My wife LaRee and I have been married for forty-five years. We've known each other since early childhood. Our lives together have been touched by every major Life issue of our time. Our love affair began in the months following my father's death in 1970. Below is a short excerpt from a book I am writing. It deals with our experiences with abortion, disease, disability, profound grief and euthanasia—but mostly about the transcendent power of love.
In the early Spring of 1970, it was time to return to the log cabin and prepare it for summer. It was torture. Everything reminded me of dad: His fishing rod hanging in the tool shed, his shoes sitting at the door in the cabin just as he left them the previous fall, a book left open on the arm of his chair. It was like plunging a dagger into my chest.
I took dad's boat out on the lake and went to a secluded little cove where I often fished with him. The water was cold, clear and still. Dead brushes from the previous year lined the shore. Birds chirped in trees celebrating a new Spring. Then I heard a loon's lonesome call in the distance and I collapsed on the floor of the boat and sobbed. I don’t know how long I laid there. All I remember was crying until there were no more tears to shed. Looking up at the sky, I wondered if Dad could see me. I whispered “How will I carry on without you?”
The telephone rang. It was a call that would change my life forever and bring a new and different kind of love: Romance. It was LaRee—the girl I had been sweet about since I was four-years-old. Her voice was like a hymn. She said she wanted to express her condolences about my father’s death. She made my heart leap and took my breath away. For years she lived three thousand miles away in the city of Ottawa. Instantly I wanted to see her. I asked when she was planning to come across Canada to visit her poor, ailing, elderly grandparents living next door (very thoughtful of me, don’t you think? Yeah right!) Her grandparents were not particularly old and they certainly were not poor, nor ailing. LaRee agreed to come when school was out for the summer. We exchanged photo-booth pictures (four for a quarter). I spent a wad of quarters behind the curtain trying to get the right worldly and sophisticated pose. Every day I ran to the post office looking for a letter containing her picture. When it came, the sight of her beauty almost knocked me over! There was no pixy cut and tricycle that I remembered from bygone years. She was stunning! Her beautiful brown eyes made my heart melt. All I could think about was LaRee.
The day she flew to Alberta. I was a bundle of nerves. When her grandparents went to get her from the airport, I watched from my bedroom window. When they arrived back, LaRee got out of their car unaware I was watching her. It was like seeing a movie star. She stood mere feet away. Somewhere deep in my heart a small flame of hope was lit. Was she the one to drive back my crushing sorrow with the magic of romance? After all, we were only seventeen. Did I need love too much to be loved? Self-doubt made me afraid that my desperate heart would chase her away.
... With great uncertainty, I walked to her grandmother’s house, took a deep breath, and knocked on the door with a trembling hand. Something whispered inside me that the door was opening to my future. Could me be we ? Was it all just wishful thinking on my part? Did LaRee believe wishful thoughts can come true?
I entered her grandparents’ house. LaRee turned and looked at me with her beautiful brown oriental eyes. She stole my breath and my heart. My wishful thought was that her heart did the same. LaRee did not know I was in love her before we met that day.
She could be the missing piece of my life and my desperate heart ached for her to love me. But could she? Would she? Hearts too desperate for love often chase love away. Could she love a desperate heart? Was her heart desperate for love too? Was she the light I hoped for or was she just a summer flame that would extinguish in September after she went back east? Would I hear that mournful loon cry again when LaRee left at the end of summer?
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