Many years ago, when I was young and very foolish, I left my husband for another man with whom I had fallen in love. I loved this man as fiercely as I ever could love, and we lived together for a few good years. I have been filled with guilt to this day over what I did to my marriage, but at the time, it felt like my path was set and I was doing what I had to do. I learned to shoot a high powered rifle and a sweet sixteen gauge shotgun with this man. I hunted with him, and shot a deer each fall, sitting and waiting in my tree stand from sun up to sun down. When the Great Horned Owl swooped through my thicket at dusk, it was time to unload, and climb down for the day. He taught me how to skin and process the venison which I made into Italian sweet and hot sausage, and small breakfast links, gifts for my family at Christmas.
He gave me my first diamonds.
He bought me a motorcycle and came with me to safety classes where I learned how to drive it, and after we would go for rides, him on his old Harley and me on my Honda 550 Special. We played cribbage endlessly at night, went fishing at dawn w/ his friend Tom putting his boat in the Delaware and motoring upriver through the morning fog. We'd see deer at the water's edge, magical in the mist.
I learned how to drive a tractor, pull the baler and hay wagon up and down the windrows while he stacked the bales. I lived the happy life of a farmer's wife
We had a lovely sweet time together, that included visits with his best friends, Billy and Cheryl and their boys, Chris and Danny. The boys were enthralled with my throwing of perfect spirals as we'd have a catch with the football in the fall, and my wicked fastball in the spring. They'd never seen a grown up girl throw better than most boys. I grew to love them like family. We'd meet for dinner where 8 year old Danny would order 2 dozen steamed clams and proceed to put a dozen in his mouth, cheeks pouched out like a chipmunk; he'd chew away through dinner, while we laughed and talked over pitchers of beer.
I bought the bakery and ended up spending long hard hours working at building my business. The man was none too pleased, and as I spent more and more hours away from home, he drifted further away from our relationship. I was no longer the sweet young thing he could take out on the town, I had gained weight and looked a fright when I came home exhausted, more and more to an empty house. I was not surprised when I found him at our favorite haunt with a cute little blond by his side.
I was looking for another place to live but meanwhile there were Sundays to spend elsewhere, away from the farm. I would go to the grocery, buy the fixings for a spaghetti dinner, tomatoes, sausage, onions, meat for meatballs. I'd show up at Billy and Cheryl's on my bike and they would tactfully avoid asking the obvious. Instead, Cheryl and I would hit the kitchen and I taught her my grandfather's recipe for meat sauce. I'd have a catch with the boys, we'd throw sticks for the German short haired pointer that was the light of their lives, besides each other. Cheryl and I would pound Coors lights like water, Billy would watch football with the boys and we'd eat a feast of spaghetti and meat sauce, sausage, and garlic bread until we'd groan our way from the table. This Sunday tradition went on for many months.
When I finally found a place to live, the man was not there to help me move, but Billy, Cheryl and Tom were. They helped me pack up my farm life, and moved me to a small house near my bakery. We did finally talk about the man, all of us bewildered over what had happened, why, always why....we'd seemed such a great couple, he loved me, we thought. I loved him beyond all reason and my heart was irrevocably broken.
I continued to work away at the bakery and spend my Sundays with my saviors Billy and Cheryl, punctuated by occasional fishing trips with Tom, my good friend. Then I suffered a series of losses that set me back terribly. My Mother, Grandfather and Grandmother and beloved dog of 16 years all died within a relatively short period of time. I retreated from life, from longtime friendships, from my Sunday tradition. I poured myself into my business, trying desperately to survive through devastating depression. Years passed and I made new friendships through the bakery, good solid friendships. I contacted again friends from long ago. I rejoined the world, in a way. And every so often, although not every week, I'd swing by Billy and Cheryl's. It was always like I had just been there, always welcomed with open arms and warm love.
We'd meet up at the grocery and catch up and promise to call but our lives were busy. I had left the bakery and had a regular job, their boys had grown. I'd stop every so often at the ice cream shop where Danny worked and he would make me the world's best chocolate malted. Then came the day 4 years ago I ran into Cheryl at a tent sale.Her face was puffy in a way I recognized, like Mom's on prednisone after cancer treatment. She told me she had been diagnosed w/ melanoma, but was fighting it every way she could. We talked and hugged at length. I hooked up w/ Billy on Facebook and would see photos of him and Cheryl at their beloved Phillies games, always smiling, Cheryl still with that puffed face but bravely soldiering on through life. They came to see me at the Market and told me I should sell jars of my sauce, and I took their advice...it is a good seller!
Today, Christmas Day 2013, I found out that my dear Cheryl died yesterday after a 4 year battle. Billy said she is in a better place and I want to believe that. But I am saddened deeply by her loss, and for Billy, Chris and Danny. To lose a loved one so young, one so full of life, so full of love is a terrible thing. I cried bitter tears for my friend and her family. I am honored to have had her as a friend, I was lucky to have known her , and in a way I feel redeemed for ending my marriage the way I did, because had I not, I would never had her friendship, such a sweet and remarkable woman, and her family, dear Billy, Chris & Danny.
Wing your way to Heaven, Cheryl and rest well. We will meet again; until then, I will hold you forever in my heart with love, light, and gratitude.