A picture describes him better than I can and here is the one taken the night of my Senior Prom.  How I adored him and doesn’t it show?  Friends pushed us together.  He was the kind of bad boy parents don’t want their daughters dating–high school drop out, juvenile delinquent and in those days ,what was also worrisome to my parents, the child of a divorced mother and a Catholic.  Did I have a clue how my parents worried about the love of my young heart?  Not a clue, they handled their concerns extremely well.  When they heard Lee, that was his name, and I planned to plight our troth, they only asked that we wait until I completed at least two years of college.

So when I went off to college, Lee enlisted in the Army.  He was assigned to the Screaming Eagles and shipped off to Germany.  He wrote regularly at first and then the letters dwindled and after a year apart came the Dear Jane letter.  He was getting married and wished me well. Sigh.  I cried and cried and cried some more.

I do hope Lee’s his marriage turned out to be a good one.  I don’t know.  I only know that he died several years ago.  I am grateful now to have been loved so tenderly and sweetly.  Everyone should know such a first love.  I am equally grateful we did not marry.    I stopped crying in time and  had my heart broken a number of times before I married David.  Moreover, I broke some hearts.  It seems to be the stuff of love seeking a forever after.

As much as Lee  loved me, he would have asked no more of me than that I be a good wife.  The one demand he made on me was that I become a skilled driver.  In addition to the hot and heavy nights of necking and petting, I remember most that he made me drive his car through creeks, up dirt roads, and in the snow. He made me spend two hours driving on a snow covered parking lot, until he was satisfied, I could get out of a spin safely  His mother had never learned to drive, and he didn’t want his wife to become dependent on others if something happened to him.  (The one thing my father demanded of me was that I attend college, his mother hadn’t and when her husband died she was dependent on the “Kindness of strangers.”  Hadn’t connected with that before writing this. )

Lee worshiped me and that was a great gift, but one that didn’t push me to be all I could be.  I don’t remember a word or criticism or anger between the two of us.  His breaking  my heart was probably one of the good things that happened to me as was his love.  David, who became my husband ten or more years after I received my dear Jane letter from Lee, demanded much more.   The little known poet Roy Croft wrote this, ” I love you not for who you are but for what you have made me become.”  David appreciated my brain;  most of all, however, he was and is not just  my best friend bit my greatest critic.   That has pushed me to become more than I thought I could be.    He too has broken my heart, and I his, that is the way of imperfect love, not worship.  As the poet knew, in the end imperfect love more valuable; providing you stay around to mend the breaks.

Share, care, and stay strong.

IMAGE:  by my mother.

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