Disclaimer: Dark Shadows is a Dan Curtis production and I am not affiliated with it in any way
And it was all because of pride. Strange that I should chalk my stubborn stupidity up to something as mundane as that, and perhaps even in this observation I am misguided.
My thoughts are restless this night, the wind whipping the skeletal trees outside keeps them awake and gives me time I would otherwise not take to dwell on my many failings as a father. I cannot believe I am actuallly admitting to failure of any kind, for failure in the Collins' family means admitting defeat, and I Joshua Collins have never been defeated.
There it is again, that bullheadedness that always seems to take me unawares, something I can't seem to control or contain, for even my confession is shadowed with it. Moving to the window I stare in to the bleakness of night, and somehow it seems fitting, echoing the starkness of my own heart. Your mother accused me of being coldhearted, cold and distant like a storm about ready to release its fury. I'm certain she was right, but now her recriminations are empty, for she too is gone, lost to me as surely as you. How many years I wasted in disapproval, never trusting your judgement, viewing you as someone I could mold in to what I thought the Collins name should exemplify.
How I regret those lost years as you grew to a man, never being the father you deserved and longed for. I couldn't give you peace or acceptance in life, and I could not offer them to you in death. I tried, My son! I wanted you to be freed from the horrendous malady that afflicted you, and still I cannot bring myself to pen the terrible word, vampire, much less speak it. But hiding from the truth is useless now and I am forced to acknowledge that word that has brought our family so much grief. If only I had been successful in vanquishing the curse, perhaps we might have gathered the splintered remnants of our relationship and tried to fit them together. As it is, I failed you even in this. I could not drive a stake through your heart, neither could I employ the silver bullets to end your miserable existence. In my own way I tried to express emotion in action, words I had such difficulty uttering aloud. Perhaps Angelique's curse didn't recognize or respect that kind of emotion, hence sparing me from the fate of death which so many others suffered.
Unable to defeat the monster you had become I did what I could for you, fulfilling your request to free Ben from his obligations to the family, and helping Victoria Winters, but I wish you had made a simple request for yourself. It may have brought a measure of rest to my soul. I can't blame you for not asking anything for yourself. After all, I forsook you, turned you away, you had learned not to expect any kindness from me. Now you lie imprisoned in a coffin, unable to rest with the deceased in the Collins' family mausoleum, alone even in death. Why do I continue to delude myself? You aren't dead, you aren't living, you are trapped in the twilight between two worlds, a world you can never hope to escape. Just thinking this pains me.
As your father I should have protected you from the cruel reality of life, should have sheltered you against the evil that plagued you, but I too was blind to these events. How I despise Angelique! As long as I draw breath, I shall never forgive her for turning you in to a brutal beast.
Why was expressing love so difficult for me? I pushed away all those who meant anything to me, and for what reason I don't understand. My little girl died, never knowing the light she brought in to my life, even though I treated her with indifference most times, for spending time with her was time lost with the family business. And Naomi, forgive me if this name blurrs on the parchment, but my hand is shaking so that I must stop writing for a moment. A few deep breaths and a stern inner lecture soon return me to the cold rational man she thought me to be. When we first wed I wanted to give her so much, and in many ways I did. I gave her fine clothes, a splendid house, glittering priceless gems, and shouldn't this have been enough? I thought so at the time. Isn't that what all women desire? But she wanted more from me, she wanted love and laughter, emotions I could not give her. I used to lie awake countless nights wondering why I couldn't open my heart to her, but to no avail. Instead of love, I showed her nothing but demeaning condescention and disdain. As the years passed we grew more distant with one another. She stopped trying to coax me in to smiles, the walks she used to ask me to accompany her on she now took alone, and she avoided any physical contact with me that might leave her open to further pain. In some small reach of my heart a part of me wilted when she at last surrendered to my icy treatment of her, for that meant she had given up on me, and if she had lost faith in me, there seemed no hope at all for the man I wished I could be.
The only true pure happiness she found was in you, she took solace in your innocence, lost herself in your smiles, comforted by the knowledge that someone needed her, wanted her. In you she discovered something I was never able to comprehend, the untainted unconditional love of a child. As you grew from infancy to a toddler I watched her devote more and more time to you, even taking a hand in your earliest education, teaching you to write your name. I once overheard her telling you that you must always b proud of the Collins name for it was a well respected family that stood behind it, and it made me wonder why she felt so attached to the name, going so far as to teach you to be proud of it. At this point she felt only sadness for our failed marriage, so why would she tell you to be proud of a name that had obviously caused her so much misery?
As you experienced more and more of life you came to respect me as well, and I often question when that respect transformed in to rebellion and just a bit of fear. If I am brutally honest with myself, I must confess I wanted you to fear me, if only in some minute way, for that was the only way I knew to control you, to shape your future so you wouldn't disappoint or shame the family. If I couldn't truly love, I could at least have family, and the loyalty that accompanied it. To taint our reputable good name with scandal was unthinkable. I couldn't dictate my heart, but I could at least dictate the actions of those whom somehow tried to love me. The starkness of the truth burns through me, searing what tender emotions I have harbored, if not love, then a faint shadow of fondness, and I feel myself bit by bit growing colder, turning in to a husk of a man, a man I am not proud of. In my efforts to create and maintain the perfect family, I believe I have brought more discord and scandal to it than you or any others.
So where does all this brooding and wondering lead me? Do I feel any consolation for having poured out my heart to you even though you will never know? I pause to think upon this, but my heart shouts a resounding "No!". The burden I cary is still heavy, forever a part of me. My entire life was spent building a flawless empire, and in a matter of months it came crashing down around me.
So now I will set myself to the task of writing the Collins' family history, but some things must be altered and omitted in order to preserve the family name, to keep your affliction from the rest of the world. I am doing this as much for you as for the generations to come. I always wanted happiness for you even if my methods were less than kind. I will spend the remainder of my days in solitude, rattling around this empty house, as much of a ghost as so many of those I have lost. it is a fate I created for myself, and if only wishing things could have been different could change the past, I would wish and wish until you returned to me, whole and well, smiling as you stood with your dear mother and sister and Jeremiah. But if onlies are useless now, useless and meaningless as i.
So now I shall close this letter and tuck it securely away where it can never be found. Your eyes will never see it, although perhaps it would assuage my guilt if only you could. But if you will never read this, neither will anyone else. It will become part of the past, a dusty scrap of parchment that speaks of everything I never could. I shall pen the most difficult words of my life, words you never heard, words you needed to hear and should have known. Taking a deep breath as my eyes fill with burning tears I close this letter. My son, my dear Barnabas, I love you.