Today is Valentine's Day. A Happy day for many couples as it should be. I was only able to spent one Valentine's Day with Debbie. I would have enjoyed more, but I was over joyed with the time we did share. When I sat down and wrote our memoir, I wondered why I couldn't shake her memories all those years. I answered that question, in what I think, is the best chapter describing our love. "Please Leave the Light On."
"Please, Leave the Light On."
Yes, my love for her grew stronger with each passing day. But there was a day that could have changed everything. We’d been dating about two months when the urge to sleep with each other was just too much to bear. Would it be like it was in high school, would it be awkward, would we remember what to do, but something that hadn't crossed my mind - how would she feel about herself?
I knew she'd had a mastectomy in May of 2008. I knew in my heart it didn't matter what her chest would look like without the right breast. I guess to men, it’s just an appendage or something to play with, but for a woman, it’s a whole different ballgame.
Debbie and I talked about it occasionally but never in real depth. I always told her it didn't matter; I loved her just the way she was. Yet I remember seeing the apprehension in her eyes and the thoughts of disbelief. Losing a breast in her eyes was, in a way, losing a part of her womanhood. She’d nursed her children with them. She’d provided her body with pleasure from them and now she only had one. I guess it might be like a man losing the loss of an arm or a leg, but I'm not sure that’s a fair comparison.
We walked up the stairs hand in hand. She had that wonderful girlish smile on her face, kind of like when we were in high school and my parents were out for the evening. We entered her bedroom and immediately fell on the bed with arms wrapped around each other, kissing long and hard. The anticipation of making love to her again was boiling up deep inside of me. I’m thinking of the pleasures we’re both going to share. Our lips are locked hard against each other. Breathing was difficult but not necessary. I ran my hand over her smooth warm chest. She cooed at my touch. I could feel her body trembling from my touch, but there was something a little amiss. I could also feel hesitancy in her movements. She wanted to start undressing but wasn't ready. Our lips parted, I looked into her deep brown eyes, and asked if something was wrong. She partly smiled and said, “No, everything's fine.” Her answer told me different.
I raised myself off her and sat on the edge of the bed. “Debbie, I love you the way you are. Your physical appearance is not who you are, okay?” She said not a word. The thought of what she might think, and my reaction of seeing her bare naked chest minus one breast hit me like a ton of bricks. I got up and walked toward the light switch. “Debbie, would you like for me to turn the light off?”
She looked at me, her brown eyes starting to fill with tears, “No Jeff, please, leave the light on.” I stood by the switch gazing into her eyes. It wasn't necessary for us to make love for me to love her. The only thing I wanted was to be around her and love her.
She lowered her head and slowly removed her robe, letting it slide onto the bedspread. I walked towards the bed not taking my eyes off her face. This was a monumental moment for her and for me. I saw the thoughts in her eyes as I walked closer to her.
Could he love a woman with only one breast? Would he be disgusted or repulsed from the ugly scar that stretches across my chest?
I sat down on the bed and placed my right hand on her leg. She raised her head up, a small tear sliding down her cheek, and looked for a sign in my facial expressions. What is he thinking?
No words were needed. I wiped away the tear, kissed her lips, and said, “Debbie, I love you and always have.” I looked down at the scar, took a finger and gently moved it over the incision. I could feel her body trembling. Is he accepting my physical appearance or is he just being nice hoping to get laid? I told her again, “Debbie, I love you.” Applying another kiss, I lowered my head and kissed the area where her right breast had been. She momentarily shuddered; I felt wet drops falling on my neck. I kissed and sucked the right part of her chest in an attempt to let her know it didn't matter. I truly loved her. I felt both of her hands move onto my head and pull me hard against her in an effort to make sure I wasn't pulling away. I wasn't. I was in the arms of the woman I’d pursued for over thirty years and the loss of a breast wasn't changing my mind, not today or tomorrow. Nothing would keep us apart again.
After a minute or so, her grip loosened, and I raised my head, looking straight into her eyes. I placed my left hand on her chest and said it again, “Debbie, I love you.” This time she smiled. It started slowly at the corner of her face and grew until all of her teeth were showing.
She still had a few tears falling down her cheeks, but this time she spoke, “Jeff, I was so worried what you would think, that I am only half a woman and not the girl you remember from high school. I would understand if you were repulsed by the scar. I just didn't know what you would think.” She took a quick breath and continued, “Jeff, I now know that when you say you love me, you really mean it, and now I can tell you the same without any reservations. Jeff, I love you, too, and have missed being in your arms.”
We kissed each other as only true lovers do. No reservations, no second thoughts, no hidden agendas, only deep, passionate, probing kisses.
The storm passed. Her reservations were put to ease. I didn't ignore the fact she was minus a breast but concentrated on the most important issue at hand: loving Debbie for who she was and not for what she’d lost.
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