A Modern Love Story: Part One

A Modern Love Story: Part One

A real life romance that rivals any Nicholas Sparks' paperback.

For years he couldn’t find her because he’d been searching for Kathy with a “K” instead of with a “C.” Then, because of a spur of the moment decision to include the names of her and her siblings in a memorial for the twentieth anniversary of her brother’s death, when Dave searched for her, she appeared.

This is where their story began in the present day. Or, rather, where it picked up.

The romance between Cathy Gore and Dave Jones dates back to the winter of 1990.

Cathy was riding to Hummel Park, a scenic area at the northern outskirts of Omaha, with her older brother. They were going to meet some friends there. However, after the snow-covered trees, Dave was the first thing in sight; and he was a sight to behold. The first impression that she got of Dave was of him digging his cowboy boots into the densely packed snow and clinging on to the bumper of a beat-up Ford. Then, the car was off. Bumper skiing, it was called.

‘Wow. That guy’s really living his life,” Cathy thought to herself.

A mutual friend of her brother, Dave and Cathy began to date. She was 22; him, 25. The draw for her was his charismatic personality; for him, it was her kind and loving personality. For nine months, they were together. They would often double date with Cathy’s older brother and his girlfriend, going on drives and swimming or fishing at the sand flats. They would go on drives with the windows down, the wind blowing through their hair, young and full of dreams for the future.

One sultry day in August, Cathy and her brother drove to pick up her boyfriend. They were going to double date and enjoy nature like they always had. When they arrived, Dave was not home. A yellow note had been affixed to the front door with tape.

“It said he was going with a girl named Julie. It just broke my heart, broke my heart,” she said.

For years, they had not been in contact. Each went their separate ways, marrying, raising kids, getting divorced. Each moved on, but did not forget the other.

Until, over 25 years later, Dave found Cathy. He had been searching for her for years, wanting to get in contact with her, to apologize. He could never find her on Google. He tried calling her house multiple times, but no message ever reached Cathy. In June of 2016, he messaged her on Facebook.

“I don’t know if you remember me or not...” Dave’s message began.

“When Dave and I broke up, I was in a total quandary, an absolute tailspin,” said Cathy. “Dave Jones is the reason I questioned my path in life. So, when he messaged me on Facebook, I was absolutely dumbstruck.”

Dave’s message continued: “But, about a year ago, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Even if I never hear from you again, I’ve always hoped the best for you and I hope your life has turned out well.”

Cathy was in shock. A man from her past who was troubled deeply and struggling with a life-threatening illness had reached out to her after all this time. How could she refuse?

“Of course I remember you,” replied Cathy. “You weren’t just my brother’s friend, you broke my heart some 25 years ago. But, of course, feel free to reach out anytime.”

They exchanged contact information. Dave called Cathy that night.

“Oh, Cathy Gore,” Dave began. “I feel like every decision up to this point in my life has been a mistake.”

Dave did not have the easiest of upbringings. One day, at the age of six, while he was playing with some neighbor kids, they began to pester and tease him. They liked the girl better they said.

Kids can be so cruel.

That was how it was revealed to Dave that he was adopted. His parents had not intended on ever telling him, they wanted it to be their own little secret. When Dave confronted his parents about it, his mother told him to sit down, that she was only going to tell him this once. They had had a daughter about his age who died tragically in a sledding accident. Shortly thereafter, they adopted Dave. That secret and its realization broke Dave. Not just kids can be cruel.

“It was from that point on that Dave felt like a replacement for the child who had died,” said Cathy. “From that point on, there grew this deep-seeded desire to be loved unconditionally.”

Being viewed as a replacement child, Dave was treated as such. For years, Dave’s adoptive brother fostered a strong sense of animosity towards him. Familial niceties were rarely extended to him.

"It just broke my heart, just broke my heart."

At 18, he joined the army and left home for good. There, he felt a sense of family that his adoptive one was unable to provide.

Throughout his whole life, he searched for a sense of acceptance and unconditional love. And, for brief moments in time, he found it. For several years, he was happily married, working in the military, and helping to raise his son. He was happy.

Then, out of the blue, he arrived home from work to an empty apartment. Few possessions were left, fewer memories, and even less love. His wife had left him and taken their son. He wouldn’t see his son again for another seven years. Though only married once, the crux of the story was be repeated twice more, for a total of three abandoning lovers, three children snatched away from him, and three separate heart breaks.

