Right before going to bed, I noticed that my laptop was still on and wanted to shut it down before turning in for the night. I noticed there was an active IM window open, and it was full of messages. Messages from my high school boyfriend.
Very sadly, he was letting me know that his father passed away late last week, when the service is and that he had a message for me from his dad. He wanted me to know that I was a special part of his life and he wanted to make sure even though I had not been in contact with the family for many years.
James and I were not what I hope to be the classic high school couple. He was already out of school, and I was turning from a great student to a just making it by student. I started working too much, doing fewer and fewer sports and activities, and even less homework. My parents were not exactly giving up on me, but weren't really trying to keep me from getting into trouble. I don't know exactly what was going on in the grand scheme of things with my family, as I was being a teenager who was too focused on being what I thought was an adult, and trying to desperately get out of my parents home.
At one point, my father had enough of my lack of respect and kicked me out. James' family was there to take me in. I don't even think we were technically "together" at the time (I now know that our constant on again off again cycle was typical co-dependent behavior). I don't really remember everything that happened, but I know I felt safe and welcomed by James' family. When they were looking to buy a house, they started looking for 4 bedroom homes, and would let me pick out which room I liked. By this time I was back at home, but it was fun to dream.
His family was so incredibly different from mine. Yes, most men enjoy fishing and cars and all of those other manly activities, and I know my brother and father probably enjoy some of them, but I didn't really get much exposure to that at home. At James' house there was always talk of hunting and fishing, there was chewin' tobacco and cusing. More then once I came over to find a dead duck laying on the stoop, so full of shot that there was no point in plucking it. James and I would work on his various cars together, polishing, and changing out parts, and installing stereo systems, and discovering when the head gasket cracks on an old pick-up there is no point in trying to fix it. He taught me about computers inside and out, classic rock and metal bands, and introduced me to the world of D&D (don't worry, unlike some of James' friends he and I both left that world behind us).
James proposed when I was still in high school. It was romantic and a fantasy for a girl that was searching for love, acceptance, stability in a family and an escape from her current life. I don't think either of our parents thought we'd actually go through with the marriage, so they didn't really stepped in to give us their blessings or share their disappointment. I don't even recall if I even started any sort of planning. But it was fun to wear a pretty ring around school, but now I realize how much of the high school experience I missed because of it.
I grew a lot through those 5+ years when James was my world. I learned a lot about myself, and learned some hard but valuable life lessons. You never realize how much a person's part in your life has effected you until you look back.
James, your family will always hold a special place in my heart. I will always remember your father to be the one who taught me patience in the kitchen, how to cut a slit in the baloney so it doesn't curl up on you when you fry it, that Cosmic Cukes are a GREAT dill pickle and how to get the cream of wheat just right. He was a loving and caring man. He will be missed.