A Modern Love Story: Part Three

A Modern Love Story: Part Three

The heartfelt resolution of our heartwarming narrative.

Cathy and Dave’s story was far from over, however. Dave’s roommate, Carol, was pressing for Dave to be cremated and his remains buried in a military cemetery. However, Cathy knew that was against Dave’s wishes; multiple times before his death, he had outlined that he wanted to be buried in her family plot, alongside Cathy’s brother, where Cathy was to be buried as well; he wanted to be buried with his family. Carol wasn’t too keen on this idea. She flagrantly waved around the medical power of attorney which had been signed over the day before Dave entered the hospital. She claimed that an individual’s remains could not be divided up were they to be buried in a military cemetery. But that wasn’t all: Dave’s funeral in Minneapolis would not be held for another few weeks; Bob and Carol had a concert they wished to attend and that took precedence.

None of this sat right with Cathy. The domineering force with which Carol assured her that this is what Dave wanted; her putting a concert before her friend--none of it. Thus began a legal battle fighting for the cremains of Dave Jones. Cathy contacted a lawyer and did her own homework; Carol was mistaken in saying that all of Dave’s cremains were required for a burial in a military plot. She then told Cathy that she could have part of Dave’s cremains--but not until after his funeral in Minneapolis. Unable to talk any sense into Dave’s roommate, Cathy filed an injunction with all the necessary paperwork to bring Dave back home. All hell broke loose from that point forward.

Cathy received phone call after phone call with Carol on the other end spewing vicious insults and scorn.

“She told me ‘If I wanted half of Dave, that I could take him,’” said Cathy. “I just better hope she weren’t around to see it. I responded that Dave had never wanted a funeral in a military cemetery, that, before he died, he expressed how much he wanted to be buried by those who loved him. I told her that I’m doing what I think is right, otherwise I wouldn’t be digging my heels in so much. ‘Some Catholic you are,’ Carol replied and she hung up the phone.”

The weekend that Carol and Bob were out at their concert, Cathy made a quiet trek up to the Twin Cities alone. With all the required documentation in hand, she journeyed to the funeral home. Finally, half of Dave’s cremains were in her possession. She drove home listening to the songs they loved with the windows down, Dave riding shotgun.

Father Raphael conducted the service in the quaint Missouri Valley chapel. It was a rather simple one, little fuss but lots of love, just how Dave would have wanted it. The funeral was attended by Cathy, her children, and friends. Dave’s children, former lovers, and adoptive family had all been informed of his passing; all declined to attend.

After the memorial service, Cathy and her family drove from the church to the cemetery in her ruby red convertible, the top down, the wind blowing through their hair. She turned on the radio, blaring the music as she had done with Dave some several months prior and some 25 years earlier. On the radio, one of Dave’s favorite gospel songs was playing, one they had played at his funeral. It was called “Dear Younger Me;” it was a song centered on redemption. After the song came drew to an end, the station cut to a commercial break. Cathy turned the dial and the next station she landed was just beginning to play a song, stepping off with an upbeat rhythm and the strumming of an acoustic guitar, a melancholy tune that flooded back memories of video chats and nights spent under dimmed hospital lights: Brett Young’s “In Case You Didn’t Know.”

In case you didn't know
Baby I'm crazy 'bout ya
And I would be lyin' if I said
That I could live this life without ya
Even though I don't tell you all the time
You had my heart a long long time ago
In case you didn't know

In the back seat rode Cathy’s children, Danny and Piper. Teary eyed, Cathy turned around to face her daughter. Piper clutched Dave’s urn as he had once held her: in her lap, all-encompassed, safe, securing, and loving. Tears rolled down both of their cheeks. Before he had passed, Piper asked Dave for a sign that he would be there for her, watching over their little family. He delivered.

At the cemetery, Dave was given a proper military burial. Cathy and her family stood under the warming June sun, steady and erect, as the honor guard delivered a 21 gun salute. Cathy was handed her folded up flag; the Dave she had fought for, in life and in death, was lowered gently into the ground. He was buried surrounded by Cathy’s family; by his family.

“Ya know, the church and cemetery weren’t exactly bursting at the seams at Dave’s funeral,” said Cathy, “but he was remembered by the people who loved him the most. That’s what matters.”

Cathy Gore is still a happy, loving person. She’s continued dating; after all, she has a lot of love to give. But Dave does not stray very far from her mind. She used to listen to recordings and voicemails he had left her while they were together; however, one day, while at work, her phone died completely. She was unable to record the messages on another recording device and the lost messages were irretrievable.

