More Than Life Itself
Diane Stark (McConnell) Sanfilippo

Chapter 7

Our Honeymoon

When I awoke the next morning, I am not sure if I expected to see changes in the reflection of the young woman who glanced back at me from the mirror. If so, I would have been disappointed.

Yes, she looked happy, yes; her complexion glowed with the excitement of being a newlywed, or was that the effects of the hormones that were rapidly changing as my body prepared a nest for the still finger-sized fetus? The disappointment would have been that marriage had not changed the reflection at all. I was still the same, but perhaps this was for the best since we had decided to try and keep our secret so I could finish the year living in the dorm, if I did not begin to ‘show’ too soon. We were not even going to tell our families until the end of the school year, so all I could do was pray the ‘news’ would not spread through campus, and I vowed to tell no one, not even Lucia.

We wanted to have our own home, and to be able to assure our families we could handle ‘grown-up’ responsibilities, especially Gene, Billy’s father, who did not have the confidence in his first-born son that I had. Then again, he could not possibly know what Billy could do when he was ‘on his own’.

The very first order of business, just before the term was finished, was for me to find a job in Gainesville since I knew both of us could not go to school, and one had to work so the other could graduate. It made absolutely no sense for Billy not to continue since he was two years ahead of me. He also had summer camp, which was six weeks during which not only could he not work, but also we would be apart. The last reason was the reality of the draft if he did not continue his education, and better an officer than having to start all over again.

That diploma might have been secondary, but was essential for him to be commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. It was not even reasonable to think about him dropping out. We both knew the commission was his ultimate goal, and I promised myself I would be the perfect Army officer’s wife. However, we both felt strongly about proving our ability to support ourselves, and did not need, nor would we accept, any sustenance from his father, and mine certainly would not offer.

Next, we would have to find an apartment, and Billy was not excited about living in the small wooden WWII trailers in ‘Fertile Valley’, the hollow below campus. Rather he wanted to find something larger and better. Frankly, I did not care where we lived as long as we were together.

The absolute first order of business though was for Billy to secure a National Defense Student Teachers loan to pay for his tuition for the next year since we would not have to begin repayment until three years following graduation IF he remained in the service, and of course, that is what he planned. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out that way.

Just as soon as classes were finished on Saturday morning, with both of us signing out to ‘home’, Billy drove to Atlanta hoping we could find a reasonable room at a motel and spend an entire weekend together, in bed! This, we knew would be the only honeymoon we would have for the time being, but the excitement of spending the night in his arms was almost more than my heart could bear. I had never been with him for an entire night, nor even made love in a bed, except for the one time in Griffin, and that night I was too nervous to enjoy it. The last thing on either of our minds was ‘home’, we were going to have a honeymoon, regardless how brief, regardless how expensive. Just one entire night, and a day and half to be in each other’s arms. The chances of our parents trying to get in touch with us at the college was almost unrealistic since I never went home, and Billy’s parents had now accepted he would not be home either. With this in mind, we felt safe in our first adventure as man and wife.

Billy drove along Northside Drive until he found a small, clean motel not far from downtown Atlanta, with the ‘vacancy’ sign shining bright red even in the midday sun. He parked near the front office and went inside to check in, marriage license and certificate neatly folded in his billfold. When he came back out to the car, looking a bit sheepish, he told me he had been so nervous he signed the register ‘Billy McConnell and wife’ rather than ‘Mr. And Mrs. William E. McConnell’! Now I knew I was not the only one affected this way, and I was practically quivering in my shoes, as if I still could not believe we really were married!

Always the romantic, Billy had even thought to bring his stereo and some Johnny Mathis long-play albums; all very romantic ‘mood’ music that included what was to become one of our songs, ‘The Twelfth of Never’. Parking in front of the room, excitedly I clutched my small overnight case and wished I had a lovely peignoir, filmy and see-through, but when I mentioned it to Billy, he assured me I would not have it on long enough to make any difference - that all I needed to bring was my ‘birthday suit’. He had brought only a change of civilian clothes and clean underwear, so carrying only the stereo he unlocked the door to our ‘honeymoon suite’.

