Tomorrow she will move to her new apartment, and I will be left alone in our house. Last night she spent the majority of the evening away at her new apartment setting things up and as I sat in the living room I was overcome by the silence of the house. We dropped the dog off at her mother’s house where she will likely stay in foster care (the best option for her happiness) until my wife is able to afford an apartment where she can have the dog again; so, without my wife around and without the dog to make noise, the house was eerily quiet.
I won’t lie, the silence got to me quite a bit. I started to have a panic attack, which is a new development in my life over the last couple weeks (Never had them before, and good god they are terrible). I was so overwhelmed with fear and sadness that I could hardly function or breathe. It felt as though the entire house was crashing down on top of me, burying me under its weight. That whispering voice urged us to take matters into our own hands, but we fought that voice. Instead of simply tolerating it we stood our ground and told ourselves that we’d be able to do this, that we could survive this, that death wasn’t even an option.
Eventually the panic subsided and reality seemed to set in again. The silence was new, and would definitely take some getting used to, but it wasn’t all that bad. If nothing else, it was peaceful. Cold and bitter, but still peaceful, and definitely not permanent. Just because she is leaving and I will be left alone in that house, doesn’t mean it will always be so silent. I will fill it with the love and laughter of friends, and maybe even one day another romantic interest. Even if it was nearly unbearable right then that didn’t mean it would always be that way.
Still, the sadness is with me today. This melancholy that blooms in the midnight hour of my life thus far has taken hold of my heart and mind, and will not let me free of its grasp. Its icy tendrils dig into me and steal away my warmth. The fog from my breath in its frigid presence clouds my vision and makes it impossible to see where I’m going. All I can do is allow it to take hold of me and accept it for what it is. I must let go and hope that it will not be forever.
Regardless of the sadness, I’ve vowed today to write the entry I intended to write yesterday. Today I’m going to write a thank you/love letter to my wife, because I know that appreciation is the fastest way back to alignment and healing. So, here it goes.
My dearest Sarah,
Oh, how the last seven years have flown by. We have shared so much together, been so many places together, fought so many times and made up just as many. We have loved one another, we have hated one another, we have supported one another, and we have failed one another. Despite the downs, the ups made all of it worth it. Despite this anguish I feel now I wouldn’t trade it in if it meant I hadn’t gotten to spend these last 7 years with you in my life.
You saved me, all those years ago, from myself and from the destructive path I was on. You took my broken and bruised heart and you held it close to your own until it mended and remembered that love was still possible. You reminded me that my life wasn’t over and that there was so much happiness left for me to experience.
I am sad that you cannot continue to share that happiness with me as we have over the years, but I am thankful for the happiness we did share. In so many ways you were the very foundation upon which I built this person I’ve become. Without you, none of this would have been possible. Without your love and kindness and support I wouldn’t be where I am today, living as my true self. We are Emma because we had you to protect us from the cruelty of the world.
When I told you that I wanted to transition your immediate response was a resounding yes, even if you wavered later on. Despite what it would mean for you and for us, you put all of that aside and gave me the permission I needed to open this door once and for all. You stood by my side as I started to peel back the layers of the person I had pretended to be and each time I got closer and closer to the core of who I was, you were there to smile at me with so much love and admiration. You cannot know how much that meant to me, to us, to have your love and support through those early days, and even in recent months as we struggled to find greater meaning for our life.
The wounded and betrayed part of me is very angry with you, but it is only a small part of my feelings towards you. The rest of me is so very grateful for our life together, for the time we got to spend together growing and becoming the people we are today.
I remember the day I knew you were the one. In high school, when we spent that day together before you moved, I knew there was something about you and I knew that I loved you. Perhaps I didn’t know then that we’d find one another again 5 years later and marry, but I knew I loved you, regardless if it seemed like madness. We hardly knew one another and our past was brief if nothing else, but I think the larger part of me, that twin soul that animates this body knew that our paths were destined to be intertwined.
