Recently, I was at the local West Marine delivering a pair of snack sized cheesecakes to my friend Maddie. She and I started talking and she asked me why I made them. I thought about it for a minute and realized that the reason I have been making snack-sized cheesecakes and delivering them, in some cases to people I barely even know, is because I want to honor the memory of the woman I love most, Lauren Elizabeth Kelley.
Talking to Maddie, I realized that I really only started making the snack-sized versions of my cheesecakes about eight years ago, at least making them with any regularity. The main reason I had done that was so I could deliver them to Lauren, and to a lesser degree, Bridget, her little sister.
Years ago, it had become something of a ritual for me to go visit Lauren in the morning and bring her a ziploc bag with half-a-dozen snack-sized cheesecakes in it. I started doing this long before I realized how much I love Lauren Elizabeth Kelley or that I wanted to marry her–because she was my friend and I really delighted in seeing the smile bringing them to her would bring to her face.
Many mornings, I would go over to her family’s house and bring her the cheesecakes, often bringing her an iced coffee as well. And we’d spend an hour or more talking. Often, she’d try and sneak a cheesecake out of the bag as she made a show of putting them in the freezer for later…but I’d usually catch her–often by finding the crumpled aluminum evidence of the cheesecake’s demise.
The person I made these snack-sized cheesecakes for was an amazing young woman. She was smart, honest, beautiful, funny, lovable, and sweet. She was someone I have known all of her life and loved all of her life. In fact, I do not know how to not love her because I have always loved her and always will.
She was the person who laughed when we were cleaning the green slime out of her family’s pool and asked me to make sure she didn’t fall in.Lauren would squeal “Danny” with delight and run up to hug me when I would show up at the cinema she worked at when she was a teen. She was the person who danced a little victory dance when she beat me at Scrabble during our late night bouts.
That was the person I really started making the snack sized cheesecakes for. As time went by, I would take the other cheesecakes and give them to other people I knew. After all, I make them two dozen at a time and I can’t possibly eat them all.
Three years ago, I lost that amazing woman to her additions to drugs and alcohol. Her father’s lifelong abuse of her is likely one of the major reasons she became a drug-addicted alcoholic that would rather prostitute herself to get the drugs and alcohol her addictions require than to ask the man she said she loves for help.
I also believe that her father coerced her into perjuring herself to selfishly protect himself by threatening to withhold her college tuition if she did not. Considering that the woman I love has always considered education paramount, this was a very genuine threat to her.
Three years ago, I stopped making my snack-sized cheesecakes. I don’t really remember consciously making the decision to do that, but I did, and after talking with Maddie, I realized that the real reason I did was because I couldn’t bring them to the one person I really made them for–my beautiful and beloved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley.
About two years ago, I realized that not making them made no sense. Just because I couldn’t taken them to Lauren any longer didn’t mean I should stop making them because too many people enjoyed them. So, I started making them again and delivering them.
The people I deliver them to are my friends down on the SouthCoast, like Jaime, Katie, Jesse, Cassie, Laura, Dave and Maddie. Most of them are young women because they really love cheesecake. I’ve added a few new people to the list, like Corrie and her co-workers over at Flour Girls, and Libby and the crew she works with at Jake’s Diner. Seeing the smiles on their faces, while not quite the same as seeing my beautiful Lauren’s smile, is still well worth all the work and effort.
Today, I am at my friend Dave’s house. I am making a batch of two dozen cheesecakes this morning. A dozen vanilla and a dozen blueberry. This afternoon, I will be delivering them and collecting the smiles and hugs I receive as payment.
This is one way I honor the memory of the amazing woman I love and lost to her addictions. I haven’t seen the woman I love in over three years. All that seems to be left is the drug-addicted alcoholic who does nothing but lie. That is why I finally chose to walk away from her and her family a year ago. Trying to stay was destroying my health and turning me into someone other than the man Lauren loves. Lauren had chosen to lie once again and perjure herself. She had chosen her addictions and her abusive father over me.
I’d rather remember Lauren Elizabeth Kelley as the amazing, brutally honest, beautiful, funny, smart and gracious woman I thought fit to be Gee’s successor.
Her father’s years of abuse of his wife and his children has left them all badly damaged. They are four of the people I have loved most and considered part of my family for decades. I lost them all to Lauren’s addictions.
Yet, in many ways, Lauren’s mother Sue’s last text message to me is the truth and always will be. Almost three years ago, Sue sent me a message that said, “Dan, I know you will always be there for us.” That is the truth, especially for Lauren Elizabeth Kelley, a woman I have loved all of her life and always will.
While Lauren Elizabeth Kelley is someone I will always love, I realize that she can not be a part of my life, at least not while she is in denial about the truth–the truth about her addictions and the truth about who we are to each other. The longer she goes on living a life based on lies, the less likely it is she will ever return to being the amazing woman that said “Sarangheyo” and told me she would adore the Asians with freckles our children would be.
If, by any chance, a part of my beloved Lauren Elizabeth Kelley does still exist and is still reading this blog, I want her to remember the truth of who we were to each other. I have written a post, titled “My Gift to Lauren Elizabeth” which I think shows the truth of who we were and why we spent a week talking about getting married.
Even if I never see my beautiful Lauren Elizabeth Kelley again, she will always be in my thoughts and in my heart. And, I will go on baking snack-sized cheesecakes to honor the amazing woman I would have married had I been given the chance.
I am moving on. The healing process has been difficult and long. My life has been richer and better for having had Lauren Elizabeth Kelley in it. I just wish she were healthy and still here so that we could start on the future we once talked about.
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.