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Dana Rogers never experienced what love was till she met Jason Branstein. She was a bachelorette for years, and was comfortable being with her parents and single. She enjoyed her friends from church, her job and her co-workers. Dana had the personality that was very outgoing; she walked with a bounce in her step, and she was happy inside. One day all that changed, when she realized that her Papa was dying, that he would no longer be with her. She felt alone and longed for company, and for that special someone to care for her.

It was a cold, wintry day, in a small town in Pennsylvania with a river that ran through the hills, those hills that were so majestic with stories and folklore that echoed about the Seneca Indians that once inhabited the land. Dana took a break from caring for her Papa. He told her to go ahead and have some fun for the day. Dana got in her little sport's car, and headed for the local library. As she walked up the stairs; She slipped on a piece of ice and fell. A man in his middle 50's, opened the door with books in his arm. He noticed Dana on the ground.

"Oh, dear, Miss are you hurt? Let me help you up," said the man with concern.

"I am so embarrassed, I should have been looking where I was going," said Dana.

"Well, anyone can fall; especially on a slick piece of ice. I think those people at the library should know about this and get it taken care of. Oy Vey! don't they ever take care of the side walks in the winter?"

Dana was impressed with his kindness, and she looked him over, as he extended his arm and helped her up. She noticed how thin and lanky he was, but strong. His grip was warm and gentle, because of his woolen mittens.

"Thank you so much, I will be alright," said Dana

"Can I buy you a cup of coffee somewhere? Or do you want to go in the library?" said the man.

"I am returning some books, and I want to go to the computers and search on line."

"I like to do that too, but what I mostly like is to read the New York Times over the Internet," said the man.

"My name is Dana Rogers, what is yours?"

"Jason, Jason Branstein."

"I like your accent, do you come from New York?" said Dana

"I was born in Virginia, but raised in the Bronx."

They walked in the library together, and Jason went to the computers. Dana dropped off her books at the returns desk, and she followed Jason. They endulged in a long conversation about politics, injustices in the world, religion and life. Dana felt she could pour out her feelings to him, and he did the same with her. He offered her his email address, and taught her how to get one and search on the Internet. Dana was excited about learning the computer functions and liked the way he helped her.

"I better get back to Papa; he is not feeling well and is very old and sick," said Dana.

"Oh, I am sorry, I hope he gets better. Will I be seeing you again? I really enjoyed our talking and getting accquainted," said Jason.

"I did too. By the way you talk and your sense of humor, are you Jewish?" said Dana

"Yes, I am, does that bother you?"

"Not at all, I admire Jewish people. I had a dear friend once who was Jewish," said Dana.

Jason offered to walk her to the door and help her down the steps. He didn't want her to slip and fall on the ice as she did before. Dana was grateful, and she felt a warm feeling in her stomach, a feeling she could not explain. She was deeply attracted to him and wanted to see more of him. She told him she liked to write stories and poems, and would be glad to show him the next time they met. Dana told her Papa that she met the most wonderful man at the library. Her Papa told her to be careful. She had never experienced a man being really interested in her. She told her Papa that the man helped her up after she fell on the ice on the library steps. From that day on, Dana was eager to get to know more about Jason.

She even deliberately went to the library, hoping that she would find him there; so they could have a conversation. As the days, weeks and months went by, Dana became more and more attracted to Jason. She felt she was becoming almost obsessed with him. He, too, felt the same way about her. He had been hurt deeply, emotionally by women in his life. Dana found out that Jason was a man of the world, who traveled everywhere and had many women who were in love with him. Jason wanted to be cautious, but he felt a deep attraction to Dana. Many conversations followed in the library between the two of them. She shared her stories, poems, life and dreams with Jason. When he was not at the library, her heart sank, and she already missed him very much.

After long meetings, exchanging emails and cards on the Internet, Dana mustered the courage to ask him if he would like to take her out sometime, and have dinner at her favorite restaurant, The Holiday Express. Jason accepted; he was shy and wanted her to make the first move. It was a sunny, September day, and Dana's Papa looked forward to watching the Notre Dame Football game on TV. Dana was very excited about Jason coming to pick her up. Dana's Papa wanted her to be very cautious, because no man was too good for his little girl, even though his little girl was a grown woman of 59 years old!

Jason was dressed in his crisp, clean, white long sleeved shirt and fresh new denim jeans. Dana thought he was so handsome. He took her in his Mazda truck and drove them both to the Holiday Express. They both enjoyed a nice fish dinner and conversation. After dinner, Jason asked if they could walk together outside, and enjoy the pretty Autumn scenery. They walked and talked, and Dana liked that very much. Jason was so funny and made Dana laugh. He also complimented her on the way she prayed Grace in Hebrew; she did the SHEMA, Hear Oh Israel, The Lord Our God is One. Dana, also, because she was a Catholic, said Grace. He had joked about a friend of his, being a hypochondriac. Dana never laughed so much in all her life. She was so happy that day. After the date, he drove her home. Dana offered Jason in the house, and they sat down and talked. Something happened; he looked sad like something was bothering him. Dana felt compassion for him, and went over to the couch and put her arm around him.