The strained relationship between Dave and his family was a normalcy throughout his adult life. He rarely saw his children, and, when he did, it was evident that each of their respective mothers had planted seeds that poisoned their image of him. His adoptive family was not any better.

Several years before meeting Cathy, Dave’s father passed away. He had been a Mormon preacher, beloved by his community. Although Dave was raised to be a devout Mormon, he never felt any connection to the Mormon church. When Dave entered the church for his funeral, a pin drop could be heard. It was clear that he was unwelcome.

At the back of the church, he sat in the nearest pew. Though the building was packed, he sat entirely alone. He faced forward, everyone's backs to him. That would be the last time he would see his adoptive family.

That loneliness stuck with him until June of 2016, when he reconnected with Cathy. They began to chat almost daily, via text messages and phone calls.

“Stage 4 cancer and the guy was still working a full-time, physically demanding job,” said Cathy. “When he was originally diagnosed, he had a tumor the size of a fist in his lung. But he wasn’t giving up, not by a long shot.”

In 2004, Dave moved to a suburb of Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park, to start anew. His adoptive family had washed their hands of him and the majority of people who entered his life, including his roommates, were toxic to him.

That is until one day some 12 years later, when Cathy took it on herself to make the drive from her home in Missouri Valley, Iowa, a town not too far from Omaha, to visit Dave.

When she arrived on his doorstep, once again, Dave was a sight to behold. His carefree youthfulness had been replaced by a body rammed by a relentless disease. Dave had always been a thin guy, but now was especially so. His skin had an unhealthy pallor, his eyes sunken and melancholy.

Their first date (this time around) was a rather unconventional one. They drove to the St. Paul Cathedral, an iconic landmark that marks the skyline of St. Paul.

The church doors, normally closed but unlocked, were wide open today. Cathy and Dave sauntered in and lit a prayer candle for Danny, Cathy’s brother, who had passed away some twenty years ago. They credited him for their original summer romance, and, because his published memorial had reintroduced them, they credited him with their newfound relationship as well. Several candles were being lit by alter boys; a mass would shortly begin. Cathy, a devout Catholic, suggested they stay. Dave was rather leery. He was usually a stranger to church, save for the Mormon churches of his past. Cathy said there was no pressure, that the choice was all his. But she thought he might find it helpful. Reluctantly, Dave agreed. This time, when Dave sat down in the nearest pew, he had someone there beside him.

"From that point on, there grew this deep-seeded desire to be loved unconditionally."

During mass, verses were read, hymns sung, but when it came to the giving of communion, Dave was unsure. Cathy quelled his anxieties, saying, once again, there was no pressure, that Dave did not have to receive communion, but could simply receive a blessing from the priest. Reserved but ambitious, Dave joined Cathy. When he reached the priest, the priest placed his hands on Dave to bless him; however, he lingered there for longer than the rest. The priest prayed and prayed and prayed for Dave, so much so that those behind him were becoming aggravated at the congestion of the prayer line. Cathy had already taken her seat when she noticed that Dave was still up front. Finally, the priest finished up and Dave sat back down to join her. She looked up at him to find he had tears in his eyes. Somberly, he took her hand and squeezed it lightly.

“Thank you,” he said tearfully.

“The experience was just so cathartic for him. I think it was the first time in his life that he started any sort of healing process,” said Cathy. “But I told him that if he were really moved by that and if he were open to the idea that he needed to come down to Missouri Valley sometime to meet Father Raphael.”

Cathy had a special connection with her local parishioner, and thought that Dave could benefit from a heartfelt connection with a man of God. A month later, Dave stayed with Cathy and her family for nine days. Dave spent much of his time with Father Raphael, simply talking. It was a form of catharsis, of therapy, of moving towards healing.

Halfway through his miniature vacation, Dave was sitting on the recliner across from Cathy in her cozy living room.

“Cathy Gore,” he began (he always referred to Cathy by her full name), “I’ve thought about this, I really have, and I want to become Catholic. I’ve gotten more out of going to church with you three times than I have in a lifetime spent at Mormon churches.”

