To Be WantedbyJakeRivers©
I was listening to Brenda Lee's great song, "I Want to be Wanted" recently and it sounded like a story was in that sad song, trying to get out. Maybe this is that story.
Thanks to techsan for his editing.
Tennessee Waltz (© acuff rose music, inc.) was written by Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart.
Never Ending Love was written by Delaney Bramlett & Bonnie Lynn O'Farrell (1971)
As I drove down the highway I mused over my dilemma – I was literally all dressed up with no place to go. I had been ready for my date with my fiancé to go out for dinner and maybe some dancing. He was late but that was not unusual - he did that all the time.
Finally after an hour of waiting, I called him. The cell phone rang a couple of times and I thought he wasn't going to answer. Then I could hear his voice faintly over the line; I could hear loud music in the background and what sounded like many people talking, laughing, and shouting.
"Hello, hello! Is anyone there?" Gerald was asking.
"Gerry! It's me, Jesse."
"Wait a minute."
There was a sudden lowering of the background noise as I heard a door closing.
"Jesse, you still there?"
"Yeah, Gerry. I've been waiting for an hour!"
"Jesse, babe, I'm sorry. Something came up at the last minute – this party see? I couldn't get out of it. Hey, babe! I'll make it up to you. I'll come over tomorrow and you can fix me dinner, right? See you later then. Bye babe."
As he was saying goodbye, I could hear a voice in the background, "Hey, lover, there you... " as the call ended.
It was like that in high school – I never went to any of the dances, and my few dates only lasted long enough for the guys to find out I wouldn't go to bed with them. College was much the same, except I kind of gave up on dating completely and concentrated on my grades. That, at least, paid off and I completed my Geoscience degree in three years at Ft. Lewis College in Durango.
I had gone on and earned my Masters in Economic Geology at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden. My area of interest, one I was passionate about, was Environmental Planning. I had lived for the last eighteen months with my Aunt Bea, a few blocks from the campus. My Uncle Hank worked at Coor's doing market research.
It was at a Coor's Christmas party that I met Gerald. He was tall and very handsome with black wavy hair. My uncle told me he was a "git" (he had been a pilot in the war stationed in England and said that git was mildly offensive word for someone you don't like). He dressed a little too flashy for me but I was terribly lonely.
I did feel comfortable with him; he never pushed me too hard for sex, saying he could wait until we were married. Now, as I was driving up I-70 towards the Eisenhower tunnel, I had an epiphany! When I first started dating Gerald, he was what we used to call a "foreigner" in high school: Roman hands and Russian fingers. One night at dinner, on our fourth date, I told him about my job offer, working on the environmental planning for an oil shale company in Grand Junction. After that he was suddenly much more patient. I was too naive to understand what he was really thinking.
As I went through the tunnel, heading for Dillon, I grimaced distastefully as I realized that Gerry was never going to change. He would keep up his womanizing even after we got married! I hardened my heart to complete what I had set out to do. I was headed for a roadside park just west of Dillon that I knew would be deserted. I didn't want to go to a place where I wouldn't be found for months – that would be too hard on my Aunt and Uncle.
Yes, this was perfect. Sometimes a trucker on a long haul might stop there for some sleep but that shouldn't pose a problem. "I'll be sleeping too," I mused. After Gerry had hung up on me I had watched the evening news with "Stormy" my favorite for doing the weather. I liked "Sunny", too, the one that did the daytime weather, but he was too optimistic. Stormy had said that with the cloud cover lifting, it was going to be very cold in the high country. At seven thousand feet, where I was, it should be about fifteen below. That would be perfect.
I saw the turnoff ahead, and slowed for the entrance. There were no cars visible in either direction this late at night. There was little chance anyone else would drive in now. I parked near the restrooms, closed of course, and sat there quietly for a moment, composing myself. Finally, I took an envelope from my purse, turned on the dome light, and read my note for the final time.
Dear Aunt Bea,
I'm sorry for what I'm doing to you. I know this will be hard for you to understand. I can't go on, I just can't.
I feel so alone, I cry at night as I try to sleep. All I've ever wanted is to be loved. To have someone to be mine, to share a life with, a house, kids, oh God... I wanted kids so bad!