How many times did we talk to each other over the years when we were in college? I remember carrying on such long and amazing conversations with you. I remember you telling me about your dad, and your little brother calling you Sassa, and your lemon of a car and how you were a supervisor at a coffee shop. I remember thinking again that I loved you, but that the time wasn’t right. You were so far away and there was no feasible way for us to be together in a substantial way.
I remember being in the worst parts of my relationship with that crazy person who we will call “J”, when we spoke again. You were planning to come out to Colorado on a road trip and you wanted to see me. My heart leapt in my chest at the thought of finally getting to see you again, but there were so many complications. You were still with “F” and I was still with “J”, so it felt like it wasn’t the right time. I remember telling “J” about you coming and she knew right away I had feelings for you, which of course meant that she flipped out and told me I couldn’t go see you alone. Because of that, we missed our chance to meet up once again. I lamented that it seemed like we were destined to never really connect again.
A few months later, my relationship with “J” finally and thankfully came to an end, but I found myself struggling through the chaos of a rebound relationship; one that should have never happened at all, really. I remember it falling apart and me falling apart with it. I sat in the shower one night and cried for the better part of an hour. I felt so lost and like I’d never find love. Two really bad relationships in a row left me feeling pretty hopeless, but despite that hopelessness I offered a prayer or wish to the gods that they’d bring me someone who would love me as much if not more than I loved them. I wished that they would be kind, pretty, emotional in a good way, fun, sexy, and a Pisces. I wanted a Pisces to swim around with in the waters of life.
I swear to you, within a few days I stumbled across your profile on Facebook and that was when I knew you were the woman I’d marry. You were out of your relationship with “F” and everything about you screamed that you were the one for me. I looked at your pictures obsessively, knowing that I wanted and needed you in my life. There was one picture in particular that captured my heart; you know the one. Why this one, I don't know, but it was the picture that did it.
I think I sent you a message and told you to call me sometime if you wanted to. I think you may have even called me that very same day, although my memory fails me a bit on this. From then on we spent so many hours on the phone with each other. I couldn’t wait to talk to you as I went through the day. You were the highlight of my life, and you were so amazing. It was so fun, and interesting, and soothing to be in contact with you. You made me feel alive again after months of feeling like I was dead and broken. I think I helped you feel alive again too. You were still living with “F” and it was a miserable situation but I think I helped you escape from that. It might have even been like it is now with you and I (and him helping you escape?), although I’d like to think I make better company than "F" did.
Regardless, You decided to come out to see me, and although I was scared of how that would go, it was so exciting. Those few days we spent together are perhaps my fondest memories of our time together. You were perfect, in every way. We were perfect in every way. The stars had finally aligned it was all worth the wait.
I remember how heartbroken I was when I took you back to the airport, and I remember you had already figured out the number of days until we would see one another again. I remember that we kept counting down and nearly every night we talked you reminded me how many days were left. Two and a half months never felt so long.
When I did finally come out to see you, it was amazing again. Sure, there was that whole Mormon thing going on, but in many ways it did not detract from our time together because we were both so happy to be together. I remember feeling the cold of a Minnesota winter for the first time as we walked down to the Kowalski’s to get groceries. I knew then that we’d spend our lives going to get groceries together (and I was right, because Jesus we went grocery shopping a lot over the years) and that we’d be married.
I remember the pictures we took on your couch and the love we felt as we were totally silly with each other. It was like we were in our own little world and nothing else mattered except for our time together:
Leaving you to go back to Colorado was heartbreaking. I wanted nothing more than for us to live together there, to begin our life together. You knew as well as I did that this was the relationship that would last, that this was the one that would result in marriage instead of an early breakup.
We spent months talking, biding our time until we could be together again, until we could live together. We made plans for me to move to MN to be with you and saw one another a few more times before I moved. Again we took those ridiculous pictures so we’d have something to remember each other by during the lonely nights apart:
Once I moved, and we were living together, it felt like we’d always lived together. It felt natural and right, even if we bickered over the dishes and other things that new roommates always bicker over.