So, on September 10, 2016, his 51st birthday, Dave Jones was baptized and confirmed as a Catholic. Throughout the whole process, tears clouded Dave’s eyes. After his confirmation, Dave hugged Father Raphael closely and tightly. Afterwards, Dave walked back to his car with Cathy’s arm in his.

“This is where I belong,” he said. “This is what family feels like.”

And, with that, it was time for the cancer treatment to begin.

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I Drifted But Now I'm Reaching Out

I'm not going to isolate myself anymore.

I’ve noticed that since I started college, I dropped a lot of habits. Some were habits that I really needed to get rid of, such as picking at my nails and snacking way too much. Other habits, though, I really shouldn’t have dropped. Maybe I just got too busy or lazy, or maybe it was just something for the high school me. Yeah, I’ve changed a lot in college but I’m going to try and get back into the good habits I had.

College gave me a lot of time. Suddenly I had all this free time and I realized that it was entirely up to me what I wanted to do with it. The freedom is really great, I won’t deny that, but what I noticed was that I found myself alone a lot.

Maybe it was my intention that some days I just wanted some alone time, but more often than not I found myself realizing that I hadn’t seen or talked to friends in a while. I realized I wasn’t hanging out with people anymore. I was alone.

Now, I know the importance of myself reaching out. Before I always worried that there was a reason I wasn’t seeing or talking to people as often, I mean, there was school so maybe everyone was just busy.

But I feared that I was missing out on so much was because I was unwanted in those moments. After gaining confidence, I've decided won’t isolate myself anymore. I’m an outgoing person, but I won’t be selectively outgoing anymore.

In high school, I could barely go two classrooms down without seeing someone and stopping to talk to them, and I want college to be the same way. It’s really impossible to know everyone at your college but reaching out isn’t that hard for me to do, I’ve just been lazy. I haven’t put in as much effort as I should be putting in and I know that if I want to keep some of the amazing friendships that I currently have, I need to not be distant.

It’s easy to drift away when emotions and events start piling up. Sometimes, the only thing I want to do is just lay in bed and not think about my to-do lists and schedules and problems that I have.

Once I start doing that though, I get sucked in and it becomes so hard to get the energy to get up and move. I don’t want that to be the case anymore. I don’t want to hide away with the “what ifs” and speculation as to why I didn’t go or get invited. From now on, I’m just going to go, and then see what happens.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To My Best Friends, Thank You

I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you.

I have gone through many friends in the past few years, some that lasted a while some that only lasted a few months, but you know exactly when you found your perfect person, soulmate, best friend, the one that will never get away. It’s the friends that stick with you through the toughest times and stay.

The ones you call at 3:00 a.m. because you got into a fight with your boyfriend and can’t sleep and they stay on the phone until your ready to sleep. The ones that you can count on to pick you up because you need a ride no matter where you are.

Dear Best Friends,

I just wanted to thank you for being you and for letting me be me. Thank you for letting me feel so much like myself when I’m with you. Thank you for sharing in my happiest moments, and for listening to my saddest stories and giving compassion and empathy from wherever you are. Thank you for being the only person I ever want to confide in. Thank you for being the most beautiful person, inside and out.

Thank you for making the world a better place, just by being in it. Thank you for defining selfless, always putting others before yourself, you are going to change the world just as much as you have changed mine. Thank you for all the memories we made at Disney this year on our senior trip. Thank you for practically being my second Mom.

Thank you for setting the bar so high and making it impossible to find another friend as good as you. Thank you for making these past years we have been friends feel like forever and for giving me enough memories to last a lifetime, but not ending there.

Thank you for making me hurt when I miss you, but for taking the hurt away when I see you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for the absolute privilege of being able to call you my best friend, thank you for being my person. Thank you for giving me these reasons, and a million more, to be thankful for.

I sometimes find myself looking back on my life and realizing how huge of a part you have played in keeping me steady when the rest of my world has been falling apart. How you have known what to say and do in the moments when I have felt all control slipping through my fingers.

Even if it’s just dropping everything and taking me for coffee, shopping and listening to me try to untangle the mess I call my life. Thank you for those days when the rest of the world is against me, for making me feel less alone. For believing every silly dream which enters my head and being excited for me about things which no one else understands. Thank you for always validating my emotions, for taking my side, for telling me when I’m wrong, for being honest.

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