1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
At twenty-three, a huge piece of my heart was stolen from me, and I have yet to get it back.
More importantly, I don’t want it back. I’m happy that the man I gave it to still holds onto it, almost thirteen years later.
David is the most beautiful person I have ever been blessed to know in my life. His heart is huge, and rather than being golden, it is pure platinum. He gives freely, and kindly, but if you cross someone he loves? It’s best to duck and cover. And I won’t lie: David has been very blessed in the looks department: Is it his eyes that smolder and pierce while they envelope you? His strong jaw-line? His broad shoulders and slim hips? Maybe. But I believe his soul shows through in everything he does, and that is what makes him turn every head in the room. His beautiful soul is something my heart did not hold a single chance against.
David is also gay.
You thought you were reading a romantic love story, didn’t you?
I met David when I was twenty-three, and he was eighteen. Everything about David exudes a gentle type of caring that wraps around you and makes you feel better for having simply met him. He called me “Momma Amber”, a nickname I still hold to this day, and I began referring to him as my “gay husband”. He would bring me roses every now and then, for no reason other than he understood how much I love roses. We’d go dancing together. We’d go out to dinner, and have long talks about everything from books, to love, to life. He’d introduce me to his boyfriends, and then the three of us would go out to dinner together, followed by dancing. My face would light up when someone would mention his name, and his face was my heart.
When my first marriage ended, long after it should have, and my world was falling apart, David was the glue that held me together, whether as a shoulder to cry on, someone to make me laugh, or someone to be a designated driver (I was robbing the cradle with my gay husband, being five years his senior). He was my anchor in holding on to life, and the most supportive of all my friends. When I began working two full-time jobs out of financial necessity, he sent me an email: “I know you’re not going anywhere… But God, I miss you already!”
The very sad, very painful truth that I hate to admit is that a fight within our group of friends separated David and I for ten years. Pride, anger, jealousy? You could probably use any deadly sin to describe what caused the break. And while the fight was not between David and myself, the result was still the same: Ten years with a gaping hole in my heart, that was nothing but a huge void.
Age is only a number…
I read recently that distance isn’t important when loving someone, it’s about wanting that person you love there with you when you experience something. That is probably the most honest statement I’ve read in my life. Because when things happened in my life, meeting my biological mother face-to-face for the first time, getting married again, becoming a mother, making the soul-wrenching decision to have a partial hysterectomy at age thirty-three, my mind, as well as my heart, would think of David and wish he were there with me. I would wish that I would have put my fucking pride on the shelf and not let go of someone so very dear to my heart.
Call social media a blessing or a curse, I’ve held both opinions. But thanks to Facebook, I found David again in Fall of 2011. And we let go of the bad bullshit of the past and reconnected. Unfortunately, work schedules and my life as a mother got in the way of actually seeing one another until June of 2012, when David went with me to a writer’s workshop. After the workshop, we went to lunch, and sitting next to him at the table, talking with him again face-to-face after years had passed, those years disappeared. I was a thirty-five year old mother of three, and he was now a grown man (and quite a foxy one at that) of thirty, but it was still just Momma Amber and Gay Husband. It was no different than if we had spent the previous day together. It felt like just a normal, every day event to sit down, eat a meal, and talk with him.
After that Saturday, we made a promise to do our best to spend as much time together as we could. To learn from our mistakes in the past, and to make up for the years we lost. To schedule the time in if need be; and that has had to be the case in some situations. But in others? It’s a last minute text or call saying, “Come out and see me,” or “I miss you” followed by, “Come on down!”
In late July of 2012, I released In the Gloaming a poetry collection that was, above all other things, painfully honest. In this collection, I did something I hate to do: I was very upfront and open about how I feel about a few very important friends. You can imagine how surprised I was by the response to the poem I wrote to David. Readers wanted to know about the love affair that inspired the poem. People commented on how romantic it was, how much passion must have been felt between myself and this other person to inspire such words. And I have to chuckle, because there has never been a romantic moment between David and I, not to mention the fact that David is just not built to feel that way about me.
I have no name
I just quite simply am
There is nothing to define me
Yet I become so much brighter
More colorful and free
Hope begins to take over
And I can just simply be
There are no labels
I’m free to finally become
Free to breathe
Free to break
Free to heal
And free to take.
There is, however, a great deal of love between David and I. He will never make my knees weak, he will never take me in a fit of wild and lusty passion, because that’s not in him, not how he’s built. He will, however, let me cry on his shoulder when my life gets too much to bear, he will hug me as hard as he can, and he will grip my hands in his and tell me that he loves me very deeply and he wants my happiness more than anything else.
What *real* love looks like…
David has recently made the decision to move to a city three hours from the one we live in. And when he told me, I sobbed, my heart already aching for my friend no longer being a half-hours drive from me. A few nights later, we went out, and when his upcoming move came up in conversation, I looked at him and said, “I’m really dreading you leaving.” He rolled his eyes, and I put my hand on his arm, and said something I have only ever said to two people in my life, two people who mean everything to me, who I would move heaven and hell for: “As much as I want and need you in my life, I want and need your peace, your joy, and your happiness more. Even if I’m not there. Even if I don’t get to see it, even if I’m not a part of it.” He hugged me to him, and I didn’t fight the tears that came. Why hide tears from one of the few people in the world that are worthy enough to hold onto a piece of my heart, wherever they may go?
David may move three hours away. He might one day move thirty hours away. I might only get to see him once or twice a year. But loving someone completely, loving someone unconditionally? That means letting them go. And letting them go does not mean you’re no longer in their life, it just simply means that you love them enough to put their happiness above your own.
David has taught me so many things: that the margaritas at Gloria’s in Oak Lawn should really be named Stealth Bomber, that the purest form of love is often the most simple, that unless someone loves you as you are they have no real place in your life, and that time and distance do not matter when it comes to love. Because those that truly love us? It doesn’t matter how far away they are, how much time passes between seeing them one time and the next. What matters most is that the love remains. That ten weeks or ten years doesn’t matter. Love, true love, the kind that should be written about, remains through the bullshit.
David, when you read this: Thank you for the light you have brought into my life. You are one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. I love you, you wonderful blessing. Thank you for the love and care you take with the piece of my heart you still have, thirteen years after the day I was blessed to have given you.