Jodi Lewchuk lives and writes in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her deeply personal storytelling and self-portraits explore the vulnerability, and bravery, of the human heart.

Letters to Lovers: The True Heart {2/6}

Letters to Lovers: The True Heart {2/6}

—Series inspired by Mary-Louise Parker's captivating Dear Mr. You

My dear X:

Did you know you were the first man I ever loved? If you didn't, I'm sure you won't be surprised to learn it.

You knew I had fallen madly, and so very earnestly, for you. It's why it took you so long to tell me. That you were in love with a man, too. You knew I would be crushed. And so when you revealed your secret, you did it with such tenderness. It remains one of those most genuine acts of care ever bestowed upon me.

Then you gave me time. Time to process, time to accept, time to mend. Time to learn to live with the truth that we would never be what I had thought we might. After I did those things, we moved forward into one of the most special relationships that continues to grace my life. We love, but without many of the complications that tangle other partnerships. We love with a rare freedom that spans miles and years.

You stood proudly beside my mother to watch me receive the Master's degree I worked through a year of such personal hardship to achieve. You hid beneath an open window to listen to me play piano, knowing I'm shy for audience. You held my hand when I made one of the most difficult phone calls of my life. You never missed (still don't) an opportunity to make me laugh so hard that whatever I was drinking would shoot out my nose.

I just laughed out loud writing that.

And just about a year ago, you guided me to dinner with your hand on the small of my back, then toasted me with a ridiculously overpriced "artisanal" gin and tonic, calling me your hero for having risen from the ashes.

But it was on that first trip West some twenty years ago that I truly understood what a beautiful bond holds us.

It was a time of extraordinary struggle in my life. I couldn't afford extended time away, but you insisted that three days for purpose become ten for pleasure. You insisted I needed and deserved it. I often do the exact opposite of what I'm told. But that time, I listened. 

We drove the Pacific Coast Highway north, and as the tails of my scarf sailed out the window as the car hugged the curves carved into cliffs, every care I had went with them. We played hide and seek amongst giant redwoods, stopped to drink roadside coffee from paper cups, and rolled up our pant legs to wade into ditches to pick wildflowers. 

You cut down all the calla lilies in your garden and put them in a giant pitcher on my bedside table, just because you knew I love them so. You swallowed your fear of heights so I could walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, and you humoured me as I lay flat on my back in the middle of foot and bike traffic so I could get a perfect photo of the suspension tower backdropped against a cloudless azure sky. And Julia Roberts and her character in Pretty Woman can fuck right off, because we might not have arrived at the San Francisco's Davies Hall in a private jet, but I wore a red dress just as stunning and walked tall on your arm before being devastated in the best way possible by Brahms. 

Chez Panisse, Napa Valley, picnics, art galleries. City Lights, murals, and the taste of salt on the air. All that and more before ten restorative days I had indeed sorely needed came to a close. We left the house early on my last morning, and the dogs circled us round and round as we made the climb into the Berkeley hills. We stopped three-quarters of the way up and looked at one another — encircled from the waist down in gauzy mist while our heads were kissed by bright, clear sunlight. No words, only delighted smiles, were necessary. 

As we reached the hill tops and looked out over the Bay, I had one of those moments where I could have wept for the sheer beauty laid bare before me: a sea of fog, glowing gold in its spotlight of sun, and two burgundy tips of bridge peering out from the pulsing cloud. It was if a burnished heaven was descending softly to Earth. When I spoke, it was barely a whisper.

 "I'm not sure I've ever seen anything so beautiful." 

I couldn't tear my eyes away from the vista before me, so I didn't see but rather felt you turn your head towards me. You laid your fingers gently on my shoulder, then let them trail down my arm. Your reply also came in a hush. 

"Well, you've never had a chance to step back and look at yourself, then, have you?" 

It's my tendency not to believe people when they tell me I'm beautiful. In any way. But there, that day, I believed you. I still do. I always will. 

So much love to you, X. Til the end.

Letters to Lovers: The Catalyst {3/6}

Letters to Lovers: The Catalyst {3/6}

Letters to Lovers: The Magician {1/6}

Letters to Lovers: The Magician {1/6}