I go downstairs to meet Abe and invited him upstairs to the living room. We were finally alone. I am feeling strangely calm and at ease. The fact that I finally knew for sure that he wanted to be with me allowed me to feel tremendous relief. We are comfortably seated on the couch in the living room, the kerosene lamp flickers as its soft romantic light flows all around the room. We chat about family history for about the first hour as we inched closer and closer to each other. I can feel the heat from his body now, as our shoulders touch. He holds my hand in his as we continued to share about our lives. Our eyes meet and despite all the times I heard being said to me, No touching until you are married----about now is when that all goes out the window and we give in as we share our first kiss among kisses that lasted the rest of night. I don't want the night to end. Thinking about the night ending, feels unbearable. 12 o-clock rolled around and then 12:30, it is time to put a end to our time together, we get up and we walk outside. We hug, there is no right way to end this, there is so much left to talk about. But finally we kiss good-bye and end the date. I feel so happy. There is so much right about this, the only thing wrong is, not being together!
I felt like I could've walked out of the house and ran away with him that night if only there weren't so many hoops to jump through first! From that night on we did everything we could to be together, every chance we got. 3-4 hrs every Sunday wasn't going to cut it, in that community this was the allowed time for young couples to be together on a Sunday evening.
It was October, Abe had a cousin who was getting married in another community a couple hours away. He asked me if I want to come- of course I want too! But the hard part was convincing my parents to let me go. After the Wedding we would travel to New York with Abe's parents because Abe wanted to spend time with his family for their yearly hunting gathering. It was a tradition, they would all get together at his parents home for a week and hunt. I wanted to go so badly. I did everything I could to convince my parents to let me go. They finally agreed that I could go, on the grounds that my brother go with us too. I don't know why they thought he would help the situation. But, whatever it takes, I just wanted to be with Abe.
We went to the wedding, I didn't know a single soul there, other then Abe and my brother. It felt strange being around people I didn't know and since the men and women are not typically together in event like this, I didn't get to see Abe all day until the evening singing. The singing was over and we all got into the van that was taking us to New York to Abe's parents home. In the van were Abe's parents, his 4 brothers, two of which were married, and their wives, my brother and Abe and I. We are on our way to New York from Pennsylvania. Abe an I talked all the way, nothing mattered to me more then to be close to this man. I felt happy, safe and cared for. I've never felt this way, and it was amazing! Our love for each other was no secret, his brothers kept checking us out and making comments about the lovebird we are. We didn't care, we were in our own little world where only the two of us existed. We got to his parents home, it was late. They showed me to the room I would sleep in. I got comfortable and settled in for the night. I wondered where Abe was. I was feeling a bit alone and cold in the upstairs bedroom, It was fall and there was only one stove to heat the whole house. I hear a soft knock on the door and I go to meet Abe at the door. He has come to check on me to make sure I have everything I need. I invite him in and somehow he stays all night. I love having him with me, it feels so right, my heart tells me all is right but, in the back of my mind is fear of getting caught and the guilt of doing something that was considered by the community I lived in, the ultimate evil, sleeping together. The war within my soul is real but, I let my heart lead me on this one.
The next day I hung around the house most of the day helping Abe's mother with cooking and cleaning until later in the afternoon Abe and I decided to go for a stroll in the woods, he had grown up, roaming in. The time we spent together in the woods feels magical. I keep thinking I need to pinch myself to see if I'm just dreaming. I have dreamed about love but, nothing that compared to this. I didn't know until now that it was possible to love another human to the point that it hurts. Being with Abe has woken up a part of me that had not yet been awakened. To be this vulnerable scares the crap out of me, but at the same time it feels so insanely good! I didn't think I could live without him and we were only officially together for a little over a month.