As soon as we entered the tiny room, which was immaculately clean, he shut the heavy door behind us and immediately pulled the heavy drapes closed. We were instantly in each other’s arms, kissing and rubbing against each other, as cats are prone to do. Finally Billy set up the stereo and with Johnny Mathis crooning in the background he slowly began to undress me, which he said he had been wanting to do since he first laid eyes on me, and which he assured me he had done in his mind more times than he could count.

Brashly I began to loosen his tie and unbutton his stiff khaki shirt, only having seen this done in the movies. We had never seen each other completely naked since during our trysts at the Copper Mine we always prepared for instant retreat if necessary, and I did not know quite what to expect. I was surprised when I found his chest almost bare of hair, I think I counted four or five hairs, and I had always thought all men had hairy chests. Later this physical state became a joke with us, and Billy would sometimes tell me he thought he had grown a new hair, and I would dutifully count those that were there, only to assure him he had miscounted, again. In my mind that made up for my lack of breasts, although he was kind and never said a word about my rosebuds, but then again this was not a surprise to him, although I always knew that he still wished for more.

When he loosened his belt buckle and I unzipped his pants, thinking how clever I was, and they fell to the floor, I was stunned to see two huge vertical scars on his abdomen. Now these were not small scars but about twelve inches long or more, gnarled and thick, and one looked more recent than the other did. He must have read the look in my eyes; he always said he could, and he told me this awful story about how by a jealous boyfriend had slashed him with a knife. Then, as my eyes grew even wider and wider, he finally roared with laughter. He measured my shock and paused in his ‘story’, but he loved to tease and joke with me, and I was so gullible I bought into everything he said and did. However, this time he could see I was becoming upset. Who could have done something so mean to my darling Billy? I was horrified at the thought anyone would harm him. Finally, as the tears began rolling down my cheeks, he held me his arms, told me the real story of how he got the scars from an injury as a child, and how he had emergency exploratory surgery.

When he was about six years old, he had been riding in a pony cart in front of his grandmother’s house when a car full of teenagers drove by, honked the horn, startling the pony who then bolted, cart and all, and Billy was thrown out onto the pavement. There had been tense hours at Crawford Long Hospital while surgeons could not diagnose why they seemed to be losing him, obviously to internal bleeding. Fearing a kidney or a liver tear, they opened him up, thus the two long scars, and finally found his spleen had ruptured, and they removed it. As children so often do, by the next day, still a very sick little boy, he wanted to go home, although he had to stay there until the surgeon removed his stitches. Later, his mother told me more of the story and how everyone they knew had been praying he would live, and how close they came to losing him, and that made him even more special to me. She also told me he bounced back rapidly and had become quite the handful by the time of his discharge, thoroughly spoiled by family and nurses alike.

Surely, God had saved him just for me, and I thought he was beautiful, chest hair or no chest hair; scars or no scars, I loved every inch of him. He was a bit on the thin side, and I had learned some of his strange eating habits, but I knew once we found an apartment, I could take care of that problem rather quickly; at least I hoped I could. First, I would learn how to prepare his favorite dessert, lemon meringue pie with sweetened condensed milk and fresh lemons. I had several times seen him eat almost an entire pie in one evening! Surely too I would teach him how to enjoy fresh vegetables, but little did I know I was biting off more than I could chew on that subject.