“I miss the sound of his voice a lot,” said Cathy. “It was really hard for me to let go of those messages...now, when I want to hear him, it’s only in my memories. I could say I miss the way he used to look at me. But on this picture collage that I have hanging up on my sunroom, there are pictures of him giving me the look that I like. It just warms my heart.”

The caustic characters in this narrative still rear their heads on occasion; Dave’s roommates called Cathy asking for photos of Dave for the funeral up in Minneapolis. In the year that Dave had re-entered Cathy’s life, she had enough photos to fill a four by six collage, one that now sits in her sunroom. In the over ten years that Dave lived in Minneapolis with his roommates, they did not have a single photo of him. Dave’s son visited Cathy once, too. Dave had left a car in Cathy’s possession after his death, one that Dave’s son wanted. The car sat in Cathy’s driveway for a year. When he finally came around, there was not an ounce of empathy on his face. He kicked the tires a bit, circled the car a few times, and smiled; it was like Christmas morning for him.

“Is that all his life meant to you,’ I thought, ‘just a car?’” wondered Cathy. “Dave’s whole life, even after it, people were just there to take, take, take. I thought to myself, ‘It’s no wonder he developed cancer. It was just a physical manifestation of all the toxic people who had been in his life since the very beginning.’ All any of us really want in our journey here is to love and be loved and that was denied to him time and time and time again. For fifty years, he felt unloved and unwanted. And for his last one, he was with us.”

"Now, when I want to hear him, it’s only in my memories. I could say I miss the way he used to look at me. But on this picture collage that I have hanging up on my sunroom, there are pictures of him giving me the look that I like. It just warms my heart."

Dave is still remembered, in the photo collage, in the loving memories of Cathy and her children. He is still prayed for.“At church, we have All Souls’ Day in November,” said Cathy, “and the purpose of that service is to remember all the loved ones that have passed in the past year. Every family gets to carry up a candle in honor of their loved one, and of course we chose to honor Dave, and then everyone in our congregation prays for their immortal souls. Piper carried up the candle for our little family. I still struggle with the impact this had on the kids. But every time I saw people turn their backs on Dave, the more I wanted to embrace him as a part of our family. At the end of the day, I made the decision that sits well with me. There are far worse things in the world for my kids to see than love.”

Dave reentered Cathy’s life on June 3, 2016. He passed away on June 5, 2017. It was not a matter of the length of love, but of depth. In 367 days, he gained a family. In 367 days, he found God. In a year and two days, Dave Jones lived his whole life.

“Loving him was all-consuming,” said Cathy. “You know you love somebody when you put their needs ahead of your own and I think we have, Dave and I, a pretty unique love story, and I’m thankful that God saw fit to bring him back into my life and to use me in the capacity that He did, to be there for that man. Because I would ask Dave, ‘Do you feel loved? I want you to feel loved, because I have it for you in every fiber of my being.’ And he always would reply, ‘Yes. Yes, my angel. You make me feel loved.’ And you can see it in the way he looked at me when I was taking his pictures or how he held my hand. It was the most profound relationship, and it was only a year. But wow. What an impact it made. For both of us.”

Cathy grew up as a devout Catholic, and, while a journey like this may cause someone to turn their back on God, it strengthened her connection. She sees the experience as a life lesson; she felt the whole journey has helped her to find love again, to experience a kind of love she thought she forgot about. And how could she turn against God after a love like that? Daily, she talked to God and to Dave.

“I have never prayed for a person the way I have for Dave. I prayed everyday for a miracle,” Cathy said. “And every day, every day with him, it was.”

Cover Image Credit: Cathy Gore

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An Open Letter to the Best Friend I Didn't See Coming

Some people come into your life and change you forever—thanks, bestie.

Dear best friend,

I wasn't expecting you when God placed you in my life. I had my friends. I had my people. I wasn't exactly open to the idea of new meaningful friendships because I had the ones I needed, and it didn't seem like I really needed anybody new.

Thank God that was false. Sometimes you meet people and you just know that you're going to be good friends with. Sometimes you meet people and you realize that there is no such thing as chance. I think God has a funny way of making it seem as if the things that happen to us are by chance, but honestly, that’s a load of crap. If the biggest moments of our lives were left up to chance, then I believe that would make God out to seem as if he didn’t care. It would make it seem as if He was truly abandoning me and making me face some of my most important seasons fully isolated. But you, best friend, are a true testament to the fact that God doesn’t just leave such important aspects up to chance. Thank you for taking a chance on our friendship, and thank you for allowing me to take a chance on what I didn’t realize would be the most impactful friendship in my entire life.

Thank you for being real with me. Thank you for not sugar coating things. Thank you for telling me when I have a bad attitude. Thank you for loving me through my mistakes. Thank you for supporting me in my decisions, even if it isn’t always the decision you would make. Thank you for wanting the best for me, and for making that your true intent behind the words that you say to me, whether they be constructive criticism or encouragement.

