I was scrolling through pictures this morning, sick and tired of being sick and tired, I attempted to distract myself long enough to find this gem. And I laughed out loud when I saw this.
I happen to be deeply in love with my husband. We met 26 years ago, under nefarious circumstances. I was married to his boss, for one. I fell in love with Dwain despite heroic efforts not to. I was preparing to marry the man I had lived with for 5 years. Although I loved him, I was not in love with my fiancée. I confided and confessed this dilemma to anyone and everyone who would give me the time of day. I went to a priest, as we were to marry in the Catholic church. Only my best friend understood. “You need to stop this wedding momentum and live on your own for awhile,” she said.
I well remember the day I told him. It was a week before our wedding, and I had lost so much weight my wedding gown had to be taken in 4 times. I couldn’t eat. He would take me to my favorite restaurant, order my favorite Caesar salad….and I would reward his kindness by becoming hysterical and sad. One night I came home to find him in bed. I sat down next to him, took his hand, and told him I was in love with another man. To say that my heart was broken would be a grave injustice to hearts everywhere. I was inconsolable. I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting him. While Dwain and I had never kissed, we both knew we had the kind of passion that cannot be denied, destroyed or delayed.
One night, Craig (his name has been changed to protect his privacy) approached me while I lay weeping in bed. He said, “I feel like I am ruining your life.” The statement only added to my guilt and pity for the man who had been so amazingly good to me. I met him when I was suffering a deep depression brought on by my previous lover. Sitting in a bar with some friends one evening, he walked by our table. “You have amazing eyes,” I said. Not exactly shy, I gave him my phone number and he called the next day. Those glorious, cell-free days of the eighties. Looking back now, I would do it all over again…they were some of the most thrilling and happy days of my life.
We began dating immediately; he was kind, a good listener, and again….those eyes. Craig took me to Pittsburgh to meet his family. I felt safer and happier in Pittsburgh than I ever remember being. His mother and I clicked, I genuinely loved her from the beginning. His brother became my best friend, and would later get me through one of the hardest times of my life-cervical cancer. The extended family was wonderful, and years of visits followed. I finally had the big, happy family I had dreamed of my entire life.
Fast forward to the beautiful Victorian wedding in Lititz, Pennsylvania. I wish I had kept the pictures, but back then it was just too painful for me. Friends and family flew in to help us celebrate. Knowing I was unhappy, my sister came and spent the entire week with me. To this day I assume my Irish Catholic mother, Mary Lou, sent her to make sure I walked down the aisle. Two days before the wedding, my sister took me to say goodbye to Dwain. I had just come from getting my nails done, and I had a Dylan cassette for him. He just happened to be home, and we talked in the kitchen. I gave him the tape, tears flowing unabashedly, and turned to go.
“I promise. I won’t be at the wedding.”
Hearing that, I kept my composure until I reached the safety of my sister’s car. There are no words to describe the condition my heart was in at that moment. My sister, incredibly understanding and patient with me, grew concerned. I honestly believe I was sleep walking through those days. So torn between the gathering momentum and celebration, and just saying, “No. I am not able to love you as you deserve to be loved.”
The first time Dwain and I kissed, I freakishly told him I loved him. “Well, that’s the end of that,” I thought, sadly. But I didn’t scare him off and it became increasingly clear that we were both in big, big trouble. Craig and I honeymooned in Cape Cod, somewhat successfully, but there was drama: My sadness at the finality of everything and his growing realization that I was lost to him, hopelessly and foolishly in love with another man.
A few days after our return, I was upstairs preparing to have surgery for the cervical cancer that had been diagnosed a year before the wedding. My sister and a family friend had driven my mother up for the biopsy. Despite my concern for the following day, it was incredibly comforting having them at my house. I had moved to Schaefferstown when Craig acquired a position with Quaker Alloy as a metallurgist, and moving had been devastating for me. I grew up in King of Prussia, but a still, small voice had always told me that I wasn’t a “hometown girl.” Having a not-so-happy high school experience (I was a coxswain for the crew team, and I had a small, close circle of friends) I inherently knew I was meant for another place, a different atmosphere-the Main Line was hard, judgmental a place in which to live and meet with others’ expectations. Money, money, money…..and the idea of consistently running into the cheerleaders, football players and coolio chicks was unappealing to say the least. But the move was very difficult for me and I left behind many friends and my family.
I could hear my sister and mother speaking in the kitchen. Lost in my thoughts, I almost missed the sound: the obvious air and ear pollution that announced his arrival approximately 20 minutes before he made the turn onto Route 897. My mother, somehow, knew that I was in love with a “long haired, hipster doofus.” To this day, her witchcraft remains mysterious. She just knew things.
I stood at the top of the stairs, my heart in my throat. The look of irritation on my mother’s face stopped me dead in my tracks. I told my sister I had no idea why he was there, and at that moment, I was at a loss.
As if in slow motion, Dwain knocked on the door. I opened it. Unfazed that I was two days home from the honeymoon; unfazed that my mother would rip him to shreds with one hand tied behind her back……completely unconcerned about anything but me. He looked into my eyes, my knees almost buckling, and I knew. There was no one else. Only he mattered. The last 26 years has been an emotional and passionate roller coaster: from public stigma to alcoholism, depression and the loss of many friends and family members; we stand united and very much in love. My sister can tell you that I am not whole without my better half, and extended periods of absence are unbearable for me. He is the hardest working man I know. His son is my son and we have a family, Jesse, Dwain, Brad, Chelsea and myself. We are the Hoffmans-we are one part city slicker and one part redneck. We are the Bonnie and Clyde of Kleinfeltersville.
If he could just get me the right size underwear. That would make him perfect….