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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bookends (01/30/14)

TITLE: A Love Story – Rewritten (non-fiction)
By Judith Gayle Smith


Stumbling from my darkness – limping to Your Light.

Life is a confusing gift offered – a period of existence laden with oft-times ivy covered pitfalls, and no guarantee of a happy ending. Rough, stuttering beginnings, insufferably episodic, were staggeringly defined by contorted growth spurts.

And then I made the impossible leap – I fell blindly, hopelessly in love with a tragic wraith of a man incapable of loving me back physically, emotionally and spiritually. Surprisingly, we connected mentally, but not strongly enough to hold us together.

He was tall, blond, handsomely bronzed, with melting pain-sodden blue eyes. His slumped shoulders bespoke years of loneliness, self-imposed, sadly, rigidly maintained. He endured living with his mother – her choice, not his. Dark, dusty life illumed with the bubbling lava lamp naivety of me attempting to alleviate their shadows.

Weep with me. I am a twice-married, grieving widow, albeit happily wed to my second husband – my very own angel for almost forty years. But I was married once before and we, Jim and I, created and endured such appalling misery, it still smothers and engulfs me. We dated four months during four years of “courting”, climaxing to five years of an unconsummated marriage.

Through an exploratory internet search I discovered my first husband died in February, 2006. He was reclusive, closed in by choice. He died wretchedly alone, with no family or friends to mourn him. I mourn him. I mourn what could have, should have been a wondrous, grace-filled and blessed togetherness bathed in God’s perfect Will for our lives. Yeah, right.

I was young and selfish, expecting to fulfill all his broken dreams, and, of course, expecting him to return the favor. Jim suffered from depression. I was taking him to North Hollywood every Friday – for electro-shock therapy. Jim needed, and I desperately needed to be needed. One psychiatrist termed our sad marriage a “pathological/symbiotic relationship. Fancy terminology for Jim needed a mother, and I needed to have someone to care for.

Match made in heaven? We were foolish, brave and so terribly young and inexperienced. The Book of Jim was a closed book, but I thought I could reopen it and keep it from the tragedy of being the end of his book.

I loved him – I thought, quite madly, but not enough to stretch beyond my needs. I confidently, nay smugly assuming I was so good at helping others find God’s way, torpedoed, overshot from His straight path.

I knew Jim had painful, unresolved doubts about God. He was book-brilliant, gifted with an IQ of 183, a Professor of Comparative Literature when we first met at church. He was the vice-president of the Young Adults Group. He was fighting hideous mental and spiritual dragons. I was ridiculously overconfident that my great love would conquer them all. They turned to attack me.

An only child, his bickering parents lived continents apart, separated by venomous mutual hostility. If they dreamed of grandchildren it would only remain just that – a dream. Jim vowed to not permit their influences to indelibly mark his children as they had him.

His father read him pornography for bedtime stories. Jim was totally unable to achieve physical pleasure, totally disinterested in lovemaking when we met. I, being the narcissistic dolt – believed my love would restore him to, what? Life? I was such an idiot . . .

The books of his parents were bitterly sealed, ended and marked with his agonizing struggles to love and understand them. Is that why I am so reluctant to close this chapter? Can’t I just accept the realization that I am not Jim’s Holy Spirit, born to restore his faith, his mental and emotional stability? My own was questionable.

In the midst of my musings, my present husband just derailed my erratic train of thought. He wants me to write a novel. I said I was continuing my series on my failed first marriage.

My darkly handsome Mike then lovingly advised me to write a thrilling love story – about us.

Wow. With that, I just might just end my book on Jim and me; releasing the guilty pain occluding my present marriage. Married to Mike for forty adventurous and blessed years, I must agree that as our still new love in and through and because of the Christ continues to unfold, why waste my time on self-flagellation, bemoaning Christ-less years of misery?

I have much better things to write about.

"Tiny nibbling kisses transforming my countenance . . ."

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This article has been read 151 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Danielle King 02/08/14
The thing I love most about this, and all your work, is your honesty. You tell it like it is, or was, and it makes for compelling reading. Another thing is the words you use, and the way you use them to form such vivid mental pictures. There's nothing dull about your life, that's for sure. I can see where the topic lies, though it's not obvious and could easily be missed. Still, I enjoyed reading a little bit more about you. Great stuff!
Brenda Rice 02/08/14
Incredible writing in every good way. I recognized the use of the topic.

Thanks for sharing.
lynn gipson 02/08/14
I married an abused child-man, thinking my love would be enough. It wasn't. I understood this story completely. Terrific job and great writing here, as always.
Toni Hammer 02/08/14
Compelling and wrought with honestly. I wish I didn't identify with it as much as I do.
Ellen Carr 02/10/14
You've told a very moving, and I think true, tale about a part of your life. Thanks for sharing it and telling it so well.
Colin Swann02/10/14
I love your writing; it's so vivid, deep and meaningful. You are an artist with the pen.
Yannick Ford02/10/14
The sentence "I confidently, nay smugly assuming I was so good at helping others find God’s way, torpedoed, overshot from His straight path" is very powerful. In a totally different situation, I also have confidently and smugly assumed I could help someone only to find I could not! I'm glad I read your story.
Linda Goergen02/11/14
What a captivating read and I am so glad the story turned from a tragedy to a love story. Your wise husband Mike, has it right—a short time of misery should never overshadow years of happiness and true love. Great read!