There’s a reason why we went backwards chronologically.
At the end of this one, hopefully you’ll understand.
This story is a bit convoluted in several ways. And it might have been the biggest mistake of my life. I’m going to try to tell it accurately, but it’s been a while. Please bear with me.
My marriage ended in June of 2013. It should have ended long before then but my ex had a lot of health issues. So for reasons pertaining to her healthcare, and because I had taken vows and unlike some folks I stuck to them, I stayed in a loveless marriage. Which is an understatement. “Loveless”, that is. If you think the female in the relationship can’t be abusive, then think again.
After my divorce went final in June of ’13, I still stuck by her. I made sure her medical needs were taken care of. And I spent months working with healthcare workers in two different states to get her transferred to a facility near her family on the east coast. We were in Arizona at the time.
Her medical issues were many and varied. But at that point, the biggest was a brain injury. In May of 2010 she had a seizure in her sleep. Her thrashing during this seizure woke me up and I saw she wasn’t breathing and was more or less turning blue. I dragged her off the bed and onto the floor and began performing CPR. While simultaneously trying to get the phone off the night table and dial 911. Both of which I ended up doing successfully, even at 5am. I was pretty good back then.
EMS arrived about 15 minutes later. Have you ever done CPR for 15 minutes? It’s not easy.
And then ironically, I was briefly investigated for attempted murder. Talk about a figurative slap in the face? But it was fun kicking the cops out of my house who were tossing it with no warrant and no probable cause.
Though that’s a story for another time.
No one expected her to live. She was in a coma in ICU for about a month. And then to everyone’s surprise, she woke up. But the brain damage was irreparable. And amazingly, she was now even more hateful. Loss of inhibitions from the brain thing, I guess.
But I stuck by her. Made sure she was taken care of. Even personally, physically, took care of her for a long time. You haven’t lived until you’ve been berated and cussed out while changing your spouse’s adult diaper. Yeeeesh.
But eventually the stress of it all started to take me down. My health started to decline. We won’t go into those details, but I knew if I didn’t make a change it was going to kill me. I didn’t want to be killed. So I divorced her and moved into a tiny little apartment but still made sure she was cared for and oversaw all of her stuff. Her patient advocate I guess you’d say.
But that’s not the point of this story. Lindsay is the point of this story.
The One I Pushed Away
After my divorce went final and I was living alone in my little apartment, my father’s Parkinson’s worsened. I knew I had to get back from Arizona to North Carolina to help my mother take care of him in his decline. I knew time was limited. I also had to get the ex-wife moved back to the east coast to her family, which was WAY more complicated than it sounds. And then I had to move my ass back to North Carolina and take care of things here. It was a very complicated time in my life.
But during this time, I dealt with the stress by exercising.
I biked. I hiked. I swam. Anything to get out of the stress.
Balls: Masturbated furiously?
Otherwise, no comment.
Anyway, I was in good shape. I’m not anymore, but I was then.
I was biking one day. I had my iPod and my earbuds in with music blasting. I was almost home from my ride. And I heard someone shout at me. It’s frankly amazing I heard it. But I turned to look and saw a girl off to the side of the bike path. She had wrecked her bike and was crying. And was asking me for help. And boy oh boy did she need some.
Fortunately, she only had some minor stuff. No serious injuries. But her bike was fucked. The front rim was bent at about a 10 degree angle. Doesn’t sound like much, but on a bike, it’s a shitload. No way in hell she’s riding that home.
So I circled back, made sure she was OK and told her I can fix her bike. But it’s gonna take a few hours.
And off we went. We were about a half mile away from my shitty little apartment, give or take. I carried her bike, she walked mine. And honestly, we didn’t talk much at that point. She was still upset, of course. And I was out breath from carrying a bike. LOL. But after we get back to my place, I get her some water, and spend a few hours fixing her bike. We talked. I thought she was funny and liked her a great deal.
