Day 2: Will the REAL Craig Purcell please stand up?
This is Craig’s partner (and fiancé), K.J.
Shortly after the 90-to-40 project was conceived and the blog was started, Craig jokingly asked me if I would post on the blog at some point. Little did he know, I had already started this blog post in my head.
Over the last three months, you have all been privy to a glimpse inside the heart and head of Craig Purcell. With everything at his disposal, he has tried to be honest, genuine, and even shocking – in order to share with you some of the insights that he has arrived at over the years, or even in the moment that he is writing that moment’s post.
The purpose of this post is to give you a different point of view into Craig Purcell. He has had three months to give you an insight into him. I have one post – so this is probably going to be a long one.
Craig and I met in the midst of a terrible tragedy. Craig and I had a mutual friend, Lee. We knew of each other through this friend, but we had never spoken or communicated directly with each other whatsoever. Craig lived outside Saint Louis, MO and Lee and I were the best of friends and roommates in Arlington, TX. In late July 2011, Lee made the decision to end his life. Having no immediate family anymore, Lee left me explicit instructions on what to do after his body was discovered. I was devastated. In the next few days, with the help of several friends and my mother, I carried out his instructions to the best of my ability. Lee had left a short list of people to call. Craig was one of these. I was emotionally only able to make two or three calls a day. On day three, I made the last calls to the people on the list. Craig’s voice was warm and gentle on the phone as I told him what happened. After giving him the canned speech that I had been saying over and over for three days, he asked me ‘How are you doing?’. It was the first time that I remember someone from the list asking me that on the phone after I told them what had happened. I said that I was fine (I think), to which Craig replied that he would be on a flight and would be there for the memorial service that was planned. I didn’t know it at the time, but he sold some of his gold jewelry to pay for the airfare. After he arrived, he hugged me and stayed by my side through the whole service, keeping me company, letting me cry on his shoulder, and offering me sweet smiles of encouragement. Unconcerned with his own pain, he was completely focused on making sure that I was ok. I didn’t know it then, but it was during those moments that he captured my heart. After the service, everyone left to go home. I was petrified to stay at home alone. I sheepishly asked Craig if he would stay at my house that night, explaining that I just couldn’t stay there alone that night with everything that had happened that day. He did. We talked all night about our lives and how Lee played into our lives – who he had been years ago and who he had become at the end of his life. He told me about Saint Louis and I told him about Texas. We shared our lives with each other. We bared our souls to each other, unashamed to cry or laugh. He made me feel completely comfortable and most importantly, safe.
Over the last two plus years, I have been fortunate enough to witness things about this amazing human being that make me fall in love with him constantly.
Craig is kind. When I had finally made the decision to take two of Lee’s cats to a no-kill shelter, Craig flew down and helped me load them up and take them to the shelter. He held my hand as I cried softly, feeling that I had betrayed the trust of our dearly departed friend. When we got back to my house, he cleaned up the room those cats had destroyed; spending the next two days turning it into a new office for me. He spent his own time and money in that project, only to try to make me find peace with my decision and to fix what was a huge problem in my home that caused me significant stress.
Craig is generous. Every time he is working on a project at home or trying to down-size his material possessions, he makes the effort to separate things into clusters that get delivered to different charities – based on the services that they provide to those in need. Old door frames, cabinets, etc go to Habitat for Humanity. Clothes, shoes, blankets, etc go to Goodwill or the Salvation Army (even knowing the Salvation Army’s stance on who he is – he has told me, “it’s not about their political stances, it’s about helping people in need”).
Craig is patient. Over the last two plus years, I have been in a personal situation that has prohibited me from leaving Texas. Craig was willing to move to Texas, but after much discussion and realization, we knew that that was not the right decision – I would move to Illinois as soon as I could. It was time for me to leave Texas and expand my world. I am moving there in October, 2014. All of this time, Craig has patiently helped me overcome my fears of being in love, being completely open and honest with another human being, and has patiently been preparing a home in Illinois for us to live in. A few months after we met, he said that he knew I was the man he was going to marry and spend the rest of his life with on the day we met. A few years of waiting to completely live together was nothing compared to the thirty-seven years he had been waiting to meet me.
Craig is opinionated – and he knows it. When he feels that something is wrong, that’s it. It’s very difficult to get him to see a different viewpoint on the matter. I know that this is a survival skill that has served him well in the past and helped him avert the disasters in his life that I so readily accepted into mine. So, while this may seem like a bad thing, in reality it has been a good thing in his life, for the most part.
Craig is a child. When he is sick, he is like a three year old. It is terribly cute and endearing. And sometimes when he doesn’t think I’m looking at him, I catch him looking at something like sea turtles basking on the beach with the wide-eyed wonder of a three year old child. It is in this sweet innocence that I see the pure soul of the man that I am in love with.
Craig is perfect in all of his little imperfections. He sees the world the way it could be, always cognizant of the way the world actually is. He hopes for a better tomorrow. Not for himself, but for all living creatures. He believes in the message of Jesus Christ – that we are all brothers and sisters and our only commandment is to love each other. I see the way he looks at the living creatures on this earth and there is pure love in his eyes.
Craig is a man that makes me want to be better than I am. Craig is a man that I learn from daily. Craig is the man that makes me want to get healthy again, just so I can live longer and be blessed enough to look into his soul as long as I possibly can.