Each day I'm alone. I might be in the park, watching lovers, arm in arm, giving each other that special secret smile; that smile no one has ever given me! I would watch as they put their arms around each other and shared a love I could only dream of. And I just wanted someone to want me like that.
If I could find someone, I would want that someone to kiss me, I mean really kiss me. When we were apart I would want him to miss me, his heart to miss me, tears to come to his eyes when he thinks of me... apart. That's the way I want to be loved!
But I don't have anyone to love me. I'm alone, so terribly alone. My heart knows how alone I am – and lonely right now, not tomorrow!
I want someone to say good morning as the dawn glows in the east, and to say goodnight as the last rays of the setting sun fades over the mountain peaks. I want someone that will always be mine; be there for me, for my children. Where is this someone? Where is the man God meant for me?
But he's not here. He never was here. And now... he never will, as I will be alone... forever! No, there is no one meant for me.
Oh, God Aunt Bea! It's too much for me anymore!
You and Uncle Hank are the only ones that ever cared for me,
The tears were sliding down my face, splashing on the page, running the ink in places. As I rolled the window down, the cold sweet air came wafting gently into the car, the scent from the pines heavy in the still air. I turned the dome light off. It was a clear cold night in the Colorado Mountains, twelve below and falling slowly. My mind slowly drifted to thoughts of my life... my body chilling as it became one with the coldness lurking in my heart!
Jessica was a plain girl, not by God's plan, but by her clothes, her lack of knowledge of how to present herself and from the crushing blows events in her life had dealt to her self esteem. By looking in the mirror and seeing a plain, mousy girl, she became one.
In school she never became part of one of the girlish cliques that form; rather she was always the outsider, forever being mocked and made an object of ridicule. Children can be cruel in a very ugly way and Jessica was all too often chosen as a target of that cruelty; no one stood up for her, no one befriended her.
Her parents lived on a small farm outside of Durango, a small place with the pump outside and a one-holer out back. The farm was about 500 feet higher than Durango's 6500-foot elevation and winters were harsh! Her mom made most of her clothes – what wasn't made was bought second-hand and they made her appear dowdy.
When Jessica was ten her dad disappeared; he just wasn't around anymore. She didn't say anything for a few days but finally got the gumption to ask her mom. The answer devastated what little sense of self worth she had left.
"Damn old fart! He done said he din't want no old crow of a wife and a girl kid to hold him down. He tooken off with that redhead floozy at that dance hall of Hank's. Good riddance I say!"
Jessica obsessed with the idea that her dad never wanted her! Her mom was never affectionate; many were the nights her pillow was damp with the tears slowly sliding down her cheeks – each one a testament to her sadness. Each tear lessened her expectations from life; each tear left behind a growing well of bitterness, a sense of worthlessness.
They held onto the farm, barely. By raising chickens and selling chickens and eggs, plus some sewing by both of them, they scrimped by. Jesse (as she thought of herself) began making most of her own clothes when she was fourteen. She had a sense of style but the material she had to work with was second-rate at best.
High school was better in many ways but she still suffered intense loneliness, sometimes bordering on depression. She wasn't picked as an object of ridicule anymore but she also didn't have any friends. She was never asked to go to a dance and the few dates as such were disasters. She knew she could get more dates by being "friendlier" but somehow she had developed a stubborn pride in herself... and in her own thoughts, a pitiful dream of finding that special person that God had chosen for her.
She put all her energies into her studies, taking all the advanced placement courses she could. She was rewarded by being offered a full-ride scholarship to Ft. Lewis College, including room and board. She wound up with one of the few single rooms in the dorm and was able to keep it all three years she was there. She went to summer school each year and took more than a full course load, hoping to finish early.
Once she was safely ensconced in her dorm her mom sold the farm and took off, telling Jessica," it's my time now. I've done worked hard and I'm gonna go git me some life before it be passin' me by." She took off for Tucson and Jesse never saw her again.
She had never really had fun in her life so she reasoned if she didn't expect it she wouldn't be disappointed when it didn't come. This perverted logic got her through Ft. Lewis in a never-never land of neither being happy or unhappy.
