I’m sitting on my couch, the oven preheating in preparation for two mini pizookies. My legs are draped across his lap, his hand grasping my thigh… the dog’s chin resting on my foot. On the marbled kitchen counter sits a cooling blueberry pie for David. He isn’t allowed to eat it yet because I’ve yet to photograph it. He’s getting used to this life. A life of food that he isn’t allowed. I’m getting used to this life, too. A life of couch cuddles and enjoying food together. I think I could live this way. Oh wait, I do. Uh oh, spoilers!
Let’s begin twelve years ago. Of all the churches in all the towns, he had to walk into mine. We were eighteen. I had recently started dating my longtime buddy, Jon. We met David as a couple, and we grew to love him together. Jon and I dated for six years before becoming husband and wife. During those six years, David became Jon’s closest friend and confidante. I found out later that in the months leading up to Jon’s marriage proposal, he and David spent every Saturday having breakfast together, talking about marriage and shopping for my engagement ring. David stood up at our wedding as Best Man. He made a promise that day to love and support us. A promise he would uphold and deliver on one thousand times over. I never would have guessed this guy we met, the one with the foot fetish, would become one of my closest friends.
Oh, you’re not going to let that foot thing slide? Near the beginning of our friendship, David started calling me “Toes” with an Italian Mafioso accent, because I have the cutest toes anyone has ever seen! Although some people say they look funny. Anyway, David’s fetish led to him becoming my personal toe popper. He would pop my toes every time I saw him. You know how people pop their knuckles? Well, toes have knuckles, too, and they’re ripe for popping! Plus, David’s toe fetish. I dunno.
After Jon and I moved to Seattle, Washington in May 2007 we started speaking to David daily. Jon and David were fully present in each other’s lives. Whether it was over the phone, Google chat, text messages, or on Skype while playing World of Warcraft together, they talked to each other every single day. This led to me talking with David every day, as well, and the beginning of David keeping his promise to love and support us. David became the sounding board for each of us separately. He knew more about our relationship than he probably wanted to. He met us with nothing but love and support. A visit to California wasn’t complete without Jon and David spending some quality time together.
On January 29, 2010, Jon died suddenly in an accident at work. I sat in the machine shop office, wrapped in the black jacket Jon had worn to work that day, in shock. Between dazed conversations with policemen, coroners, and city workers, I called David. I needed the comfort of the man that my husband loved and respected deeply. I needed David to hear the news from me first. There was a comfort in the silence that followed my delivery of such shocking news.
Over the next few months, David continued to provide his undying love and support. Something I would have the bittersweet honor of returning following his difficult divorce. When tragedy strikes, you find out which of your friends are the lifelong type. I am fortunate to have several.
Two years ago today I set out to have a fabulous Valentine’s Day filled with flowers, chocolates, pampering, and getting all gussied up to go out on a hot date with…Myself. It was my third Valentine’s Day alone, and I was on a quest to embrace my new life as a single lady. I have done many things over the last four years to sort of throw myself into recovery and show myself that I would in fact be okay alone. Valentine’s Day 2012 was one such event. Little did I know how that fabulous day of femininity and self empowerment would mark the beginning of a new adventure.
I was pacing around my living room in sparkly black heels and a red dress. My purse in hand, I was pumping myself up to attend a Valentine’s Day dinner for single people at a local church. There was a knock on my door. David was standing in my doorway dressed in a grey suit with a loaded question, “Will you have dinner with me tonight?”
We went to my favorite restaurant down by the beach. We enjoyed dinner and drinks and talking. Then a walk along the sandy shore. As a thank you for the nice evening out I wanted to bake something for David. I knew his favorite desserts were of the apple variety, but what I had on hand were frozen blueberries. So I baked him a blueberry pie. In a cake pan because I didn’t even have a pie plate. He and I ate the entire pie over the course of about three days. He now says that blueberry pie is his favorite dessert. Valentine’s Day was the beginning of David entering my life as a new man. In a new role. Something I wouldn’t fully realize for over a year.
He sat by my side with his arm around me as I cried over my late husband. He listened to stories of our life together. He has heard my fears. Watched as they’ve crippled me. Picked me up and helped me put myself back together. As if twelve years of friendship, love and support weren’t enough. Or countless hours of caring for a grieving widow. It took one final event to send me falling head over heals. We traveled to Japan together and that was it. His sense of adventure struck a chord inside me. This is a man I would like to go on adventures with. Share life with. So I did the scariest thing I could do. I moved in with him. It hasn’t been very long, but it’s been great.
What lies ahead terrifies me. Starting my life with someone new. What if it all falls apart like it did before? David and I have spent time learning about ourselves, and learning about each other. We have peeled back the layers to meet the real person beneath, and we’re both still sticking around. Life is terrifying. The fear of death is terrifying. But sharing life with another person, a person who really knows me, that it is exhilarating (and also terrifying).
On the days they’re with us, our couch cuddles are extended by two extra bodies; his two sweet daughters. They bring a life and light to our home that doesn’t exist without them. I never would have imagined my life the way it is now, but I’m soaking it all in and praying that it lasts. I know better than most how short life can be, and what can be taken away in the blink of an eye.
Tonight, after David sings Abigail and Katherine to sleep, we’ll dig into this pie together, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Then we’ll cuddle on the couch with our dog and two cats. He’ll pop my toes. It will be the best Valentine’s Day I’ve had in years.