After the scar incident and explanation, I then took a longer look at my handsome husband and thought to myself that he had an extremely large penis. Then again, I had never really ‘seen’ his before, or that of any grown man, only the ‘dolollies’ of my younger brothers. Little did I know that according to the ‘norm’, he was large, or commonly called ‘hung’, which would make for many pleasurable hours both under and on top of the sheets. I must have stared at it a bit too long and he laughed as he asked if I had not ever seen a nude man, but all I could do was shake my head, much to his delight. Yes, he had definitely married an immature, naïve, completely innocent ‘babe in the woods’, and he liked me that way. Now he could be my ‘teacher’, mold me in the way he wanted, and I had a feeling that lesson #2 was about to begin!

Completely naked we now pulled down the bedspread and cuddling between the sheets, we explored each other’s bodies as never before using both hands and lips. I learned each freckle and mole, each scar, each hair, and he did the same. Finally fully aroused, we spent the next three hours making love, slowly at first, while Johnny Mathis continued to croon in the background. As we made love over, and over again, and continued to explore, our love became more passionate and more desperate as if we could not get enough of each other. I knew I could never have enough of, or tire of making love to my new husband, my darling Billy.

Still fascinated by his scars, and the fact one looked so recent, when I asked, he told me he had had surgery twice more on the thicker scar on his right side. The second time had been when on a trip out West with his paternal grandparents, his appendix ruptured, and instead of taking him to a local hospital they drove him back to Griffin. By then he had peritonitis and again had almost died. Finally, at the beginning of the second quarter of his freshman year at North Georgia, he began having severe abdominal pain, and the college nurse thought his problem was simple impaction from all the heavy food, and had given him an enema. The pain increased, intolerably, and she finally called his mother. The enema turned out to be the worst treatment possible since he had adhesions, which meant more surgery after his mother drove up to the college and took him back home. He had to miss the 2nd quarter, which was one reason he was taking more than the usual hours of classes, but still with all the classes he had dropped failing and those he had failed, he had not made up much ground and was almost a full quarter behind the class of 1962. Again he had almost died, and again I just knew he had been saved for me, and now I knew too why he was so very special. He should not even be here, and yet he was and I was in his arms, and I was his wife!

I had not known he was behind the rest of his class, but we both would learn more and more about each other as we continued to explore and to talk. I felt as if God had saved him three times, saved him just for me, and I loved him even more for his scars and his surgeries.

As I slowly ran my finger down each one, tears began to roll down my cheeks as I thought about how close he had come to dying. From that day on whenever he was hurt or had any kind of pain, my heart would break and the inevitable tears would follow. Billy, moved and astounded that I cried over his old injuries, said no one had ever loved him enough to cry, although I was not so sure about that. All I knew was that I never wanted to live life without him, I loved him ‘more than life itself’ and I always would.

Surely, with all of his bad luck, he was due for something good, and I wanted to be that something, or at least I hoped he would think so. I knew I would do anything in my power to take care of him and keep him from harm, and if necessary, I would lay down my own life for him. He then assured me he would do the same for me as I told him some more about the insanity in the house where I grew up. He promised me no one would ever hurt me again, not as long as he had a breath in his body. Oh, such promises from two such youngsters, but for the first time in my life, I felt really safe – safe and loved. Although not clad in shining armor or riding a white horse, but wearing the uniform of a North Georgia College cadet, and driving an old Ford, my knight had finally rescued me.

That evening, our lust momentarily satisfied, and our bodies exhausted, we splurged on a steak dinner with money Billy had received from his father, and then we went to Lowe’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta to see a special ‘anniversary’ release of ‘Gone with the Wind’.

The movie had premiered at Lowe’s with Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, Olivia DeHavilland, Margaret Mitchell, the author, and the other stars attending, and for one night, the ‘glitz’ of Hollywood visited Atlanta. At that time, it was still a small sleepy Southern town and not the metropolis of the south that it is today. The first ‘grown-up’ book I ever read was ‘Gone with the Wind’.

