Love is such a small, simple word, but what it entails is far from small or simple. I have always felt love for Peter Garth Lafavor. He is my best friend, the center of my world, and my future. In fact, I do not remember a time when I wasn’t in love with Garth. As children, we would spend every spare minute with each other, sharing secrets and playing in the yard or the creek. When Mama would make me come in to do chores or eat with the family, I thought about Garth and what we would do together the next day. I loved Garth, and he loved me the same. I am quite sure of this. The years flew by, and before I knew it, Garth was giving the high school graduation speech. The previous years had been filled with romance, friendship, and fun. We did absolutely everything together. We had all the same friends, the same ideas, and the same feelings for each other. Garth was, and still is, what my world revolves around.
At first, when Garth left for the University, I had no doubts that his feelings were as sincere as mine. After I visited him the first time, however, I could tell that he was changing. He was not the same kind, soft Garth that I had once known. Despite the changes, I found myself still in love with him. There was nothing Garth could do to make me love him any less. I only worried that my lack of intellect and schooling would lead to him loving me less. Questioning his feelings is not something I enjoyed. Although I didn’t let on to Garth, I constantly worried that he would find someone better and more intellectual than me. Night after night, I tossed and turned in my bed, unable to turn off the worry, the confusion, and the doubt. All I ever wanted was to be his woman and to take care of him, but I could not help but wonder if he was still feeling the same way. Finally, I gave myself to him. We made love for the very first time, and it was more than I ever dreamed it would be. I had been saving myself for only him, and he is the only one I would ever be with in such a way. I explained to Garth that I am not interested in learning more about the world. All I want is to belong to him. I thought that after he was finished at the University, we could finally be together. I was wrong.
Garth moved to Birmingham after his college graduation because he wanted to make enough money before marrying me. He landed a reporting job at a newspaper and seemed to be very excited about it. I encouraged him, and I gave him my full support. All the while, I was trying to understand that it was not the right time for us to be together. Birmingham, in my opinion, was a busy, crowded, frightening place. It certainly did not fit the home life I was used to; however, Garth seemed to adjust very well to the move. Maybe it was because of his experiences at the University that he was so adjustable to the city life. Despite being jealous of the city, I was very proud of Garth; I waited for the day that he would come back to Hartselle. I visited when he asked, and I stayed at home when I knew he was busy. The visits were absolutely wonderful. I always missed him so much while we were apart. Garth knew how to make me feel special when I was there. He would take me out to dinner and to see the city. Our nights together were spent tangled up in Garth’s sheets, holding on to a love I so desperately wanted for the rest of my life. I could feel Garth continuing to change in the way he saw the world, and I convinced myself to do whatever I had to do to keep his interest. Whatever Garth needed, I would give to him. No matter how much he changed, I would be his Cherry. I would look into his eyes as he looked back into mine, and I knew that despite all of his many changes, the one thing that would never change is the love for me that shone through his eyes.
On my twenty-third birthday, I became Cherry Lafavor. Garth and I held our wedding at my home in Hartselle. It was more beautiful than I ever dreamed it would be; decorated with lilies and smilax. I knew that whatever changes Garth went through at the University did not matter now because he was mine and I was his, and that was something that would never change. All of my doubts and fears were gone. I was done waiting for Garth Lafavor. Now, I would not have to visit Garth for a few days, and then go back home and painfully wait on him to invite me again. I would live with him and be his loving wife. Garth looked very handsome that day. He was dressed in a new tailored gray suit that made him appear much older than he really was. I was proud to show him off to my friends from Mary Scott College for Women. They all thought he was my perfect mate. I had been Garth’s girl since I was ten years old, but on that November day in 1935, I became Garth’s woman.
After our wedding, Garth drove us back to Birmingham to a quaint, little apartment he had rented. Garth, being such a gentleman, carried me over the threshold of the main entrance, as well as our apartment door. Being held in his arms made me feel unbelievably safe and secure. I could not have been happier with anyone else. Garth was a man who would take care of me until my final days; I could feel all of this through the ways his arms held my delicate body. We both agreed that our marriage was going to be the best years of our life; whereas, we had previously thought that it would never get better than our high school years together. Marrying Garth Lafavor was my greatest accomplishment. It was something I had waited for almost my entire life, and now I could finally be at peace.
Almost two weeks before expected, I went into labor with our first child, Peter Garth Lafavor the Second. Garth was gone to report on an Anti-Sedition Act that was being voted into legislature. He never really spoke much about what he reported on, but the few times he did, I could see in his eyes that he was almost as confused about the situation as I was. The hospital I was taken to that night was almost a hundred miles away from Garth. I was worried that he would never make it in time. The labor pains increased, and I pushed as hard as I could to bring our baby boy into the world. I had been carrying this child for almost nine months and could not wait to introduce him to his father, the man I loved more than anything. Finally, after hours of labor, our child was born. Excitement filled my body until I realized that I had not heard a sound from my baby. I could tell something was wrong by the looks upon the doctor’s and nurses’ faces. It came upon me in the form of a wave of nausea, my baby was dead. Garth’s child was dead. Our very first child would never meet his dad; he would never wake us up in the middle of the night; he would never learn of our small town way of life; he would never love us the way we would, undoubtedly, always love him. The doctor put me under an anesthetic as I drifted off into a deep, sorrowful sleep. Garth still was not there.
The following weeks after the incident were almost unbearable. Not only had we lost our first born child, but Garth had also lost a dear friend from college. The sad, awkwardness between us was more than I knew how to handle. I didn’t know what to say to Garth. What if it was my fault that our baby died? I hope he didn’t blame me, even though I couldn’t help but blame myself. Neither one of us had to mention it, but there was something in the atmosphere that screamed fear of ever having another child. Garth’s family came to Birmingham to help comfort us in the wake of our loss. At the funeral, all I felt was sadness taking over my body. Garth would barely even look at me. I knew that this would be something that would change our lives forever. Losing our child would never completely leave our minds, thoughts, and especially our hearts.
As the weeks continued to creep slowly by, I could feel Garth pulling away when I needed him the most. I had no idea how to help him through this difficult time in his life, when I was also experiencing pain that I had never felt before. It seemed as though Garth was not at peace with his own mind; he never slept through the night and wouldn’t eat but a small amount of food each time I cooked. It was almost as if he stopped believing in anything. The realization set in that I could give him all the love in the world, but I could never give him the understanding he needed to reach in order to be happy with himself. Eventually, he told me he was going away. I could not even pretend to understand why he needed to leave me. I needed him more than ever at this point; I could not survive this horrible, heart-wrenching pain without his hand to guide me. I wanted so desperately to follow him, wherever he was going, but he refused to let me. That hurt almost as much as him leaving in the first place. I wanted only to be his woman, to provide for him, and to make him a happy man. How could I do that if he wanted to leave? The day we closed the apartment, I literally felt my heart rip out of my chest. Garth would take it with him, even if I couldn’t accompany him on his journey. Tears of utter heartbreak spilled from my already swollen eyes. Crying was something I had grown used to lately. Nothing I could say or do would make Garth stay with me. I know because I tried. I finally realized that if I really loved him the way I thought I did, I would have to let him go and find himself. He could never love me if he didn’t love himself first. It was then that I reached the understanding that love, although seemingly short and simple, entails many things. It is complicated and larger than life. I had always felt love for Garth and now, I would have to prove it.
I would simply have to do what I had been doing since the end of high school. I would have to wait on Peter Garth Lafavor.