But here’s the thing…
This girl was 20 years younger than me. At that time I had never dated anyone that much younger than myself. So I had no illusions. I wasn’t helping this girl to try to…. well ya know. I was just trying to help someone in need. Honestly.
When her bike was fixed, and her wounds were cleaned, I loaded the bike and her into my Pathfinder (this was pre-Dave) and I took her home. Never expecting to ever see her again.
Balls: What was the Pathfinder’s name? Dave The First? Henrietta? Tom?
tWBS: OK first of all, Henrietta cracks me up. Because my late father once had a VW Bug he named Henrietta. Honestly, no shit. Are you some kind of weird psychic?
But my Pathfinder was named “Clint”. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea.
Hell man, I just named my new squirrel “Julius” just because it happened to pop into my head. There is no rhyme or reason.
Let’s get back to Lindsay.
The Next Morning
Right around sunrise, the morning after fixing her bike and getting her home, I was up and preparing to head out for my morning ride. I got my bike and opened the front door.
And she’s standing there on her bike, grinning like an idiot. My heart sank, but in a good way.
We rode around all that morning. Just having fun. It was comfortable. Lindsay became a bright light in a time which was otherwise a very dark time in my life.
I asked her to come back that night for dinner. She said yes. I cooked chicken parm. She ate like a champ.
And for the next 6-7 months we were inseparable. More or less. We biked. We hiked. We swam. We cooked (well I cooked). We watched football. We danced.
Balls: We had sex?
tWBS: Quite a lot of it, truth be told.
We were compatible in just about every way if I’m being honest. It came easy. No pun intended.
But I had a lot on my plate. Dying ex-wife. Dying father. It was all weighing heavy on me. I guess what I’m saying is I wasn’t emotionally available. Not as I should have been. Or wish I had been. Or as much as she deserved.
Then one day, the approval to get my ex-wife moved back to the east coast with her family finally came through. A spot in a skilled nursing facility in their town had opened up. So I got her ready and put her on a plane and that was done. Now it’s time for me to get home and deal with my own situation.
This Is Where I Fucked This One Up
I had to come home. There was no choice. My mother still to this day tells me she wishes I’d stayed out west. For my own best interests. But she knows better. Had I not come home, she’d be dead right now. At least twice, I had to pull my father off of her as his dementia got worse and he had his hands around her neck. He tried to kill me once too. And yes, there is a reason I’m telling you this.
When it came down to just a couple of weeks before it was time for me to leave Arizona and head back to North Carolina, Lindsay asked if she could please come with me. And I thought on that for several days. It wasn’t a simple decision. But I made the wrong one.
My reasoning was….
- She’s 20 years younger and has never been out of Arizona where all of her family and friends are.
- I’d be walking her into my own personal hell.
- My father will not react well to a new person suddenly entering the house. Hell, he didn’t react well to me coming back.
- And…..biggest of all….I don’t know if I truly love her. And it would kill me to have to tell her that later.
I told her no, you can’t come with me.
To this day, when I told her no, the look on her face still haunts me. I ripped her figurative heart out. I was trying to do the right thing. But she hates me now. I saw her one last time before leaving Arizona, but it did not go well.
Simply stated…..I should have said yes.
If things hadn’t worked out, a plane ticket back to Arizona is relatively cheap.
It’s the chances you don’t take that haunt you. Trust me. It maybe could have worked out. And if it didn’t we’d fix it, one way or another.
But now, I will never know. I will NEVER know.
And that fucking sucks.
Balls: It’s true that the things you regret are what you didn’t do, not what you did. However, I think a bigger sin is to rehash the past and beat yourself up over it. What’s done is done and you can’t do anything about it except learn lessons and try not to repeat mistakes. Hopefully everyone reading is learning lessons the easy way instead of the hard way like tWBS…
tWBS: FWIW, I’m not beating myself up. I think in the moment, I made the best decision I could given the information and emotional situation. The best one for both she and I. But sometimes you gain a bit more perspective and realize, maybe the other decision could have worked out. Oh well, shit happens.