He was a big, blond Cape Breton boy who loved to scrap. The first time I met him he had a big, black shiner and scuff on his nose. I was lunching with a girlfriend when this tall, and obviously strong young man strode past our table.
“You should date him,” she said.
“Get out of here. Like I need more trouble in my life,” I said, noting the marks of a fight. And I meant it. I’d recently severed all ties with the birth father of my children and the aftershocks were rippling through my life. I had a restraining order, but even so, his poisonous words for me and the not-so-subtle threats on my life were unnerving and left me a shaking mess whenever our paths crossed.
Only a few weeks later, the Scrapper and I did connect – fate dealt the hand, I’d guess. We were drinking beers and shooting pool at the Prairie Trail Hotel and Bar in our little oil town. My girlfriend, her fiance, Scrapper, and me.
My ex showed up and caused a scene. He didn’t like that I’d left him. He didn’t like that I’d moved on. He didn’t like that I was there, with that group of people. He came up behind me, wrapped one drunk arm around my neck and began a barrage of typical insults, ‘Slut, Whore. You think you’re so fucking great. You better watch out.’
I began to cower in my chair. I wanted to run. I was humiliated. Ashamed. Frightened.
And then Scrapper was there.
His reputation for inflicting a fight and win preceded him, and he leaned into my aggressor, removed his grip from around my neck and said, ‘Hey buddy, here’s the thing. You need to fuck off. You may have been able to talk to her like this before, but not any more, now that I’m here.’
And that was it.
He won my heart.
I loved him for all the ways he protected me. I loved his size, and his strength and how safe I felt with him. I loved his passion and energy. I loved his hugs, the curves of his face and the kindness in his heart. I loved the way he made me feel small and worthy and cared for at a time when I was sick, and not safe, and frightened. I loved his fight. And he made love like he fought, with all of his energy and all of his heart and all of his body focused on that one moment, into the act … into conquering.
He was sweet and broken. And he tried so damn hard.
He died today.
He was a gift to me then. I’m sorry that I didn’t have a chance to tell him one last time that I had loved him so. I am sorry that I didn’t have the chance to love him again; to wrap my arms around him and to tell him I was thankful for his protection, his love, his passion, his time in my life; to let him know he had been loved so deeply, but that in leaving him I’d simply chosen to love myself more.
Over the last few years, I’d tried to find him through Facebook and the internet to no avail. Not a trace of my Cape Breton Scrapper. (I wasn’t brave enough to ask mutual contacts about him – out of respect for my husband of fifteen years.) And then, strange as it always is, after I received news of his death, I found pictures from last year at a family reunion with his mom and brothers. There he is, my old friend, as handsome as ever. That mischievous smile. Still looking strong.
I’m sorry for his mother’s loss and the great hole she’ll have in her life. I’m sorry his daughter is heartbroken at the loss of her daddy. I’m sorry for all the ways his life had been hard.
But I am not sorry I loved him so.
Rest in peace, and know you were important to me.