…again, like that. I wrote a while back how the love Dawn and I shared was a perfect (for us) love. It was and is. There lies both the key and the problem.
Dawn and I bashed our heads against the lock of love.
At first we actively avoided any chance of love. To that point, our lives had shown us, we were not those who found love. So as semi-sensible adults we decided to enjoy our time together and not make it all complicated with such things. We had fun. We enjoyed each other’s company while we were together and when she disappeared, no great loss. I had my other relationship and so did she.
We found a refuge from the crazy of our primary relationships, with each other. When our partners didn’t want us, we found each other. It was very strange, but we were two likeminded people who desperately needed shelter from the storms of our other situation. Our relationship was fairly casual but also very close. We became friends almost immediately. That friendship would become the glue that bound us. We did not know it at the time, but that friendship was the first step in building a key.
I am not ashamed to admit that after the third or fourth round of dating, I knew I was falling for Dawn in a way that was NOT casual at all. By this time I knew I was in danger of telling her it was more than casual for me. Then she surprised me with her younger daughter coming down visit. Then she really surprised me when she said she wanted to introduce me as her boyfriend. She told me that with a bit of fear written on her face. I scooped her up in my arms and told her she was a genius. She looked at me with a bewildered expression. I let her go and said, you can tell her that all you want. From my side it is true. I have been trying to figure out how to tell you… I am falling for you… and you go and do this. A look of uncertainty spread across her face, so I grabbed her hand and told her. It won’t be any kind of lie. I was trying to figure out how to ask you to be my girlfriend, but you beat me to it. Kiss me and make it real.
She shook her head as that crooked smile graced her lips. She kissed me then said, you are a very strange man.
I smiled back and told her she was a strange woman, but my kind of strange woman. Then I pulled out a card from my back pocket. It’s kind of anti-climactic now, but…
She read it and teared up. I thought I had been to bold or something. She saw the tinge of fear in my eyes and grabbed me in a big hug. She whispered in my ear. “I don’t deserve you.”
For once I kept my mouth shut, probably because I didn’t want her to hear my voice crack. Then with the perfect timing of a teenager, Tucker knocked on the bedroom door.
Another piece of the key.
We had many other seminal events that we did not recognize in the moment. Each was a piece of the key being built.
As odd as this will sound, by February of 2009 we had all the pieces of the key. We both knew we loved each other. We both knew that Tucker was very happy to have me in their lives. All three of us knew we were a family in all but name. There was one very large problem.
That problem can be looked at from many different angles. We had built all the pieces of the key, but neither of us really knew how to put the key together. She knew she wanted to keep me in her life. She had taken me to visit her family. I knew she was the most awesome person I had ever met and I wanted her to be a part of my life. We were just too broken to know how to do it. So it slipped from our hands.
Shithead stepped in and charmed her into marrying him. That was the absolute worst 8-9 months of my life. The ironic thing, it was also a very bad time for Dawn as well. She knew she was making a mistake when she agreed to marry him. She had a little voice screaming RUN during the ceremony. Then the firestorm came. Cancer. In the moment, that was the worst 6 weeks of her life. She endured two breast surgeries, a husband going from actively ignoring her to demonstrating his desire to kill her by putting her head through an interior wall, being driven from her home penniless with Tucker as a witness to all but the physical attack.
Looking back on that time, she needed the fire to burn her down to the core. With everything else burned away she saw a freshly forged key in the ashes. She did not recognize the significance of the key, but she did see an opportunity where she thought she had none.
She tentatively pushed the key towards the lock. She was too scared to push it in, so she tapped on the lock. To my surprise, I found out I was holding the lock. I was just as shocked to find the lock as she had been to find the key. I tentatively gripped the lock and steadied it for her. She couldn’t get her hand steady enough to line up the key. She tried again. This time the key went in, but she couldn’t muster the strength to turn the key. I turned the lock instead.
The key was roughly forged and the lock was dirty and neglected, but the key fit and it worked. The latch sprang open and wonders poured out. Things we had never imagined sparkled all around us. Before we knew it, the lock was clasped together but it no longer kept us from the garden of love. Now it linked the chain between our two hearts and we both knew how fragile and neglected both the lock and the key had been. We both knew how lucky we were that they worked. Without a word, we both set about correcting the deferred maintenance. As we worked, the lock grew stouter, the key grew stronger and so did the links of the chain.
Before we knew it the chains were gone and so was the lock. But, that was a good thing. They had been transformed into a pair of rings binding two hearts for eternity.
That is why I say it is both the key and the problem. The lock and the key have disappeared. There is no longer a key to unbind me. Even if there was, I would not use it. My heart and my soul are bound to Dawn. Dawn’s heart and soul are bound to me.
She is such a giving soul. In the last week we shared. She pulled me aside and demanded that I do something for her. She demanded that I wait an appropriate time before starting to date. She told me, “no dating for at least two weeks…and no bringing some bitch to live in our house for at least two months”. Looking at my blank stare, she smiled and kissed me, “You are too awesome of a man to not share love again after I am gone. Go and make some woman ALMOST as happy as you’ve made me.”
I may yet do that, but I can tell you at this point. I am done. I have made an effort. I have “dated”. But my head isn’t in the game. My soul and my heart protest. Even my brain asks why. Maybe someday, I will trip into something casual that turns into something awesome. Maybe lightning will strike twice. I won’t be holding my breath or searching anymore.