The summer after her freshman year her Aunt Bea called from Golden and told her that her mom had died in Flagstaff in a car accident two weeks before and had been buried before anyone knew what had happened. Bea invited her to visit her in Golden for a couple weeks between classes and it was so nice she did it each summer.
Jesse found in her aunt and uncle a love she had never received from anyone else but they were of an older generation and couldn't see or understand her unhappiness. When she got the scholarship to the School of Mines in Golden, her Aunt Bea insisted she live with them.
She had met Gerry and fell in love and was so happy to be loved. Her dream of a caring man and children had seemed within reach. But, then...
I just wanted... to fade away quietly in the icy darkness.
I rubbed the back of my neck trying to work out the knots formed from driving for hours hunched over, watching for slick spots on I-70; squinting through the occasional snow flurries.
"It has been a hectic trip," I mused. When my sister had called from Grand Junction about the baby I had just come off a twelve-hour shift as an intern at the Hospital at the University of Colorado in Denver. I had graduated last spring and after my internship I was moving to Grand Junction to be near my family, and to be near the open country I so loved. It was a great thought, Caleb Townsend a doctor! It did have a certain ring to it.
I'd been able to grab a couple of hours sleep before I started on the trip across the state. I had been lucky: the traffic was light and the weather was great. There were a few light snow flurries but that was nothing for my big F-250 four-wheeler. It actually belonged to the family ranch near Rifle but I had been using it all through school.
Jan had a difficult delivery but the tiny pink creature, so obviously a girl, made the trip worthwhile. I had a chance to run out to the ranch for dinner and a good night's sleep and then back to the hospital to spend some time with my sister and brother-in-law, Tad. The time got away from me and I was late heading back to Denver for my scheduled midnight shift. I stopped at Vail for some coffee and a quick steak and made sure to fill my thermos.
Back on the road, I pushed it a little but was finally getting close to Dillon; I was looking at maybe an hour and a half more driving to get to Denver. I was getting a little sleepy and it was just ten o'clock so I pulled into the roadside park I sometimes stopped at. I figured a cup of coffee and a short walk in the crisp clear air would still get me to the hospital in good time and wide awake.
There was a car there, which surprised me. I pulled next to the car on the passenger side and got out, something not seeming right! I walked around the car, seeing the driver's window down. I jerked open the door seeing a woman there as the light came on. As I put my hand to her throat I was surprised how lovely she was... an aura of childlike innocence surrounding her and her exposed skin translucently white in the cold, the color of alabaster.
I felt a thready pulse, a last gasp at life beating a sad goodbye. On her lap was what looked like a letter – instinctively I crammed in my pocket. Knowing I didn't have much time I unfastened her seat belt, picked her up and laid her across the seat of the truck. Not taking the time for the seat belt I lifted her head on my lap and started the truck, turning the heater on high. On an impulse, I jumped out and rolled her car window up.
Grabbing my cell phone I called 911, told them who I was, and asked them to alert the Vail Valley Medical Center, about twenty miles back on I-70 in Vail. It wasn't more than twenty minutes from where I was to the hospital, and I knew I could get there before the ambulance could have even arrived at the roadside park. With no cars on the road I made good time and as I pulled up to the emergency entrance, they were outside waiting for me.
When they put her on a gurney, taking her inside the hospital, I walked in with the doctor pulling duty, telling her what I knew; I didn't tell her about the car window being open. The doctor nodded and went to treat the girl for hypothermia.
A nurse pointed out a phone I could use to call my hospital. I got hold of the supervising physician and explained what had happened. She agreed to bring in one of the on-call interns and, as a result, I wouldn't have to work for three days and then it would be the noon to midnight shift.
I would be in the way while they worked on the girl so I went down for coffee. As I reached for change in my pocket I found the letter. I went ahead with the coffee and sat down to take a look at what it said.
As I started reading it, tears came to my eyes. When the nurse came down later to give me an update, the letter was folded tightly in my hands and tears were running down my face, dripping slowly onto the table. She put her hand on my shoulder, gently, and said the doctor wanted to see me.
