our Story: Part XII

For those of you still hanging with me on this, may the good Lord bless you. Seriously, I started this two years ago. I don't want to just whip out an entry, so it's taking me a little time. I think that, including this one, there will be three more entries. The end is in sight!

If you've missed any of the previous installments, forgotten what's happening because it's been so long ago that you read one, or you're just joining in click HERE to read from the beginning.


I carry the eight hours from Orange City to Joplin with me everywhere I go. In the cafeteria as I meet new faces it weighs heavy on my shoulders. As I travel from class to class, I wish I could remove it from my backpack as easily as a book. Not only am I trying to figure out this new college thing, but I'm trying to figure out how to be me, be involved, be HERE, without Brent. I try by reminding myself that I am only 18 years old. I have so much life before me. I try to remind myself that I'm no good to him if I don't know who I am first.

But the ache and the distance seems insurmountable. Four more years of this? Are we kidding ourselves to think that we are capable.

I grab my friend's cell phone, since she has free nights starting at seven instead of nine, and dial Ozark's number from memory. "You have reached the residence directory of Ozark Christian College," the recorded, yet chipper voice informs me. "If you know the four digit num…." I hit the keys quickly and Brent picks up on the first ring.

"Hey there beautiful, I've been waiting by the phone." Since he doesn't have a cell phone, we pre-plan all of our phone calls so I don't call an empty room. "How are you doing today?"

I burst into tears. It hasn't been a good day and the sound of his voice is simply too much. I suck back tears and snot, and though he isn't looking at me I'm sure he can tell it's not a pretty sight. "It's been…tough…Brent…I miss you…."

And so our conversation goes. I suggest, again, the possibility of transferring to Ozark, and getting a joint teaching degree through the other local college. He assures me we just need to give it some more time.

Time. I hate time right now.

* * *
As I make my bottom bunk for my sophomore year, I think back to 12 months earlier. Saying goodbye this time was certainly no easier, but understanding the cyclical nature of my grieving helps. I know I will feel the ache physically for nearly two weeks, craving to be back with him. The next weeks I will begin to feel like I can handle it, for however long the Lord calls us to do this; I can handle the distance because Brent is worth it. Then the next week or two will bring with them more discomfort and anxiousness as I count down to the next time we'll see one another. Understanding this helps a little, but knowing I am in the beginning stages of this cycle leave me feeling sorry for myself.

I crawl into my yellow sheets and pull the lime green comforter around my shoulders. I now carry with me his "I love you" that he finally relinquished to me last fall. He had been at my school visiting and after a movie we sat laughing and talking and then he got quiet. I, like all teenage girls, instinctively asked what he was thinking. Almost before I was ready for it he said, "Oh, thinking about a lot of stuff. Like how ridiculous that movie was, how much I like laughing with you… and how I love you."

I've returned his sentiments many times over now, never doubting his sincerity in response. But now I think of beginning another year of this-- of this constant departure, of this constant aching, of this constant pull of wanting to be somewhere else yet knowing I'm where I'm supposed to be-- and the tears spill from behind my eye lids as I try to fall asleep before another new year of classes begins.
* * *

As I make my way back from class, trudging through the freshly fallen snow, my mind wanders to another campus hours away. What would it be like to walk across campus with him? To share the same groups of friends with him? To talk about professors we both have? I plop my bag on the loveseat in the corner of my little dorm room and flip on my computer.

New email from m0nkey21. The sensation I feel is still the same as when I first started getting these emails 4 years before. I click open the new message and can't help but smile. This message is written in a poem format:

you make me smile every day
for your heart i'll aways pray
your more beautiful than i could dream
your so hot that you almost steam.

i like writing you these dudes
escpecially when im in a "i love kelsey" mood...'s
your probably like awww, my boyfriends the best
and im like yeah, i aced this test.

i better keep rolling, man this is good
i wonder what i would be like living in the hood
i need to do laundry i have few cloths left
if i go any longer ill probably commit theft

your so nice your cute when your upset
i've never disliked you since we've met
you even like me when i cant read
or spell or mess up a deed

ok i love you so much, and i hope you like the
poem, you have to cuz your my girlfriend. ok i love you ill talk to you
later. by smoochums :)


Sigh. Yes, I can do this. I can wait for man who makes me laugh, and giggle, and feel cherished. Yes, the ache due to distance is worth this.

* * *
I scribble in my notebook as Prof Carl informs our class on the importance of having a clear vision of what you want to accomplish with each lesson. I look around at the faces of other students in my "Teaching Literature to Adolescents" class. Do they realize that most of us only have 3 semesters of college left after this? Do they even realize that I refer to this as "the downhill"? We get our journal assignment for next Thursday and bundle up before barreling across campus again.

While my nose suffers from the frigid air, my mind wanders to the letters I have been saving and accumulating since my sophomore year of high school five years ago. I still allow myself the giddy excitement of scrawling "to my future husband" across the tops of letters before stuffing them into the box.

When I get back to my room, I slowly remove the layers of clothing and the stress of the morning. I don't have a roommate this semester, as I'm a resident assistant, so I breathe in the quietness of my little corner of the world. I curl up on the love seat and grab the nearest notebook:

"My love, I am currently working on a unit of lessons for my someday students: a descriptive essay describing one of their favorite places. So I wanted to share a few of mine-- at my old house there were two spots outside that I loved, and both involved lilac bushes. One was by itself at the edge of our front yard. It was almost hollow in the center and so I would crawl through the branches and sit in there and read. I eventually found an old seat cushion…"

I continued to let my hand dance across the page. Though Brent and I had discussed marriage, I still tried to keep my mind open to the possibility that I was writing someone else.

"… An old wicker basket worked as a makeshift mailbox, hanging from the handle of the propane take. Eventually I found a broken road reflector and used it as a welcome sign. Many hours were spent in this 'house', the smell of lilacs constantly wafting over my body and bursting through my senses. Over the years I outgrew the small space, but it will always remain tucked away in my memory. Maybe someday I could take you there…"

How many more of these letters will I write before I know exactly, without a doubt who I am writing to, I wonder as stretch my fingers.

"… Right now in my life, God is challenging me to be fully faithful and fully present in all that I do. Like Job, God is showing me to put my hand over my mouth and be still before the Creator of everything. I love you, and I can't wait for the day I get to give you this, and every other, letter."

I sign my name in the orange pen and carefully crease the paper, folding it into a neat square. I lay it in the box and look down at my left hand. It's been nearly three years since Brent and I started dating. Three years of conversations and dates and laughter and tears. Three years of growing with one another, enduring the distance for one another, and learning about and how to love one another. Three years worth of knowing that this is the man I want to give these letters to.

But I still look at my left ring finger and wonder when it will no longer be empty.
The actual box of letters:


Brent said...

That second paragraph of my poem is funny. I don't remember writing that. I'm enjoying the memories that you inspire as I read. Good job, Kelsey.

Hannah said...

oh, I like your story! It just seems to get better and better. and, that's a pretty sweet box.

oh. and I did this game type thing, and tagged you in it. you can play along if you want. or not. it was kind of fun.

Also, thanks for your thoughts and prayers. School has been very different lately. I think things are starting to get back to normal. I'm glad you haven't had to go through anything like this before.