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I was eighteen when my grandmother's illness had progressed. She had lost her toe to gangrene and by the time I was 19 she had lost both legs.

It was at 19 that the church denied the union between MR. Sunshine and myself. It was meant to play out that was I suppose. In hindsight, they did us both a favor.

I was eighteen when it was time to take the SAT's. My mind was consumed with worry and doubt. Would my grandmother be able to beat this? How would she deal with her growing frailty?

She was a strong, proud woman. Would she be able to lean on those around her for strength? Would I be able to show her how much I loved her by allowing her to show weakness in front of me?

The thoughts consumed me and my every waking moment. Mr. Sunshine tried to offer me comfort telling me that our Lord would see her through this. Why would he see her through this? She had refused to convert.

She told me that she was born a Catholic and she would die a Catholic and that she would rest on her own faith. How could he sit here holding my hand and feed me lies?

The SAT results proved that my lifelong dream of attending the University of Los Angeles would now be just that, a dream. I scored average. It was not enough. I wasn't good enough. It would seem that this was my future.

Community College was where I would be headed. Oh, how far had I fallen. I had gone from having everything to having nothing in just a few short years. It would seem that in my attempts to become a better person I had only done two things.

One, I'd pushed away all of the people that could have helped me achieve greatness, and two, discovered that I am incapable of changing. A zebra doesn't change its stripes.

Mr. Sunshine got accepted into a pretty good school in NYC and I knew even before the driving incident that there was no longer any semblance of love in my heart for him. Eventually, our paths would part. That had only been affirmed when they denied our request to become an official couple the following year.

He would have his own ministry and I would have mine. After the denial of our union and the license thing what we had begun to unravel.

He had begun to distance himself from me and it didn't bother me at all. After failing his third attempt I think a part of him hated me. It didn't take long for our relationship to falter. My grandmother passed that same year and with her passing, the turmoil inside of me grew.

Mr. Sunshine wasn't a beautiful man but he had beautiful eyes. His eyes had found a way to captivate me. His gentleness at one time had eased the ache in my heart. The way he looked at me made me feel loved.

He made me feel as though I was the only person in the room. A part of me missed his gentle touch as his fingers laced through mine. A part of me missed his scent. When he pulled me in close to him his cedar and cinnamon scent invaded my nose and made me feel both comfort and warmth.

I would miss the way his large nose ran along the arch of my neck as he gently laid kisses there. He was always careful not to kiss my lips. He wasn't allowed to kiss my lips. It was the churches decree and we respected the rules.

He kissed my face and kissed my neck. He would lay gentle kisses down my shoulder and my arms and kiss each finger slowly while he stared at me with those beautiful eyes of his. My breath would hitch in my throat and my insides pooled with warmth.

My legs trembled under his kisses and my core turned to fire. His eyes, they were so heated and filled with a yearning that told me he desired me as much as I desired him.

Maybe more, I could never be sure. He would always stop himself as he drew his face so close to mine that our lips almost touched.

"My God, you are so beautiful." he would say as he pulled away from me.

As he pulled away the warmth left with him and all that remained was the ache in my belly. He struggled to leave but when he left my home felt cold and empty again.

Even as I felt us grow apart I still held onto the memory of our shared moments. Our paths would diverge. Neither of us would fight the changing of the guard. Our story would end, not with a bang but with a whimper.

After my grandmother's passing, I questioned everything. The loss had shattered my faith. The scriptures offered me comfort but also twisted me inside. There were too many contradictions.

There were too many different ways to understand the words. What one story told was in stark contrast to another and I believed it all. Could it be that the church had it wrong and that it didn't matter if you were a member of the church?

Was it possible that God would forgive anyone who came to him and asked for forgiveness? Reincarnation, where the scriptures reference living so many lives and talk about how everyone would have an opportunity to know Christ. Does it mean that got to keep trying until we get it right? What was the truth? I didn't know anymore. There were too many questions.

My grandmother was gone, the one person who loved me unconditionally. The one who never closed her door to me. The one who tried her best to take care of me. She was gone and I needed to know that she was in Heaven waiting for me but she wasn't a member of the church. She wasn't a member...

My faith shattered.

I was lost.

Hopeless.

Alone.

It was time to move on. I never told him I was leaving and he never asked. I closed the door without so much as saying goodbye. Like a dog returning to eat my own vomit, I was shunned.

If I have to enter the pearly gates without her, I'd rather not go.

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Author's Note: Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Updated 2 February 2019

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