Daveed was first her childhood crush, then her high school sweetheart, next her college love, and throughout their courtship, he became her world; her veritable everything.
In her innocent youth, she had indulged in fantasized certainties that are promised to none; eternal, infinite love and a marriage that would be the envy of all her friends; a supportive, nurturing husband constantly by her side, and she his unfailing font of more, ever increasing, in return.
Prompted by high school girlfriends, on a lark she had looked up the meaning of his name:
Pronunciation: (DAY vid); (da VEED)
Form of: Itself (David)”
Following which, she teased him mercilessly calling him beloved, especially in front of a crowd. Though he would punch her softly on the arm and wink, he never seemed to mind.
When left to her own devices, she scrawled his name and the meaning in her notebook as artfully as she could:
In later years, the scrawl became:
“Daveed, my beloved.”
Even then, in her wildest, naïve dreams, she hadn’t a clue that he would become so much more to her than that. God himself could not have predicted the breadth, depth, and magnitude of what was to come.
In her first and second year of college, Kalista was timid, fearful, and at times, outright terrified of what and how deeply he made her feel. Daveed had worked long and hard to win and keep Kalista’s heart his own; loved, cherished, encouraged to grow, yet protected.
She was his hard-won prize when she finally accepted the certainty of him and their fantastical future together. Reward to both was their full and open hearts, his consistency of unwavering devotion, and her will to constantly, ever-presently, renew their love threefold.
Neither could let the other down. They were only one together. Theirs was a love so deep and strong it was the stuff of fairy-tales, which they happily lived daily. She was the air that allowed him to breathe freely and drink in her unending supply of love and affection. He was her earth, her rock, her reality-touchstone in times of trial, despair, success, and ecstatic happiness. They grew to share more than any married couple they knew.
Though they resided in separate dorms in college, Daveed waited outside, on the sorority steps, each morning while Kalista dressed hurriedly, donning any clothes that would make him proud to call her his girl. Invariably, she skipped breakfast to be in his arms as quickly as possible. It was all the sustenance she could ever want or need.
Several weeks prior to his graduation, her third year of college, he had gifted her with a choker collar so beautiful she couldn’t believe her eyes.
On a day like every other day, she had rushed out the door to greet him, but found him in a tumultuous mood. She gathered that he was troubled, possibly torn about something, and caught her breath. Daveed took her hand gently, tugging her with him, saying, “We need to talk. Let’s go someplace more private, most beautiful one.” It was his pet name for her. Kalista hadn’t a clue that Daveed had done the same as she, in looking up the meaning of her name.
Immediately, her face was deeply grooved with concern and a little fear, though she complied responding, “Of course, my beloved.” Kalista looped her arm through his and he led the way through patchy woods to a bench long ago forgotten. Daveed explained his acceptance to medical school in another state. She looked deep into his eyes then, with torrents of pleas that lodged in her throat.
In that moment, she couldn’t breathe or speak. She felt as though air and gravity had suddenly ceased to exist. Daveed retrieved a box from his pocket, pulled a gorgeous choker from it, and placed it around her neck declaring, “I claim you. Wait for me, my most beautiful one. We’re worth it. You know we are. We will marry and be the one couple who does live happily ever after. You’re my destiny,” he whispered, and paused to see tears welling in her eyes; a look he never wanted to be the cause of.
He pulled her into an embrace that spoke of never wanting to let her go, and continued, “I want to provide for you as a husband should. Please wear the choker. It’s our acknowledgement that we are the key to each other; that we hold the key to our future together. It’s engraved beneath with our initials inside locked hearts.”
To Kalista, his words were elation, as much as devastation to the world they had created and lived in together for so long. It was the proposal she had longed for and exile to a life that she couldn’t possibly begin to bear.
For a moment, she clung to him for dear life and then pushed him away. She sprinted deeper into the woods, running as fast and hard as she could, trying to outrun the wailing scream that threatened to shatter the earth around her, just as her heart had shattered in the space of a breath.
She stood there alone, bereft, her world shredded, letting racking sobs, and small screams escape, until dizziness forced her to sit down on a patch of dead leaves fallen from the trees. Nothing mattered anymore. She felt as dead as the leaves crackling beneath her. Kalista stayed all day, grasping the key on the choker, not possessing the strength to return to campus. A life less her everything was too frightening to contemplate.
When she finally did return, she took cautious comfort in her sorority sisters. She let weeks of classes pass unattended while all she could do was weep. They approached tentatively, keeping her abreast of classwork and social functions, in small doses.
Understanding her need to grieve, they comforted and cajoled her back to functioning somewhat normally, and then worked to help her catch up with term papers and responsibilities. Barring time for her to sleep, they took shifts, working around the clock to beef up her fallen grades, just to enable her to stay with them.
Through years of study and infrequent letters to and from her beloved, she could not remove the choker. It was all she had left of the beauty that was them. It had become her darkest despair and highest hope though, in her heart of hearts, she felt there was no hope.
By her own graduation day, she knew she owed her sisters a huge debt of gratitude never realizing that hers was such a giving heart, there was never a need to feel indebted. Many times, she had done the same for them without a single thought for herself. Her debt was repaid long before she ever needed to indulge in their many kindnesses.
On graduation day, Kalista removed the choker from her throat and mailed it back to Daveed with a note tucked inside that simply read, “Best to you, beloved – always.”
Now, thirty-three years and one failed marriage later, she brought the mail back to her apartment, as she had on every other typical day. It wasn’t bills or letters that made her catch her breath. She held a box that she unwrapped hurriedly. Inside, was a familiar choker collar with a note that read, “Most beautiful, missed you at the reunion. Drinks?”
Suddenly, air and gravity ceased to exist…