For my birthday we adopted our baby kitty Athena, and she would be the first of our fur-babies together:
The years went by as you went to grad school and I worked awful jobs. We struggled our way through financially but we always had one another. We fat-kidded out entirely too many times in order to deal with the stress, true, but there was still so much love and friendship.
Then, after making you wait a few months after I got your wedding ring, I decided that I wanted to take the plunge. I wanted to marry you and commit to being with you forever. Things weren’t perfect, but they were still great, and too good to let go of. We went to NC to see my dad, and although you knew it was my plan and figured it out by feeling the ring box in my pocket, I decided to ask you to marry me.
I remember the awkward walk through the gardens as I searched for the right spot to ask you, and there just wasn’t one, not until we were on our way out and we found truly a perfect spot. You sat on the edge of that fountain wearing your beautiful dress, I bent down to one knee, we both cried like fools, I asked you if you would marry me and you said yes.
A happy year of love, laughter, weight loss, and wedding planning went by and on June 3, 2011, you and I stood on a beach and became man and wife. We vowed to stand by one another through the ups and downs of life until we died, and I knew that I’d made the right choice. You were my wife, and no one was better fit for the job.
Three and a half years went by, and most days were really good. There were a lot of bad ones, and plenty of fights, but we could never stay mad at each other. Maybe for an hour or two, but never really more that that. We shared our life together. We did everything together, went everywhere together, talked about everything together. We adopted our lovable, sweetheart, idiot of a dog and grew our family by one:
We had a lot of great times with her out in the snow, taking her for walks, playing the Allie game, and cleaning up entirely too much bile/excrement. We were a family. You, me, the dog, and the cat.
I decided that I wanted to pursue my dream to be a writer, and you supported me in that. you helped me brainstorm as I wrote my first novel and you spent countless hours editing my work to try to make it something people would want to read. I remember how proud we both were when we finally published it and got the hard copies in the mail.
It was exciting and could not have been done without your help. The second book was even more work and you stepped up again to help me. You were my editor, my friend, my wife, and the love of my life.
But then I started to fall apart. The books weren’t selling well, I was stuck in a career I didn’t want, and I had this growing sense inside of me that something just wasn’t right. I was married to the woman I loved more than anyone, I had a sweet puppy, a loving cat, a nice (albeit small) home, more income than ever, and some friends, yet something was missing.
I tried to bury it under a lot of things to dull the throbbing pain it created in me. I buried it under food, drugs, and sex. Food gave me temporary comfort, but left me so overweight and unappealing. The drugs only numbed the pain for a short while and became a destructive habit. I thought if our sex-life improved that I’d be happy, that it would take away this feeling I had, but it didn’t/wouldn’t.
We fought more, we were less attracted to one another, we had less sex, and the happiness we shared began to fade. I thought about leaving you. I thought about having an affair. I wanted the sex we had early on but it just wasn’t there between us, so I thought maybe another person could give it to me. I even tried at one point to make an affair happen (they wanted it to), but I just couldn’t go through with it. I felt stuck. I loved you too much to hurt you like that, but I wanted to be happy, and our happiness was fading. I decided that having you as my companion, flawed as you were and as imperfect as our relationship could be, was too good to give away on an affair. I promised I wouldn't leave you, so I decided to stay.
Shortly after that I had the dream that set the events of the last year into motion. Nothing could bury the thing I knew to be true: I wasn’t a boy and my subconscious was done allowing me to deny that. If I was ever going to be happy, I had to deal with this.
This past year has been one hell of a year, and through all of it, I felt closer to you than ever. Never has anyone shown me such unconditional love as you have over the last 13 months. True, we fought a lot and there were some really dark days between us, but you stood with be through it all. I told you that you had the golden ticket out of the marriage if you wanted it, but you refused to accept that.
