This time I stopped in Chicago. I got a job waitressing at a very nice restaurant. It was the most peaceful few months I had known. I had no men to worry about and the restaurant paid my meager needs. My soul began to heal and so did my heart. After about six months, I felt well enough to start looking at men again. I met Mark unexpectedly on the train. He was full of good Midwestern values and I played the part well for another six months. He asked me to marry him and I knew then I wasn’t healed. I said no. We both cried. I ran again. This time back home.
Three years can change a place mightily. I didn’t recognize all the new business or the new people filling the positions. I worked as a custodian in one of the new offices. David was young and rising quickly. He needed stability to prove his staying power and continue rising. He offered me an easy life in exchange for the sham of engagement. He created the story and I followed along. I had met him in Chicago. We fell madly in love, but I wasn’t ready for commitment. He left for a better job and I followed him here even unto the custodial work. He lovingly took me back and we were engaged immediately. We hadn’t set a date, but that would be coming soon. After four months of that story, he was forced to add the caveat of a dream wedding in Italy. He was saving to give me my dream. He was actually trying to talk me into a marriage of convenience. He was planning on wooing me into submission in Italy. It didn’t sound like a bad plan. I warmed up to him and the relationship began to take on a real quality.
One would think with his careful job planning, he would lack adventure. Oddly not true. He was constantly seeking adreniline. We visited Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, the Jersey shore, and Nantucket. We climbed mountains and ate at exotic places. He bought me nice things. He liked me looking expensive. It proved he was more ready to move up. I liked the going. I liked the looking nice. I even liked him. Marriage sounded like a great option. He was always honest about his goals and intentions. I liked that. When I wasn’t ready for a physical relationship, he waited. He was always around. He would sit and watch TV with me. We didn’t have to say anything. He was just there. He started sitting at the other end of the couch. As time moved on, he sat closer to me. He would put his hand on my knee. He would brush my hair out my face. He would put his arm around me. He would bring his dog over. Boomer was so sweet and gentle. He would sit at my feet and follow me around like he was protecting me. We would walk him around the neighborhood or take him to the park. It was almost like a family.
As fall neared and our Italy trip grew closer, I gave him more privileges. I went to his apartment some. I even slept over and yes it really was sleeping. I did let him kiss me and we started going out. We went to the movies and went out to eat. So people in town started talking about us as a real couple. Italy was looming and he asked me when I would make a decision. I told him Italy. I laughed and told him if he was more handsome than the statue of David, we would go straight to the church. He laughed at the thought and said it was a deal. Within the month, we were in Italy. The first place we visited was the statue of David. He asked what I thought and suddenly I didn’t know if I could go through with it. He saw my reticence and took my hand. He demanded nothing. He said, “When you are ready.” At that moment, I knew it was love and it was real. I looked up at him and said, “Let’s go.” He laughed loudly. He got a mean look form the guard. We quickly slunk away looking appropriately shamed. He said, “Em, are you sure?” I nodded yes. He asked, “Now what?” I dragged him to the gift shop and didn’t find a mirror. Left with no choice, I dragged him back to the statue of David. I promised the guard we would be quiet. We walked back to the statue. I squinted carefully at them both. David just stood there waiting. I touched his chest and felt his heart beat. “Yeah. You are a more handsome man than the marble statue. Let’s go to church.” He took me in his arms and lifted me into the air. We giggled like little kids and got another mean look. We passed the guard and David said, “She’s all mine. So we best be moving on.” I blushed red, but was insanely proud at the same time. We hurried out without seeing any other art. We started running toward our hotel hoping for a church recommendation.
About halfway there, we saw a church. He looked at me and said, “Here?” I was in love and so was he. We entered and begged the priest. He was Catholic, but I wasn’t. So the priest gave us communion to make me ‘closer’ to Catholic. Then he performed the ceremony with a local woman as the witness. We signed a paper in Italian that we couldn’t read and paid him more than he wanted. We stared at each other in the expanse of the cathedral for minutes. We eventually walked slowly back to our hotel. The day seemed brighter. The air was cleaner. The street noise was quieter and farther away. We made it back to the hotel. We made it to the door of our room, but not to the bed. Hours later we dressed in our finest and had a five-course dinner with champagne. We came back full of love and food! We continued our honeymoon and saw the Tuscan farms, the Fountain of Neptune, the Duomo, and all the fashionable stores. We floated down the Arno. We even went back to the museum. We saw the other art and passed David again. I patted him and said, “Yes, definitely more handsome.” We giggled quieter this time.
Ten days passed so quickly. I wasn’t ready to leave. He promised we would save up and go back soon. We flew back in to JFK. The reality hit me and I worried. We talked in the airport and he assured me we could plan a ceremony for my parents to attend. “Besides, we don’t even know what this paper says.” I can still hear him saying it. I was comforted and assured again. He was magic like that. We decided to go straight to my parents house to tell them the news. We never made it there. That year we had an early snowstorm. There was ice. We didn’t see it. Our car turned over and over and over. He grabbed my hand and said, “I’m so sorry.” Three days later I woke up in a strange hospital and couldn’t understand why he wasn’t there holding my hand. I asked and asked about him. No one answered and I knew it was bad. My dad came in and told me he didn’t make it.
I closed off then and there. I floated through community college until Professor Thorn introduced me to St. Ignatius. Then I began healing and opening up again. I owe him my life and my soul.”
Emily finally stopped. She looked up a bit surprised to see someone sitting in front of her. “Sorry, I haven’t had a friend in a long time. I don’t get to talk about David much.”
“Oh. Not at all. Stories need to be told. It’s the best way to share God.”