We met in 1998. I tried to say no – she was involved. She was also persuasive. It was a messy love – the kind where the whole community gets in the middle and has an opinion and everyone gets hurt. Especially Amy, her lover of 13 years.
Jeanne was brilliant and powerful; and sad and disabled. Her art was beautiful and evocative; so far beyond what one wall, one home, could hold. She made series after series. She sculpted, painted, molded stained glass, and did cut paper designs.
She wrote poetry onto paper she made herself – heavy, textured paper with floral pieces blended into the background. She once wrote, “Maybe it’s because I live in the city that I notice so intensely the color peeking through and around sterile structures.”
She was bipolar and suffered from fibromyalgia. She was caught in Big Pharma’s deadly grip. She was also clean and sober and no longer smoked.
She was more butch than I could ever be, building and remodeling two of her homes and an art den converted from a garage. She was also more femme – a mother of two – with a curvaceous body that commanded attention wherever she went. She had the most perfect breasts – across the nation, women admired them. I had the sweet honor of having them pierced.
She taught me the joy of submission and I her the power of domination. She taught me to cook; I taught her it was okay to love a dog like a baby. Our puppy, Gabby, lost a toenail, and here, I caught Jeanne kissing her.
She battled the blues, but laughed often. Her laughter tickled; it was light and high and giggly. She rarely got angry, except at the pain in her muscles and the sadness in her mind.
We healed each other and hurt each other. We lived together for five years… and loved more deeply than we could face. Like a hot fire, that love warmed us and, in the end, burned us. The ending was as messy as our beginning. We couldn’t stay away from each other. At the end, in 2007, she said all we had was addiction to each other. I finally left Ohio.
From the obit in the Columbus Dispatch that I found today, I learned she died last year of leukemia. Blood cancer. She was diagnosed in June and died the next month. I can’t help but wonder about Big Pharma’s part in that.
And if you can forgive the male pronoun… this song immediately came to mind when I finally allowed myself to cry:
And… another one for you, my love, who will always be young and alive in my heart and mind: