The reason John chose to ask me to marry him on February 13, 2013, was because it was February 13, 2012, when he told me he could never see us getting together. Ever.
Guest post: John P. Gavin – The Real Trouble with Valentine’s Day
(This was the first column in a long time I didn’t send to Loretta to proofread before sending it to my editor, and that felt weird. I didn’t send it because she broke up with me the day before, albeit with good reason. But I didn’t want to see that yet. So I was annoyed – and a little shook up – and very cranky. Let’s see if any of that comes across in the column).
The weeks after my accident were, in a strange way, some of the best in my life. I know that sounds odd, but you need to remember my past experiences of being taken care of were not such stellar memories.
I’ve never had anyone dote on me like John did during those weeks of recovery. He wrote down all medications and times I’d taken what and made sure I was taking a probiotic to offset the antibiotic prescribed by my doctor.
He drove me to doctor visits and physical therapy and he even helped me with my hair. I could hardly go to the bathroom without him wanting to assist me. I felt completely spoiled and cared for by the man I loved, and it was the first time in my life I’d experienced that.
As I stood on the deck holding my left hand, I could feel the void and knew what had happened. I also knew I couldn’t look at it. I just stood there trying to breathe through the burning pain I felt in my left thumb.
With my eyes squeezed shut, I kept saying out loud, “It burns! It burns”! Within seconds John was at my side talking to me and leading me into the house.
Grabbing a towel from the kitchen, he told me to turn away so he could see the extent of the injury. Talking in quiet, hushed tones, he assured me everything would be okay; but I had a hard time believing him in that moment.
John wrapped my hand with the towel and put an ice pack on it and told me he’d be right back. What was probably just a few minutes felt like an eternity; so I called out to John asking where he was. He came back into the house and said, “Looking for your thumb, honey.”
When John and I got the news his sentence would be community service, we were overjoyed. Over the coming months, we worked side by side at the Boys & Girls Club repainting interiors, working with the kids and helping out with special money raising events.
I had been a volunteer for the Boys & Girls Club before, and it was a natural fit to pick that charity to help. John was in his element as a natural Mr. Fix-it and was happy to help out an organization in need.
I was delighted to be featured on Heike Yates – Pursue Your Spark podcast last week. I met Heike over a year ago through Facebook and enjoy her energy and enthusiasm for life.
She brings a positive spirit to everything she does and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with her. Her goal is to help women in midlife live a healthy lifestyle by developing simple, balanced nutrition, fitness and lifestyle programs.
She has developed a reputation for creating real-life solutions and lasting results. My interview with her was fun and enlightening. Heike’s spark shows in everything she does.
As the autumn breeze cooled the air, my heart filled with warmth when John uttered those three words he had said to me months earlier. Not only had he said, “I love you,” but I also knew he meant it. Perhaps it was the fear of his uncertain future, but in that moment I didn’t care.
A month later we were sitting together on a bench outside Courtroom A waiting for John’s trial to begin, neither of us wanting to show the anxiety we both felt. I could sense John’s fidgeting before he stood up and announced he needed to use the bathroom.
I watched him walk away and noticed his usual swagger was absent. From the moment I met John, he had an air of confidence that I knew didn’t always match what he was feeling inside. That day he couldn’t mask the anxiety he was feeling, and I noticed his shoulders weren’t as square as usual.
I was deeply honored to be featured on Catherine GraceO’s Forever Fierce podcast. She is a wonderful host that put me at ease and coaxed my story and thoughts out effortlessly.
Here’s what she had to say about the show:
“Loretta’s story will inspire you to look at vulnerability in a whole new way. Join Catherine and Loretta’s Count Down to 60 in a powerful and intimate conversation that will shift the way you think about the process of aging. On todays show you will learn:
▪️How to use the power of vulnerability to change your life.
▪️Why what you are most afraid to reveal is where your power lies.
▪️How vulnerability impacts every relationship in your life.
A few days after breaking up with John he called to see how I was doing. I think he was surprised to hear I was fine. I was sad our romantic relationship had ended, but we had grown a strong friendship over the past year that neither of us could easily give up.
I told John I had some things of his and asked if he’d like to meet for coffee.
Starbucks seemed an appropriate place to meet up since that was where the seeds of our friendship had first sprouted. It would be good to see him and to return his personal things.
The summer of 2012 was filled with so many highs and lows I honestly don’t even like recalling it, and the ratio of highs to lows was unbalanced in the wrong direction. John and I not only had to deal with the snail’s pace of the legal system, but also the uncertainty of love.
John had told me he loved me one night back in April, but
after the accident failed to remember he’d said it or that he even felt it. He
spent the entire summer wondering if he’d let ‘the right one’ get away.
I promised myself I’d spend January researching how to write a book; so I sat down with Stephen King and gleaned some valuable information, “On Writing.”
I learned a few rules from JK Rowling too including, “Be ruthless about protecting writing days…” And this rule that actually made me feel better about going for it, “Failure is inevitable – make it a strength…”
Somewhere I read the best thing to do is to write how you talk, which is easy for me since that’s exactly how I write. I love Seth Godin’s quote, “No one ever gets talker’s block.”
I never dreamed I’d need to know anything about how bail works or the process of navigating the legal system to get a loved one out of jail. But as soon as John was taken into custody, I knew I was about to learn. So I stood up on shaky legs and left the courthouse to call the number I’d been handed by the bail bondsman.
The young woman on the phone said she would meet me outside
the courthouse and asked if I had my checkbook with me.
Sitting outside in the sunshine at a picnic table, I couldn’t help thinking about the stark difference of that beautiful warm summer day and the cold reality of John behind bars.
I don’t recall why we made the decision for John to come stay with me after being released from the hospital. But there he was, stitched up swollen lips and broken teeth sitting on my deck drinking coffee from a straw.
He had doctor’s orders not to drive because they were still
trying to figure out the extent of his brain injury. So there I was waiting on him and nursing him back to health.
The guy who forgot he’d said, “I love you Loretta” to me the
night before the accident.
The one who was facing a felony charge for running from the
cops, and the man who now looked more like Sloth from Goonies than Michael
The first thing I did was to implement a schedule for myself. Yeah I know, sometimes I can be a slow learner.
I wanted to be sure to allow time for exercise and social media but also to have time to actually write.
It seemed I was always trying to find occasions to write and I realized time wasn’t going to jump out of a cake and yell, “Surprise!” I was going to have to carve out moments each day if I wanted to get words on paper.