Even though she has to make new adjustments every day in regard to her injury, Gail has proven her resilience once again in the way she has recovered. She tires easily, and it takes her much longer to recover once she reaches the exhaustion point. Once she came to terms with her limitations for the most part (her stubbornness still gets the better of her at times), she began to rebuild. After years as a nurse, helping mothers give birth, AIDS patients come to terms with their impending death, and addicts restructure their lives, she had to find a different outlet for her nurturing nature.
Mollie bears the brunt of Gail’s mothering instincts. Last year Mollie began attending public school, and Gail was not short on opinions on how her child should be educated. Both she and Deb had many meetings with Mollie’s teacher, and Gail enrolled their little girl in choir and theatre classed and other activities, which Mollie can’t get enough of.
Now Gail offers her wisdom and boundless love on a smaller, more individualistic scale to those that she meets. Her frankness and honesty can be arresting at first glance, but upon a second look it’s plain to see that a truer friend could not be found. She still has to depend on Deb now and then when her health declines, but they’ve been together so long and their bond is so deep that Deb never misses a step when by her wife’s side.
In conversation, Gail at times still has a trouble finding the correct phrasing for things. Whenever she falters, Deb seamlessly picks up where she left off. Whereas when they first got together it seemed as if Gail could almost read Deb’s mind, the opposite now appears to be true.
Now they are happily back to Deb reading Gail to sleep every night. They even began a family reading night to include Mollie in their tradition. Once a week, all three of them get together in their living room and take turns reading out loud from a book they pass around. “Most of our pleasures are pretty simple.” Deb says. One of their favorite pastimes involves heading out to the forest preserve with Mollie to count deer and enjoy the greenery. They are also attendees at a local full moon drum circle and take summer trips to a house Gail’s parents owned in North Carolina. Around the time of the Winter Solstice holiday, they take a trip to Michigan for a Madrigal dinner, an elaborate medieval feast put on by a local high school.
Even though they’ve been through “quite a bit of hell”, they have never been more in love. “The Universe knows that we have each other and that we can handle it,” Gail says with tears in her eyes.
“She’s probably one of the only people on I earth I can really be myself with and not be hiding behind a shell. She’s one of the few people I trust completely,” Deb says.
“Never gonna lie to you, unless it’s about a Christmas present,” Gail responds.
“And even then…” says Deb, laughing.
During a discussion about their relationship when Deb she was out of earshot, Gail was beaming with joy and contentment. When it was remarked on, she laughed a warm, rich laugh and said, “I’m talking about Deb, how could I not glow?”
On the topic of building relationships, Gail has this to say: “You’ve got to think of it like a garden or a lawn or a house plant. You work on it every day, you check it. If it looks a little dusty, you rub it off. If it needs a little water, you put a little water in. If something’s growing in there, you pull it out. It’s not a big deal. It takes 2 minutes. But if you let it go a week, you’re going to have to spend an hour. If you let it go two weeks, you’re going to work on it half a day. If you let it go three or four weeks, it’s gone.”
“But always examine,” Deb agrees. “Every day.”
And so they have done for the last sixteen years. The fact that they were able to find someone to spend their lives with is still precious to them. Even though they’re raising a child now, that pioneering sense of adventure is still a fundamental part of their relationship. The whimsy and excitement that brought them together is something they’re passing on to the next generation.
During the holiday season last year, they were taking a trip to downtown Chicago to see the lights the city had on display. As they were approaching the exit for Wisconsin on the way there, Deb turned over her shoulder and asked Mollie, “Do you want to go downtown and see the lights, or do you want to go to Wisconsin for cheese?” Having to think fast, Mollie exclaimed, “Wisconsin for cheese!” and Deb took the exit onto the highway headed due north. Immediately Mollie regretted her decision, but Deb replied, “Too late, baby, that was a serious choice. C’mon! It’s going to be fun!” Once they got there, Mollie quickly became a convert. Now, whenever the spark for a drive hits her, the family piles into the car and sets on the road in search of new and exciting experiences.