“Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third.”
~Marge Piercy

In order for any of this to make sense to me, or to you, I need to start with the beginning. No, not how we met, although that will have its place in this narrative. No, the beginning of how we came to be who we were when we met, so you (and I) can better understand why we meant so much to each other.

So. I am 35 years old. Never married, no kids, and very happy that way, thank you. I won’t say I had a bad childhood; I didn’t. I didn’t have an ideal one either, but who can truly say they have? My parents did the best they could with what they had to work with, and through no fault of their own, they didn’t always have a lot to work with. I learned to be independent and strong, and had a nearly fatal allergy to intimacy or any kind of interdependence in relationships. I was the the girl always halfway out the door; I was Zooey Deschanel in “500 Days of Summer.” Despite that, I have a deeply caring heart, and fierce loyalty to those I care for.

I am a Sagittarius born during the year of the Fire Dragon, which makes me a triple fire sign. It’s a wonder I don’t just self-combust. He used to say that although he never saw me express anger, he could see it rising in my eyes, and he was frightened by it.

He was just 30 when he passed away. Born and raised in Michigan, his childhood was even less ideal than mine. Characterized by an almost maniacal devotion to religion in his mother’s house and a psychopathic rage and misogyny in his father’s, he often found himself caught in the middle, struggling to find himself and a clear space to stand.

He used to say he didn’t know what messed him up more: the religion or the violence.

When he was only 19 years old, differences in religion and lifestyle led to his mother disowning him and casting him out. Unwilling to return to his father’s violence, he began to live his life in a half-lit netherworld, never truly returning to the light again.

At 25, his girlfriend at the time gave birth to his son. The relationship dissolved in anger and infidelity on her part, frustration and pain on his, and she took his son and left. One bad decision led to another, and he left Michigan last year. After bouncing around the country a bit, he came here. And found me.

“Sometimes the truth just ain’t enough,
or it’s too much in times like this
Let’s throw the truth away,
we’ll find it in this kiss”
~”Worlds Apart” Bruce Springsteen

I, am of course, leaving out the vast majority of the facts. In this case, the facts not only don’t tell the whole story, they actively obscure it. The essence of what became important-became, in fact, everything-is found between the lines, transcending the spare bones of detail and evidence and objective observation. He was a lost and lonely soul, a walking contradiction, part Robin Hood, part Dark Knight, looking for someone who could not only understand but accept him as he was. I was more than a little lost myself, recently recovered from a destructive relationship, looking for someone who could accept my own contradictions, without trying to minimize my intelligence, to cripple my strength, who didn’t feel threatened by my inherent nature. Someone, in short, who understood me.

We were alike. Frighteningly alike. In the areas where we differed, we were nearly perfect mirror images of each other. He was Water to my Fire. This is what we gave each other, then: unconditional love, unconditional acceptance. A clear-eyed, intuitive view into each other’s minds and hearts. We found a home.


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