The attending physician was waiting for me by the nurse's station, a sad look on her face.
"If you had found her a half hour later... well, it's good you found her when you did. I think she's going to lose the two outside toes on her left foot, and possibly the small finger on her left hand – it's too early to tell on that. Otherwise, I think she will be okay – I don't see any long-term problems.
I nodded, thinking. We talked it over, and agreed that when she was able, I would move her to the UC Hospital. I didn't tell her about the note, and didn't tell her that I was planning on setting up some counseling sessions with my psych prof I'd had for two classes in school. I knew what she had tried to do but, as yet, no one else did. I couldn't figure out why I had reacted this way and not said anything to the doctor.
I went in to see her for a minute before I left but she was half awake and half asleep. She looked so vulnerable, lying there on the hospital bed. My heart went out to her as I thought about that note and what her life must have been like. I left and drove on over the pass and down into Denver to my apartment.
The next morning after a late breakfast, I called Aaron Spaulding, my old prof. Aaron's brother was an long-time friend of my dad... that's how I had wound up taking Aaron's classes. We met in Aaron's office and I told him everything that had happened, showed him the note, and asked him if he would work with the girl.
Aaron looked at me solemnly for a few minutes, and said, "Caleb, I want you to think for a minute, and tell me everything you did wrong on this!"
I was quiet for a minute, not really thinking since I had done nothing but think about it, especially about holding on to the note and rolling the window up. I proceeded to tell the professor step by step, what I had done and what I should have done.
"Okay, Cal, I see you at least remembered a couple things from all those years of med school. Now tell me what you did right."
I looked at him, puzzled a minute, then enlightenment dawning, I said, "Well, I guess what I did right was everything I did wrong!"
Aaron looked at me, as proud as if I were his son. I thought at that minute I became a doctor, understanding that there was more to medicine than the science: caring for people was as important.
"Cal, a doctor is not God but neither is he a cop. Now I haven't met the girl yet, but my instincts are the same as yours are. From the note I think she is a girl that needs someone to love her, to care for her. I think she almost died of sadness, nothing else."
Sounding more formal, he continued, "Now, Caleb, what are the ethics involved in a doctor getting romantically involved with his patient?"
Struggling with that a minute, I looked down at the floor, remembering that sad alabaster face. It hit me all of a sudden.
"Well, Aaron, I do believe that means you can't take her dancing!"
"Damn, Cal! You are just too smart for me. Thanks in advance for lunch... you're buying."
We went to this great Mexican place a bit southwest of downtown Denver, right across the railroad tracks. The place specialized in Chile Rellenos; the chef deep fried them and covered them with green chile, lettuce and jalapenos. They were really great – if you liked a slice of the fires of hell for lunch! The smallest beer they served was a pint and that was called a Tiny.
An ambulance service did bring Jessica down a couple days later. Physically she was fine – she did lose her left little toe, but everything else was okay. Aaron was going to keep her in the hospital in Denver for a week, just to give her time to decompress. Her aunt was coming in to see her the next day. I talked to Aaron and he agreed with what I wanted to do.
I went in to her room as she was looking at the window, silently crying. I turned a little, looked over my shoulder and called something to the nurse in the hallway, mostly just to let her know I was there. She turned towards me and wiped at her eyes.
Looking at me, she asked, "Are you my doctor?"
A little nonplussed, I replied, "No, that's Doctor Spaulding, Aaron Spaulding. I'm the one that found you."
Looking embarrassed, she asked, "Did you find anything, a letter or something like that?
Smiling a little, I said, "No, nothing like a letter. I did find this piece of scrap paper," I waved the suicide note at her, "but it's nothing important." I grabbed a stainless steel bedpan that was on her dresser, lit the paper with a match, and dropped it into the bedpan. "No, I didn't find anything," I repeated."
Her face turned very pink, and she said, "Did you read that piece of scrap paper?"
Flushing a little, I didn't want to talk about the note yet. "I was wondering, what's a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?"
At first she looked at me like I had just stepped off a space ship. I thought, "Hell, maybe I had." This was all new territory for me.