Thank you for being a goof with me. Thank you for putting me first. Thank you for seeing the importance of our friendship. Thank you for making time in your schedule for us to just sit and do homework, eat Mexican food, or sit on the porch and listen to music that emotionally wrecks you.

You’re one of a kind. You’re a shoulder to lean on. You’re a safe place. You’re a free spirit. You’re rough and tough, but your heart melts for the people you love and it’s obvious. You’re more than meets the eye. You are worth getting to know. You are worth loving. You pursue people. You are passionate about your future. You are everything that a person needs, and I really thank God that for some reason you continue to choose to be in my life. Thank you for literally dragging me up my mountains of fear when I want to stay exactly where I am at and wallow in the sadness. You bring joy—true joy—wherever you go. You are my best friend, confidant, and biggest fan. You will be the Maid of Honor, Godmother, and fun Aunt.

I used to think lifelong friendships weren’t really a thing. It just seemed like people always grew apart and forever was never a point that was attainable. Best friends forever is a cliché phrase that is continuously overused nowadays (sometimes, I even used to make light of it), but thanks for making that a reality. You are truly the best friend I could have asked for. So thank you for it all. You make life more fun, and I couldn’t thank God more for making an incredible human, friends with me.

I love you, pal!


Cover Image Credit: Julia Dee Qualls

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As Someone Who Listens To Music 100% Of The Time, There Are Songs That Define Me

Songs are more than just sound.


Psy proclaimed, "The world's most famous and popular language is music." My life has consisted of many meaningful events that could be represented by some songs. They perfectly narrate my feelings within such a small time slot. Some of the lyrics have gotten me through hard times, others describe the love and joy I have been introduced to through my entire life. The best kind of songs are the ones that ignite a sensation of excitement for my future. They expertly describe the love I hope to achieve one day alongside my future family, and the trials and errors it will take to accomplish those milestones.

Just as every teenager comes to the harsh reality of growing up, I had to acknowledge the same feats that erupted within my life. Not because of my home life necessarily, in that sense, I was blessed to be born into such a loving, accepting family that was constantly supporting me. When I was ten years old, I learned that I was diagnosed with dyslexia. The teachers I encountered that I thought were there to guide and help me, would instead call me degrading names to my face and force me to leave the classroom because I was too slow to follow the class during reading lessons.

As Miley Cyrus sang in her early hit, "The Climb," she poignantly states: "Lost with no direction / My faith is shaking but I gotta keep trying." I was determined to succeed academically, so following the negative effects I experienced from my disorder, I have been working harder than anyone else and pushing myself to be the best version of myself that I can be. The song "The Climb" showed me that life is not easy, but it is manageable. Cyrus states,

"There's always gonna be another mountain / I'm always gonna wanna make it move / Always gonna be an uphill battle / Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose / Ain't about how fast I get there / Ain't about what's waiting on the other side / It's the climb /."

Many factors of my life can potentially hinder my journey to success, but I've learned that my attitude will ultimately determine how I handle those obstacles. Helen Keller stated: "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

Through the hard work, I now have pushed myself on the verge of success.

When I was 14 years old I moved from my home. Baltimore, Maryland is where I grew up and thought was where I would raise my kids. Everything changed when my family picked up, left my friends and everyone one I loved, and embarked on a new journey to Orlando, Florida. I was scared to move but at the same time, excited to continue forward and take part in new experiences. Styx worded it perfect in their song "Come Sail Away," when they say "I've got to be free free to face the life that's ahead of me." Now, I am so glad we moved to Florida. I have been exposed to so many more opportunities than I would be in Maryland. This move set me up to be more independent in the future and more adaptable to change.

When people ask me what I want to be when I grow up, the first thing that comes to my mind is a husband than a father. The thing I want the most is a family. It was really relatable when Jason Maraz says, "I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend/ Lucky to have been where I have been/ Lucky to be coming home again/." If I can come home to the women I love and lucky enough to call her my best friend, my life is set. He also says, "They don't know how long it takes. Waiting for a love like this. Every time we say goodbye. I wish we had one more kiss. I'll wait for you I promise you, I will." This is a reflection of what I want my future to be. The greatest gift in life is love. And if I fall in love with my best friend my life would be complete.

There are many songs that I can relate to. Whether they talk about a rough time in my past, or an exciting memory, or even my future where all I have are my hopes and dreams. The thing about songs is they are usually referring to the artist's life, but it can also be applicable to the listeners as well. The songs that are associated are some of many. So many songs have hidden messages and suitable narratives for my life. Music is my compass for when I am lost.

What's yours?

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