sublimating this feeling through a variety of ways. But now for some reasons I know how I feel. I feel a descending overwhelming despair. The only thing that helps is piano – and I don’t even feel like that – but I force myself to play Beethoven – every emotial – the Pathe’tique – so I work things out on the piano. Lately I work and rework passages until I get them. I rarely ever did that before. I suppose that is sublimated anger & fear & tension. Mostly fear and loneliness". September 1971
"Help me – what am I going to do I need someone to hold me and just say they’ll protect me – and there is no one who even knows how I feel!" Sept. 1971
"Anyway (I think I am in a rut) please take care. Even though I’m going through many moods right now I still love you. Write when you can. All my love, Maureen Sept. 29. 1971
Words of Awakening from France
“My mother I have learned to appreciate her as a person – something I don’t do often with her at home. And also Nancy – another wonderful person who I don’t appreciate fully. I think being away has helped me to grow (forced me?) in my relationships. ..I have become more hopeful."
"I know almost exactly what happened. I find I have an amazing ability to piece together bits and pieces and subsequently arrive at a near approximation of the real thing. Yet through all this I smile because somehow it is life and it is romantic and beautiful. I hope you understand what I mean. The experience of other people has taken on for me an air of unreality. So I am looking at this whole event as a fairy tale – yet I wish that I could be the princess you carried off – prince charming."
"But if you have grown for it – maybe that is a good thing that it happened. I think the thing that I realized is that now for me the most important thing is to grow – both intellectually and emotionally. That is why I finally decided I was glad I came – I hurt very badly in August but now I think (?) that it was worth it. Don’t lose your faith in understanding. I understand – because given the situation I would have come up with the same final product – and I can’t say I was surprised it happened. I’m not disappointed – I realize that both of us are human – I might have been surprised had it not."
"So Paul came over and asked me to dance. We talked about Philo and Mme. Pascand. He was in the same gaminel last year as I am now. He just passed his Bac. He is very intelligent. I kept wanting the time to hurry up. I was being picked up at 5:00 and I was frankly bored – and a hurting as Nancy says. Paul and I just sat and talked for about 1 hour. Then they wanted everyone to dance again so we started that – By this time it was all slow dancing and the party had turned into an unabashed make-out session. The French are more conservative about a lot of things – but about touching and sex they are definitely more liberal. Anyway he started to get much closer – I think you know what I mean – I don’t feel like describing. Meanwhile I am going bananas (trying to think of what I would do if he tried to kiss me. Also I was about the time and the fact I had to go to the bathroom – romantic, huh. Well to make a long story short (this sounds like I’m relating a T.V. show) he kissed me. – all in all 3 times. I didn’t know how to react – I may be less awkward – but I’m too timid for my own good. So much for Catholic education. I, in a somewhat similar – although not really – situation - thought of you. How you would have held me and kissed me, etc. Yet here – there was no pretense – really – of love. He didn’t say “I love you”. I can’t decide if I’m taking this as more than it was meant – because everyone in the room was doing approximately the same thing. Maybe it is just something you do in that situation. Well I can’t say I felt guilty-"
"Now, for the first time I am Maureen - not a Vis girl or a Cavanaugh. I believe that I am more independent now - I have become more free. I nolonger feel any ties or any responsibilities except those I wish. I don't feel as if I need anyone really. I can now talk to people - I can make friends on my own - I can live for myself and make decisions for myself." Oct. 11, 1971
Please don’t feel I will change my mind – I won’t. First, I know I’ve grown and changed – I counldn’t and don’t want to go back to what I was. Second, my pride would never let me accept a relationship such as yours, mine, and Candy’s. Thirdly, my pride would never let me admit that I wanted the relationship again. So – forget any chance of reconciliation – o.k. Don’t make this any harder. I feel great- now that I have told you all this. Oct. 11, 1971
"Now I am basically happy. I have loosened up quite alot. I find that I want to be more open and experience people and have them experience me. I find that I can now play the piano for people and never get nervous - be it relatives or friends. That is just one example. I enjoy talking to French people - and to the group. I find that there are some people who I really like - who are really good to talk to. Also, I have become my freer with physical expression - every touch doesn't necessarily impart sexual overtones. A group of us can curl up together and go to sleep - feeling good and feeling like close friends. I still have problems with my group - no one in the group doesn't - but I can say I'm happy." Oct. 11, 1971
"Thank you for what you gave given me - I know that through the pain, etc. I have grown. I hope things go well with you in the future. I wish nothing but the best for you. So goodbye. Maureen" Oct. 11, 1971
"I never had the idea of a “forever yours” relationship. If it seemed that way maybe it was you who misinterpreted my actions and words. I thought you knew me better than that. I’m much too pessimistic to be that sentimental". Oct. 22, 1971
There comes a time when we fly
Sometimes it is harsh to say goodbye
These words were her victory
To rise above her history
Not everyone can or needs to go to France to have their Sabrina moment. For Maureen B Cavanaugh it was necessary and ever so needed. As I wrote almosts three months before Maureen went to France, "My dear, you have driven me back to the pen. It seems our relationship has been one of continual stress for both of us. It seems there are some deep rooted problems which can never be overcome. - I wonder what kind of man you will marry? Whoever he is, he will take you from Minneapolis and give you the time you need to let yourself discover security, peace, and happiness. He would almost have to marry you for what you will be and not for what you are.” Maureen found herself in France and learned to be a woman. First, Henri and then Paul taught her that she was beautiful in both mind and body, and when she went to college she found her true Prince Charming soon after. And from what her husband has said, within the constraints of this imperfect world, they lived happily ever after. For the fact that Maureen lead me to my true love and that I may have helped her prepare for her true love, I am happy for her finding the fourth and best man in her life. I am only sorry that her adventure with Chris was to only last thirty-three years.
Updated June 18, 2013
Words as a College Professor
"The fact is, if you're a serious student, which should be a given, you really won't have time for a big social life. But you'll have an unforgettable experience." --
Maureen Cavanaugh, Assistant Professor of Law
Quote to new students on Washington and Lee University School of Law Web Site