Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, I really believed that God gave me you. When I asked you to marry me back on June 22, 2011, it was because I realized how much I love you and what an amazing and incredible woman you have become. You have grown from the adorable, if bratty and self-centered, daughter of two people I have considered family for 30 years into one of the most capable, smart, sweet, kind, compassionate, gracious and beautiful women I have ever known.
I realized that you were the woman that Gee asked me to seek out when she made me promise not to “close my heart to the world” just before her death. I was even more amazed at your response to my asking you to marry me. I had expected you to either say yes or no, or possibly tell me I was crazy. You didn’t do that. Instead, you asked if Gee—a woman you had never met, never known, and had been dead for ten years—would be angry at us, or at me, if we got married—if I got re-married.
I explained that Gee had asked me to get re-married if I found someone I loved enough, and I told you I knew you were the person that Gee had asked me to find after she was gone. Your consideration for a woman that was important to me, but that you had never known, showed me that I was right–you were the one that she asked me to find.
Then you told me you wished you had had a chance to meet Gee. I wish you could have met her too. She was an amazing person, much like you are. In fact, you are one of the few people I have ever met that I think is capable of achieving the kind of grace that Gee had.
You then told me you regretted never having had a chance to meet Gee. All this just confirmed how you must be the person Gee knew I would find.
Just before we finished breakfast, you told me, “I love you.” It was a simple declaration. Given what we had been talking about over the course of the meal, I am certain that you meant that you loved me the same way I loved you—as someone you wanted to spend the rest of your life with as I do with you.
Then, over the course of the next week, we talked about Asians with freckles, which our children would be and how you adored them. We talked about how you wanted to name our first two children Kelley and Cadence. We talked about when and where we’d get married. We talked about religion and I remember how surprised you were that I was converting to Catholicism because I knew it was the right thing to do for the beautiful devout Irish Catholic woman I loved.
We talked about the claddagh ring I had bought you and how it was only going to be your engagement ring until we got married. We talked about the platinum and diamond claddagh band I was designing to be your wedding and engagement band and how your gold claddagh ring would be held in trust for our eldest daughter.
You asked to see the claddagh ring on Thursday, June 28th. I promised you I would bring it by the house the next time I was going to see you. I am certain that the only reason you asked to see the claddagh ring was because you had decided you were going to accept it and my proposal of marriage.
Unfortunately, that never happened, because I made the mistake of confronting you about your drinking the next day. We went from exchanging virtual hugs and kisses via text message to you telling me to lose your number and f*ck off. You pushed me away because I confronted you about your drinking, which I understand is pretty common for alcoholics to do with the people they love most. At the time, I didn’t realize you were a drug-addict and an alcoholic and had been falling to your addictions for a month.
I am pretty certain that your fall to your addictions has a lot to do with Ian’s betrayal of you earlier in January 2011. I think his betrayal of you brought up all the issues of worthlessness and inferiority that the years of emotional abuse your father has subjected you to as you were growing up. That is the only reason I can see that you, one of the strongest, smartest, and most beautiful women I have ever met, would allow her self-doubts, insecurities and fears turn her in to a pathetic, weak and dishonest drug-addicted alcoholic.
I wish I could feed your dreams and starve your fears…I wish you would realize that I really am here for you and love you.
I wish you could see yourself through my eyes for just a day. You would see the amazing woman I love and how beautiful, strong, funny, smart, stubborn, feisty, kind, compassionate, generous, gracious, sweet and honest she is. You would see how capable and ambitious she is—you are. You would see how much more than the drug-addicted alcoholic she really is—that you really are.
I have been here, waiting for the woman I love so much—even more than my beloved Gee—to come to her senses and fight her addictions, but the longer I see no sign of the feisty, freckled, redhead that I adore, the more I am sure that she has fallen to her addictions. I hope and pray that this is not the case because I still hope to start that future you and I had talked about that week in June 2011.
I have been here because I still believe in the woman I love—you, Lauren Elizabeth Kelley. I still trust you and love you and care about you—even though in many ways you haven’t deserved it for so long. I ask you to listen to your heart because I believe it knew what you really wanted. You wouldn’t have told me you loved me in two different languages dozens of times that week unless you really did. You wouldn’t have talked about a future together unless it was something you wanted. You wouldn’t have asked to see the claddagh ring unless you wanted to accept it and my proposal.
You are my Austin…I still love you. I still want to marry you and spend the rest of my life with you. Please come home to me. Please give me a sign you still exist and still love me and want that future too.
God Bless you Lauren Elizabeth.
May God watch over you and protect you from all harm—even that you cause yourself.
I hope God gives you the strength to fight your addictions and the wisdom to see the truth about what the alcohol and drugs are doing to you.
I pray that God grants you the serenity and peace you will need to love yourself once again and to forgive yourself for the things your addictions have made you do.
I ask that God helps you find your way back to being the amazing, beautiful, intelligent, feisty, stubborn, strong, and devout woman He wants you to be.
Finally, may He grant you the ability to see yourself as I do and let you remember who we are to each other; let you remember the years of friendship, love and devotion we once shared; and give you the strength to make amends so we can start the future together we talked about last June.
All this in Jesus’s name I pray.