About ten years ago, I fell in love with a man I hardly knew. In the spirit of new romance and taking chances, I upended my life and moved to Iowa. Our relationship lasted five years. Like all relationships, it was a lot. Unlike any relationship I’d ever had, it tested me in every way possible and that experience in its entirety directly shaped who I am today. The man this is about passed away a few months ago. I’ve often wanted to share the story of our relationship here and the lessons it taught me but I never felt I had the right to, in fairness to him. The way things ended for us was in no way peaceful or respectful. It was so painful and personal that I was never quite sure how to talk about it. And with his passing, I’ve been walking this super awkward line of feeling grief about it and feeling like I don’t have a right to feel grief about it.
When you spend that amount of time with someone, it’s inevitable that you’ll be a keeper of memories (both past and present) and a walking testimony to their life. That’s really the hardest part about grieving this for me – the stuff that has no place to go now that he’s gone. I mean, I could tell you all of Dave’s favorite things from the time we were together but what do I do with the memories of his that I’m the keeper of? There’s just no place for me to put them.
I feel like part of what I’m feeling now is the heartache of knowing his energy and spirit are no longer Earth-side and also sadness from the heartbreak that I ran away from when we went on to live our lives separately. I’m struggling with the finality of how things were left. Things I hoped one day we could talk about.
A friend once said of him, “to know Dave is to love him” and that was so true. He never met a stranger and there were people scattered all over the country that he called friends. We never went anywhere he didn’t run into someone he knew or where he didn’t make a new friend. I fell in love with Iowa through his eyes. I still call Des Moines my home because he showed me how lovely she could be. I fell in love with baseball because of how passionately he felt about the game. He taught me about history and gardening and music. He was so complicated that it’s hard for me to talk about him. I feel grateful I experienced his kindness and that our time together allowed us both to grow and go on to find the lives we were meant to live. I’m just so sorry there isn’t more of his on this side of life, but his impact remains.