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Different Loves 4

Then there are epic loves.
The loves that last a lifetime.
Not just happily ever after.
But loves that stay
For better,
For worse.

Of course,
I mean Dave.

I've written so much of this story
Here on this blog.
I struggle with what to say.

Should I tell about
The first time I met Dave?
The first night we talked?
The first time we fought?
When I finally knew I loved him?
The million moments that made him special?
Or how he died
Leaving me in a world
That no longer made sense?

All of these are part of
That love.
The love that for 20 years
Not only changed my life,
But WAS my life.

Maybe that's the thing
About epic love.
It's so much a part
Of the fabric of
Your being,
That it becomes impossible
To separate it,
To isolate it,
To put it into words.

How do I explain that
He was the very air
I breathed?

It wasn't always so.
I first met Dave
When I was on a date with Doug.
Doug and I had been out dancing.
Crimson and clover.
We were back in his room
Playing backgammon
And in came Dave.
Red and white Hawaiian shirt
Guitar over his back
Bandana tied around his head.
"My name is Dave Meyer,
I'm from Walla Walla, and
I wanna be a rock star."
I thought he was a little crazy.

Fast forward about 3 years.
Old Spaghetti Factory.
Dave waiting tables.
Me tending bar.
"Hey Mitch, when you gonna dump that guy
and go out with me?"
"Not today."
We laughed.
He was fun to be around,
Making everyone laugh,
Making everything better for everyone,
Singing in the kitchen.
He and Becky singing duets.
Dancing around,
Beaming smile.

I was still frozen.
Still aching.
Still empty.
Hollow smiles.
Still waiting for
Chapter 2.

One night, all the employees
Went dancing at Shenanigans.
We all danced together,
In a big group.
Pretending to have fun.
Pretending to feel alive.

"Crazy for You" by Madonna came
Pulsing over the speakers.
So, feeling reckless,
I moved into his arms
And we danced.

After closing the bar, the whole crew
Went to Denny's for breakfast,
Around 4 am,
Most people left.

"Let me walk you to your car."
It was raining.
This is Tacoma, after all.
And I leaned against my car.
He leaned against me.
And we talked.
And talked.

He sang Rex Smith.
"You take my breath away,
I don't know what to say."
And gave me one of those
Signature Dave hugs.
And said,
"When you going to move in with me?"
"Not today."

I went home.
At 8 am.
My roommates were freaking out.
"Where were you?
What happened?"

What happened?
Good question.
Later that day,
From my yard, I saw him,
Driving down the street
Where I lived.
In his orange beetle.
Members Only jacket.
U2 button.
Smiling, singing.

I told my roommates
I was going to the library.
I walked straight to his house.
He opened the door
Wrapped his arms around me,
Picked me up
And sat down on the couch
With me on his lap.

I'd like to say
I knew then.
But I didn't.
I knew he was special, extraordinary, really,
But I didn't know.
My roommate said,
"You can't date him.
He has no goals."
I said, "Well,
It's not like
I'm going to marry him."
(at least not today)

Two months later,
He was set to go back to
Walla Walla for the summer.
Big party at his house.
I was working.
As the restaurant closed,
He walked in.

"What are you doing here?
You're supposed to be leaving."
"I can't leave.
If I do, nothing will be the same
When I get back.
And I'll be damned if the
Boys of summer are going to screw this up."

He had no place to live.
So he moved in with me.
I still didn't know.

Even though he kept saying
"Marry me?"
I'd say,
"Not today."

Chapter 2 came back.
I saw him.
I told him about Dave.
He said, "This one is different."
I said, "Maybe it could be."
I remember writing about risk.
And fear.  And pain.

You know when you're outside
And it's freezing cold?
Your hands are so cold
They're numb?
When you come into the warmth,
Your hands begin to thaw
And it hurts.
It hurts like hell itself.

That was happening
in my heart.

And I fought it.

Four months later,
A big dance.
We went.
And fought.
I drank too much.
Walked home.
Lifted a rock half my size
And put it through the window
Because I didn't have a key.

I called Chapter 2.
"It's too hard.  I can't do this.
I'm coming to you."
"I'll meet you at the airport," he said.
I packed my things,
Headed toward the door.

There was Dave.
I pushed by him, swearing.
He followed me down the street.
I kept walking, angry, hurting.
He ran a few steps and caught my arm.
My bag flew, sending clothes everywhere.

"I will not let you leave,
Until you look me in the eye
And tell me why."
So I looked him in the eye,
And began to cry.
For the first time in over a year.
I cried.
He picked me up,
Carried me home
Cradled in his arms,
I cried.

In the morning,
Dave still sleeping,
Wind whipping in through
The broken window,
I thought about the last six months.

It was like I could finally see
This extraordinary man.
His dedication to his family,
His fierce love for his friends,
His formidable intelligence,
His funny, goofy jokes,
His tenderness,
His faith,
His loyalty,
His strength.

With my heart whole
For the first time
In a long time,
I knew.

People wonder,
How do you know?
And other people say
You just do.
You just do.

For 20 years,
We built a life together.
Big stuff like
Degrees and careers.
Little stuff like
Mowing the lawn
And drinking coffee together.
(Me, not him. He never drank it,
Just kept me company.)
Music, always music.
Doug there, every day,
The third leg of our triangle.
Reading to each other
On long car trips.
Me punching Dave in the middle of the night
When he was sleeping peacefully
As I tried to nurse a crying baby.
Hard stuff like
Kyle's death
Kenny's autism.
Beautiful stuff
Like the four children we created.
And ugly stuff
Like car wrecks
Gamma knife
In sickness and health.
"Not today."

Suddenly, it was today.
He was gone.
I tried to be grateful
For the epic love of a lifetime,
That truly did last a lifetime.
But I wasn't.
I was bewildered,
Wanting him here.
Having to be strong,
To be both mom and dad,
To shepherd our children
To adulthood.
Because I promised him.
I told him that I knew he had to go,
But that they would be okay.
I would make sure.
We won't fail.
"Not today."

Love that lasts
Even after death
Did us part.

That's an epic love.
Yes, today.


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