He did not mind; she later found out from a friend that he did not like tobe touched except for someone he truly cared about. Dana thought later on that he must of cared about her deeply, because he let her touch him. Dana realized she was in love with Jason at that moment on the couch. She did not know how to tell him she was in love with him. Jason talked with Dana and her Papa, and left to go to the door.

"Thank you for a wonderful evening!" He beamed a wide smile to her. Dana felt joy in her heart, and a feeling of warmth for the new thing that was happening to her. She hoped she would see Jason again, but he never called or emailed her for a whole month. Her heart sank and she could not think of anything but him. Although she did take care of her dear Papa, and he filled her days along with her work and church, and friends. The next encounter was when Dana asked Jason to eat with her Papa and her, and to have a nice home cooked meal of spaghetti and meatballs. Jason could not waite to eat with Dana and her Papa.

They had emailed each other alot and he looked forward to seeing her. The meal was enjoyed by Dana, her Papa and Jason. She showed him her family photo albumn, and she reached out her hand to touch him, and did not know why she was so bold. He felt that she was giving him signals. He took her hand and asked her if she would like a kiss. His kiss was soft and gentle on her lips, and new waves of emotion invaded her soul and body that she never felt before. He kissed her more, and he held her in his arms. She loved the thrill of his touch. He told Dana he was crazy about her, and loved kissing her. The day outside was filled with snow drifts, wind mixed with sun. Inside was a warmth that never could be quenched. Dana knew, and Jason knew that there hearts belonged forever to one another.

He brought her books and a necklace with a heart. His truck would not start when it was time to go home, and he told her he thought God wanted him to stay with her. Dana's Papa thought that Jason cared enough about her to go all the way to the Mall in the snow storm to get her another book and gift. As the weeks and months followed, Dana and Jason saw more and more of each other.

One day, Jason told Dana that he was going to leave town, and go to Las Vegas for a job offer. Dana felt like someone had stabbed her in the heart.

"Oh no, Jason please do not go!" said Dana.

"Dana, I have to. I have to think about myself." He was afraid and did not want to get close and hurt again. He kept telling Dana of the other women who broke his heart. He told her that they had taken his heart out of his chest, and stomped on it. How dramatic that was to Dana; she thought that she would never do that.

"Jason, please do not go!"

"Let's walk outside and talk about this," said Jason.

They found a bench surrounded by pretty shrubs and flowers in front of the library. Jason was filled with love and compassion for Dana. He enclosed her in his lotus position, and wrapped his arms around her and brought her close to him. She cried in his arms and on his shoulder.

"Dana, please marry me, marry me. We can go away together."

"Jason, I can't leave Papa; he needs me. He is so sick and does not have long to live."

"Well, we can take care of Papa together."

"But where we will go, and where will we live?" said Dana. Jason looked into her eyes and wiped her tears with the side of his hand.

"Did you know that when a man loves a woman; they both can live in a card board box, and sleep on the edge of a sword? It is in the Talmud," said Jason.

"Oh, Jason, I love you so! I do not want you to go, please don't", said Dana desperately. They both did not realize that the night had become morning, and they were still in each other's arms on the bench in front of the library.

As the days went by, Dana's Papa was dying; her heart was broken. She cried every day. After leaving her Papa at the hospital; she would go back home, and Jason would take her out to make her feel better. They went to their favorite restaurant, The Holiday Express.

The night came when Dana learned of the death of her beloved Papa, Jason was there with her, and held her in his arms. He told her to cry and let go, because she seemed to him to be in shock. She cried and cried in his arms and never wanted to leave. Although, before he left, he made sure he was with Dana at the funeral. He was a Palbearer at the beautiful Mass of the Resurrection for Dana's Papa. He held her hand and sat close to her at the funeral. He hated to leave her, but had no choice. He told her he would always be in touch with her by email. She could not understand why he would not give her his physical address and phone number. Her heart was in deep sadness; she lost her beloved Papa, and her beloved Jason forever.

As the years went by; Dana learned that Jason had died. He was always sick, and complained of stomach pains, fatigue, and he lost so much weight. He told her in his emails that he learned he had Muscular Dystrophy also and Diabetes, plus the stomach cancer. Dana was unconsolable; she could not let herself believe that he was dying. Before Jason died; he wrote her a long email, and told her to live her life for the both of them, and be happy by finding a new man to fill her life and dreams. She loved him so much and could never forget the times they loved, laughed and were together. The time they sat till early morning in each other's arms, in the front of the library, was the memory she would never forget. She recalled that he told her, "If two people love each other enough, they could live in a card board box and sleep on the edge of a sword."

The End

A Love Story By Donna Kaye Rock