Late 1993. I had passed the Kennedy boy’s mom in the church hallway on Sunday. Whenever I ran into her I would always ask how he was doing, what he was up to, stuff like that. I knew he had gotten married while in the Air Force, to a girl he had dated his senior year and that they lived here in town, but I never ran into him. I myself had married a year after graduating high school at the young age of 19 to someone I fell in love while I was finishing high school. He was three years older than me and literally swept me off my feet, lifted me up to his shoulders, slipped on the rain slicked ground and dropped me on my head. I should have known that was a warning!
When I ran into the Kennedy boy’s mom that Sunday I had been officially separated, with divorce papers filed, going on 6 months. My heart had been completely broken after almost 3 years of marriage. Trampled on and thrown into the garbage by the man that was supposed to love me more than anyone or anything. Some argued I had been too young to marry, but I knew it was all I ever wanted and I was not the one who had not been ready to settle down. We had no children luckily and the last year of our marriage was very painful and could seriously be told on Ellen or written into a book and would sell millions. But for my safety and for the love and respect I have for his family, I very rarely share openly all that happened. I will say that the day I walked into my home to collect my things, he unaware of me coming with my parents, I did send him out of the house in his boxers with only glasses on, with two girls in very skimpy pjs and did not allow him any more clothing. They got into one of the girl’s cars and drove off. I still don’t know where they went or how they mustered enough courage to show up on someone’s door step dressed like that to hang out for the day, but it did bring some satisfaction. I might have even laughed about it that day if he hadn’t just answered my question of “do you even still love me?” with a “nope, I haven’t in awhile.”
I mourned the loss of my marriage, the loss of my future I had dreamt of and the loss of his amazing family. But I also had hope of falling in love again, the next time with someone that loved me back as much as I loved him. And six months later, I was well on my way to healing although found myself in a very lonely world as a divorced 23 year old surrounded by young married couples with children.
In the hallway while passing the Kennedy boy’s mom that Sunday I quickly asked, “How’s David?” What she said stopped me dead in my tracks. “Not well, he is getting a divorce and living in our home right now.” In short his story goes like this. He had been married about a year when he had to leave for Iraq while serving in the Air Force. He came home six months later to find out another guy had been living in his house, wearing his clothes, doing his wife and worse of all driving his truck. He was devastated and heartbroken. And just returning from the end of the Gulf War was looking forward to companionship and love.
When I heard this I immediately wanted to be there for him. I hadn’t had anyone my age that had experienced divorce and the pain associated with it not being your choice AT ALL. I felt drawn to call him even though we didn’t leave high school as close friends. By our senior year the cheerleaders and the punk skateboarders/surfers didn’t associate much. It wasn’t cool for him to hang out with a cheerleader and as a cheerleader I was way too hyper and overactive for the laid back surfer. We really hadn’t seen each other in a few years so the phone call was going to be awkward. But I couldn’t get it out of my head.
I called him a few days later and left a message. One month later I came home to my studio apartment to find a message on my answering machine. It was the Kennedy boy! I listened to it a few times to make sure it was really him and not another Dave, but it was him and I called him back. We talked a little about what we were doing and where we were living and what items we took or in my case didn’t take when we left our marriages and then the phone call ended with a good-bye and let’s chat again some time soon.
The very next Sunday I had been kneeling and saying my prayers that morning. An impression kept coming to my head that was strong and it involved being there for someone that day. I got to church and saw my friend Becky and thought…hmmm I wonder if she needs to “talk” today. Nope nothing. I came home from church and took a nap. Went to my parents’ for dinner and no one needed to talk there either. I came home later that night and thought again about my impression. Hmmm…I thought. It was too strong to deny, but nothing played out. It was a work night but I wasn’t sleepy. I had napped most of the afternoon. At about 9:00 pm my phone rang and the Kennedy boy was on the other end. He needed someone to talk to and wanted to know if he could stop by, even though it was late. We talked until 1:00 am.
That was the first night of many spent sitting on my day bed, me on one end and him on the other talking about our dreams that were shattered and our hopes of what our marriages would have been like. We had both wanted our spouses to be our very best friends. We had wanted complete fidelity and love in return of ours offered. We slept that way many nights there on my little day bed. The comfort of having someone in the room was nice….although not necessarily appropriate…but we weren’t dating. We were friends. Good friends. And hanging out together was comforting.
We called each other whenever we were driving around aimlessly needing a place to hang out. Needing someone to help ease the pain and anger. We started healing each other through our friendship.
A trip to Tahoe planned with friends in late November changed everything for us. Our friends all cancelled last minute because of a snow storm coming, but we decided to go at it alone. We had been so excited to get out of town where our ex’s still resided and pranced around with their new loves. We were going to Tahoe to eat, dance and gamble a bit and hang out…and even without our group of friends going, we knew we could have fun together.
It was while we were sitting at a slot machine that Dave looked at me with a little pain in his face and I took his face in my hands and said, “We can do this” and then leaned in and kissed him. Oops. Did I just do that? Oh no. We were only friends and I just kissed him. What was that going to do to our friendship status? But it was nice…like I remembered my first kiss being. But how was he going to react to that? He did kiss me back and then grabbed my hand and we headed through the casino holding hands for the first time as we headed to the dance club. We danced and kissed a little more. And went back to the condo we were sharing, which while we were only friends wasn’t a big deal, but all of a sudden felt a little wrong. We made out a little bit that night and then went to bed.
The next morning we both woke up and were quiet. We packed up and drove home not knowing what to say to each other. We small talked a bit on our 3 hour drive back home, but pretty much just claimed we were tired. Dave dropped me off at my studio and gave me a peck on the lips and tight hug and said goodbye. I was so mad at myself. I didn’t want our friendship to be awkward. I needed that Kennedy boy more than he knew.
…..to be continued