I'm an all in, or all out type of person and this is a time I know I want to be all in. It feels scary as hell, and the mention of hell, according to what I was told, that's where I'd be going if I kept on doing the things I was doing with Abe. It almost feels like it is worth it, it feels so right. However by the end of the trip I am feeling the guilt of all that had happened between the two of us, despite the beauty of it all. I was not sorry for loving this man and letting it be known in action, but I didn't want to burn forever for it! We couldn't seem to keep out hands off of each other but the horrible guilt I would feel afterwards made me feel a tad sick at times. I wanted to run away but where to? My love for Abe mixed with the guilt that I carried made me feel so miserable, it felt like I was in chains that I couldn't break free of. I want to follow my heart, but on the other hand my mind was telling me how evil I was being and how I am disappointing my parents and disobeying the church and God by kissing, hugging and doing all the things people do when they love each other. At one point I remember asking a few of my girlfriends, how do you do it? How do you keep from doing all those things when you love someone, they looked at me and said, you just don't, you just wait. I didn't understand that language and went home feeling like there is something wrong with me! Why can't I just be like my friends who seem to have it all together and are good girls? 'I later find out that they were not so good, some of them confess in church, after they have been married for awhile.' HA!
Our love for each other is so real, so beautiful and so true. But the guilt we both carried because of not leaving our hands off of each other, took the beauty right out of our being together. The guilt became so heavy for me that I began to wonder if it was worth it anymore. Something had to change, something had to give..... I was around this time, a rumor began to surface claiming my brother and I had done the dirty, I was shocked! Who would say such a thing, and why? The most hurtful of all was that most people chose to believe it before they even gave us the opportunity to comment on it. This was around communion time. The preachers came to talk, and they decided my brother and I along with our parents were not allowed to partake in The yearly communion because of all the chis going on with the rumor about us. Put that whole thing on top of the guilt we were already dealing with and now you have a recipe for disaster! I thought I may as well confess about not keeping my courtship with Abe pure, so I just threw that on top of all the other stuff they were saying, it made me feel a bit better now that they knew and it was no longer a secret. At this point the preachers came to Abe to talk to him and they encouraged him to stop seeing me because of the whore I am. This was enough to put me over the edge. The thing they did not know is that Abe knew I was a virgin because he was the one who I gave my heart to, he was the first man I had ever kissed and given myself to. We all know the evidence is there in a very real way, when a girl gives herself to a man for the first time. Abe was not shaken by their blabbering and I was so grateful! It made me love and appreciate him even more!
So what were we going to do, we wanted to run away but we also wanted to do the right thing. We began talking with my sister who had come home again after leaving the Amish for about a year. Occasionally she would talk to us about the peace one can feel when we give our hearts to Jesus and when we ask him to forgive our sins, this was super appealing because of the burden of guilt I was carrying. I wanted peace, I wanted to be free from the guilt I was feeling. So I shared with Abe and we began talking with her for hours on end out in her living quarters above my dads shop. Then one night I asked my sister if I could be with her when she prayed because I wanted to learn how to pray. Of course she said I could. She prayed and I liked it. It made me feel nice. So I began praying and talking to Jesus. It felt so strange to talk to something or someone that I didn't really know or see. I was told to just keep praying and believing and eventually it would all come naturally, so I did, I just wanted relief. I kept doing this until I began believing it, I believed that Jesus saved me from the evil I had done. So I began feeling better and I began sharing what is happening to me, with my friends in the community. Abe and I began talking about the possibility of leaving the Amish church after we get married.
Communion came and went, I did not partake, I confessed my sins in church for not keeping my courtship with Abe pure.
We did not hold back in sharing our new found love for Jesus who had saved us from our sins. Keeping our hands off of each other was still almost impossible but we slowed it down. At this point we did not think we were going to far, we were only hugging and kissing.
The community did not appreciate that we were openly sharing our new found faith in Jesus with the young people but, we did not care, at this point we had nothing to loose, since the rumor came out and people believed it, I had nothing to loose so I kept speaking openly with the attitude, 'let them do what they will do,' I did not feel like I was harming anyone. And when you have nothing more to loose, well it is then that the giant within you becomes unleashed. It felt great to no longer hide behind the guilt!
To be continued........