By 1961, I had read the book at least six times, and with each reading, I discovered something new. I actually felt a kinship with Scarlett now since I was desperately in love, but unlike Scarlett, I had married my passion; now all I had to do was keep him! In the darkened theatre, Billy kept his arm possessively around my shoulders while I rested my head on his. He wiped my tears when I cried, even kissed them off my face. He then surprised me when he kissed me a few times not caring what anyone nearby may think, but knowing that afterwards we had ‘our’ room and could spend the rest of the night once again making love with Johnny Mathis singing just for us.

"You ask how much I need you, must I explain?

I need you, oh my darling, like roses need rain.

You ask how long I’ll love you; I’ll tell you true;

Until the Twelfth of Never, I’ll still be loving you.

How perfectly the words of the song explained my feelings for my Billy, my husband, my darling, and I wished I had the ability to put into words how much I loved him. I certainly could not sing since that talent extended only to the male members of my family, so in the meantime Johnny Mathis would have to sing for me, his voice soothing, almost a whisper, and far finer than my own.

Never had I felt so completely safe and so completely loved, and I knew I would never again awaken to the chaos of alcohol-induced quarrels as so often happened in that house of horror where my parents reigned supreme. I now not only felt loved, truly loved, but worthy of that love and I knew that never again would there be even one moment I would not love Billy McConnell. He assured me he felt the same and promised he would always take care of me; we would have a safe and happy home where our children would always know they were respected and adored.

This was a large part of the magic. We both wanted what neither of us had while growing up, the security that two loving parents offer without the intrusion of alcohol and infidelity. I discovered he needed to love me, and for me to love him just as much as I did, and we promised each other our home would be as perfect as possible. A home where our children could bring their friends, where I would bake cookies, prepare perfect meals, keep a spotless and carefree shelter for us all, and he would work hard towards a successful career in the Army.

The idea of moving all the time was not a problem for me since I had done so when my father was in the Navy, far more than usually required. We could do this, we knew we could, but first we needed just a little more time, and we would have to sacrifice being together for the moment so eventually everything could be perfect.

We fell asleep in each other’s arms that night for the first time, since we had always had to part by curfew, but now I was exactly where I had longed to be from that fateful day we found the copper mine. I look back and wish I could have stopped time, right at that moment, in that small plain room, and slept in his arms forever.

Sated with lovemaking, and exhausted, we fell asleep and neither of us lost a moment of rest worrying about our future. We had it all worked out, and tonight was all that mattered, at least for now.

Sunday morning I slowly awoke to Billy’s tender kisses as his hands softly teased my breasts arousing in me the desired effect. Once again, unhurried and passionately we made love over, and over. Our grand adventure this weekend had been the beginning of my discovery of the wonders of orgasm without fear of discovery, while Billy took me soaring into the sky with him, higher than I had ever been, and then he brought me back down again with love, and a longing for more.

Never did I look at him in the same way again, but I always remembered how I had felt as he took me to the moon and back. With this one ability he had proven he had a power over me that would never let go, and I was mesmerized, hypnotized and ever so deeply in love. He knew all of the words I longed to hear, and others I had not known I longed to hear, and as he whispered sweet promises into my ear, he gently caressed and suckled my breasts, all the while bringing me to the height of ecstasy. He taught me about oral sex which at first disgusted and appalled me, but when he took me to even greater heights, beyond the moon into the vast universe I had a change of mind. I just could not bring myself to reciprocate. Years later, I would deeply regret I could not return his ardor in this manner, but I could not get past the sticky and nauseatingly musky odor of semen.

By now, I knew that women did not produce it as I had thought the very first time, but knew this was the very essence necessary to produce life, and men ejaculated each time they made love. I just could not get beyond it, as much as I loved him, I just never could, and I never did. Of course, that did not stop Billy and he continued to assure me it was not as bad as I imagined, and he kept trying to entice me to try just once, but I could not. That weekend I came close, but it was not to happen, not then, not ever. Now that I am older, wiser, and far more mature, at least I hope so, I believe I would do anything to please him, if I could spend just one more moment in his arms, this man I loved more than life itself.

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