Growing up, there was one day of the year guaranteed to find me crying sad tears in my room where no one could see: my birthday. Some of you will relate to that, some of you won’t. If you can relate, than there’s no need to me to explain…and if you can’t…well, there’s just no point in trying to explain.

But, I’ve already cried, and it’s not even my birthday yet! This was one of the weirdest cries I have ever had… You see, we got home yesterday to see a package — directed to me, from my parents in law. Insanely curious and intrigued, I started opening the package. And then, then I saw the “Happy Birthday Camilla!!!” card and just burst into tears. Like, I’m talking Mount St. Helens here. I can’t believe how completely and overwhelmingly loved I felt…

Which is ridiculous! Why should 12 full-sized Snickers bars show me their love more than three years worth of words?

But… it did. And, more than that. I guess I needed an extra boost of love ever since my, uh, rift with the church. They’ve been telling me all along that they love me, but I guess it needed to be time with this more vulnerable part of the year for it to really sink in.


That’s one of the things that has surprised me most about leaving the church — the need for people to tell me that they still love me and, yes, that they still like me too. It’s still hard sometimes — I left a church and community that I did not want to leave. It’s hard. Hard to leave the church and still associate with the church. Hard to go to church with Dan. Hard to sit in and listen in church, knowing that my honest comments will make people uncomfortable. Hard to be around friends who tip-toe around the subject. Hard to be around family who pray for me to come back to the church. Hard to think people are pitying Dan.

“Dan…dear Dan. Everyone should have a friend like Dan…”

Those were words my roommates got used to hearing during the weeks I was getting to know this tall, new friend of mine — I’d walk in the front door, close it, and lean back against it, sighing. and I would say those same words every time.

Dan is so cool. He doesn’t judge. He doesn’t preach. He isn’t waiting for me to change my mind. I don’t know how he manages to fully believe in the LDS church and still support a wife who leaves it, but … he does. And it’s not a patronizing kind of support either. Back in the summertime, I used to worry he would subtly “missionary” me. I am ashamed now, that I would think that…Hadn’t I learned that he is unfailingly honest in all he does?

Haha — Talking about his honesty brought back a memory! Newly-ish-weds, still in the “sneak-out-of-bed-in-the-morning-to-mouthwash-so-you-have-fresh-breath” stage. Evening time. I was taking a bubble bath in our tiny little tub, chattering away to Dan. He leaves the room for a second. Comes back. Ever curious, I poke my head up and say, “Wheredya go? Whadya do?” He responds… “I, uh, needed to, uh, pass some gas.” What a simple little lesson about honesty!


You know, my family is very close knit. We love each other to pieces and “outsiders” don’t really fit in well. So Dan’s integration process what really…weird. Getting Dan to fit in with the family seemed like trying to get a square block into a round hole. But, everyone sat out the awkward dinners and conversations…and, eventually… he just fit. Snug as a bug, he was a Tijerina, and the clan would be incomplete without him. I remember the little break-throughs … mom, downstairs near the fireplace, tears in her eyes, opening up about her pain and looking to Dan for advice… dad, waiting for a time when he and I were alone, telling me how special Dan was … Cryst — oh whoa. I meant to type Christina. Because, well…Crystal and Dan never met. It’s so weird to think that they never met. I wonder what they would have thought of each other? [Pause] I can’t remember her voice anymore…or her laugh. How could I forget her laugh? I remember that I liked it — that I looked forward to it. I miss her… Oh, dear God in heaven, how I miss her. …


There are moments, lying on my bed, when I get fierce – panicked. — someone I know, someone I love could be gone in an instant. What-WHAT? Gone? Gone.What? No, I tell myself, it’s not possible — this, these people, this is how life is! But… it already happened. She was there. then she was gone. That means anyone can be … gone. And then I hate this — hate that I’ve had women come into Barnes & Noble buying a book called  “When Your Spouse Dies.” hateHATE. [Pause] Dan and I started dating only a few months after she died. When we would sit on the couch, holding each other, I would place my ear against his chest. Thumpthump… Thumpthump… Thumpthump... It was the most reassuring sound in the world, that heartbeat.


What the freak. Why’d I type all that? Fingers don’t know when to shut up. Eh. Better out than in.


One response to “24

  • llcall

    I enjoy reading about your journey, Camilla. “Better out than in” is so true, I think. (Not that everyone agrees; sometimes I get something out and someone tries to put it back in for me :))

    I have to admit that I am very curious about the crying on your birthday-thing. I have done that a few years in my life, but I’m not sure if my reasons are similar or different…

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