Leestip: het prachtige verhaal van Bobby en Cheryl Love
Het Instagramaccount Humans of New York laat al jaren de meest bijzondere ‘gewone’ mensen zien uit New York. Zo ook Bobby en Cheryl Love.
Een paar jaar geleden werd het echtpaar, dat ruim veertig jaar getrouwd is, onaangenaam verrast door een bezoek van de politie. Bobby Love werd in de boeien geslagen en moest mee met de politie. Het gebeurde tot de grote verbazing van zijn vrouw Cheryl. Voor zover zij wist, had haar man nooit de wet overtreden.
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(1/11) “It was just a normal morning. Almost exactly five years ago. I was making tea in the kitchen. Bobby was still in bed. And we get this knock on the door. I opened it up slowly, and saw the police standing there. At first I wasn’t worried. We had this crazy lady that lived next door, and the police were always checking up on her. So I assumed they had the wrong address. But the moment I opened the door, twelve officers came barging past me. Some of them had ‘FBI’ written on their jackets. They went straight back to the bedroom, and walked up to Bobby. I heard them ask: ‘What’s your name?’ And he said, ‘Bobby Love.’ Then they said, ‘No. What’s your real name?’ And I heard him say something real low. And they responded: 'You've had a long run.' That’s when I tried to get into the room. But the officer kept saying: ‘Get back, get back. You don’t know who this man is.’ Then they started putting him in handcuffs. It didn’t make any sense. I’d been married to Bobby for forty years. He didn’t even have a criminal record. At this point I’m crying, and I screamed: ‘Bobby, what’s going on?’ Did you kill somebody?’ And he tells me: ‘This goes way back, Cheryl. Back before I met you. Way back to North Carolina.’”
Toch had de politie het bij het rechte eind. Bobby Love was namelijk niet de echte naam van de man van Cheryl. Bobby werd geboren als Walter Miller en raakte in zijn tienerjaren op het slechte pad.
Nadat hij voor de tweede keer werd opgepakt en in de gevangenis belandde, ontsnapte Walter Miller uiteindelijk toen hij vastzat in North Carolina. Miller vluchtte en kwam in 1977 aan in New York. Met hier en daar wat hulp en dankzij iemand van de Department of Motor Vehicles, die een oogje dichtkneep, lukte het hem om zijn naam te veranderen naar Bobby Love.
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(7/11) “Bobby Love arrived in New York in late November, 1977. I was glad to be free, but I was still in a tough spot. I had to build a life from scratch. All I had was $100 in small bills, a single pair of clothes, and a brand new name. I moved into a fleabag hotel, and for two weeks I survived on hotdogs and marijuana. Then my money ran out and I started sleeping on the trains. I had to figure out a way to get a foothold in life. I wasn’t even a person. I had no papers, no ID, no nothing. Believe it or not, the first thing I got was a social security number. I walked up to the window and told the lady a story about losing everything, and she gave me a card. On the spot. I still have it today. Next I got hold of an original birth certificate, scratched out the name, and typed ‘Bobby Love’ on the line. Then I took it to a print shop and copied it so many times that it didn’t look fake anymore. It didn’t take me long to find a brother at the funeral home who agreed to notarize it. He wouldn’t sign it, but he’d stamp it. And that was enough for me-- because I found a brother at the DMV who pretended not to notice. And that’s how I got my drivers license. Then I used all my new papers to get a job working in the cafeteria of the Baptist Medical Center. And that’s where I met Cheryl.”
Uiteindelijk komt Bobby zijn grote liefde Cheryl tegen, die volgens hem goudeerlijk is. ‘Het is een van de redenen dat ik voor haar viel’, vertelt hij aan Humans of New York. Bobby heeft zijn vrouw nooit durven vertellen over zijn criminele verleden en ware identiteit. Maar na zijn arrestatie kon hij de leugens niet meer ophouden.
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(9/11) “There was a piece missing. All these years I loved my husband. And he loved me— but something was missing. First, he never liked to be in photographs. And he always thought people were watching him. But I just thought it was vanity. I kept saying: ‘C’mon, Bobby. You aren’t that exclusive.’ But then there was the deeper stuff. We had some beautiful love making. But other than that, there wasn’t much affection. Not many hugs. Not much cuddling. Not much communication. I could only get so close and he’d shut down. Sometimes, when we were arguing, I’d be pouring myself out to him. And he’d just sit there with a scowl on his face. I thought it was me. I kept thinking: ‘Maybe he doesn’t want to be here.’ But Bobby was a provider. He was always working two or three jobs. He’d cook, and do laundry, and spend time with the kids. I thought to myself: ‘Everyone is different. People have different upbringings. This might be how Bobby shows love.’ But it was hard. It wore me down. I cried so many tears about it. I remember during Christmas of 2014, I was on my knees in church, saying: ‘Lord, please, I can’t do this anymore.’ I begged God to change my husband’s heart. I’d reached the end of my rope. That was a few weeks before everything went down.“
Het duurde volgens Cheryl niet lang voordat ze haar man kon vergeven. Ze maakte zich zoveel zorgen om Bobby, dat het haar liefde alleen maar bevestigde.
Wil je de rest van de foto’s zien en het hele verhaal van Bobby en Cheryl Love lezen? Dat kan op de site van Humans of New York.