You weren’t going anywhere is what you told me again and again, and although I struggled to believe you, you kept your word. You were there for me, in every way you could be. You held me when I cried after I came out to my mom and was devastated by her reaction. You took on the burden of everyone wondering if you were okay with my transition. You took on the undesired title of “lesbian” even though it didn’t fit who you were. You helped me pick out nail polish and makeup and clothes. You helped me learn how to put makeup on and how to match clothing as a girl would.
You stood by me as I went to work for the first time as Emma, and you held my hand when the TV reporter interviewed us about our marriage. You suffered all the stares in public and held my hand even though you probably didn’t want people to see us together as two women. You tried, and tried, and tried again to be there for me.
Your kindness, your compassion, your companionship, your affection, and your love made this possible for me. I will never forget that. You gave me a year after you could have walked away without anyone blaming you at all. You held my hand through the hardest parts of this transition. You worried about me and you took care of me as best as you could during the depression. You dedicated months of your life to working on our relationship, and although it didn’t work out, you didn’t just give up at the first sign of trouble. You have been, are, and hopefully will remain my best friend once all the ugliness of divorce is over and we have time to breathe/heal.
I will value the memory of our life together more than you can know. I will cherish every moment of happiness we had. You will always have a place in my heart all to your own. It is yours. I gave it to you and there are no refunds on that kind of transaction. I made a vow to love you forever, and I’m not breaking that vow. Your fate and my own are forever intertwined. I’m certain we decided that before we even came here.
We knew there was an impossibly hard path for me to walk in this life. We knew that I had to be special for myself and for so many others, and so you promised to come here with me, to help me through the dark parts so I could come out of it alive. You told me I was special and that I had to keep doing this, even when I told you I’d stop if you asked me to. You said you were afraid you weren’t special enough to be with me, to be my wife, but you were wrong. You were exactly the kind of special I needed to carry me through.
No one else would have stood by me over the last year. No other woman would have tried as hard as you did to make it work. No one would have ever shown me the love and dedication that you did. You are special, and someday, someone who sees in you what I see in you will give you the life I couldn’t. You will find someone who is worthy of all that you have to give, and they will be the luckiest goddamn person on the planet for it. Don’t sell yourself short and don’t believe that you have failed me, or the dog, or our life. You have not failed anyone, my darling wife. You have given more than can be measured or described, and likely more than I deserved, honestly. You loved a wretch like me and helped me turn into something beautiful and meaningful.
I know everything will be different after tomorrow. I know a lot will and must change between us, but I truly believe that we can find a way through this and come out friends on the other side. It will take time and it won’t be easy, but our bond is too strong for that. We can never stay mad at one another, you know that as well as I do.
A thousand miles, so many missed opportunities, and years on end separated us and yet, we still found each other. We are soul mates, Sarah. Maybe not lovers anymore, but we came to this life together for a reason. Our paths intertwined again and again for a reason. I do not for one second believe that our story together is over. Maybe our marriage is at an end and our love will change to something else, but our friendship, in my eyes, is not nor will ever be over. Not until one of us kicks the bucket at least.
You made a vow to love Robert and be with him until death. Tomorrow, when all is said and done, Robert’s final act will be to wish you, the woman he loved so deeply, goodbye. When this marriage ends officially, the last piece of Robert’s life will end with it, and so, he will finally be laid to rest. Although the actions of the last few weeks have been catastrophic to both Emma and Robert, we will hold your wedding vow to Robert fulfilled because you loved him and stayed with him until the very end.
He loves you as his wife, and I, Emma, love you as a dear companion and friend. We are both so grateful for our time with you, for all that you’ve given and done, and for trying so hard to overcome impossible odds. Thank you, Sarah. Thank you for everything. Thank you for our life together. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your friendship, and thank you for helping us learn to fly on our own. We are forever in your debt.
With so much love and admiration,
-Robert & Emma