A 12 year love story

In every life, in every relationship, there are dates that get burned into your memory. Saturday, September 5, 2020 is now added to my list, as the day I lost someone very important to me. The truth is we were no longer as close, but I had loved him for over a decade.

Thursday, May 15, 2008, was the day that I met Denver. I had seen him around for the last month or so – this tall, slim guy with locks always beating a rhythm with sticks or his hands – but never thought much about it until this day. He spotted me as I ran errands one day and said he wanted to talk to me. I blithely told him he knew where to find me. This sent him making inquiries until he realized I worked where he’d been rehearsing recently.

Bianca and Denver embracing
First date, 3 days after we met (taken May 18, 2008)

That afternoon, we talked. He came and watched me rehearse at the panyard. He turned up at the studio that night where I was sitting in on a session. He (tried to) follow me home to make sure I was safe. The next day, he brought me a home-cooked lunch of steamed fish. Our first official date was that Sunday, only because I went out of town that weekend.

There’s no question we were rebounds for each other – he was coming out of a marriage that fell apart the previous year as they awaited the birth of their daughter, Destiny-Joye, and I was just coming out of a dysfunctional relationship myself. But there was no stopping us. He told me that very first day that I was already his woman and just didn’t know it yet.

Thursday, May 22, 2008, was the first time Denver took me dancing. We went to Jonkonoo Lounge where we had both gone Latin dancing for years but never crossed paths. That night we became dance partners, and as we walked back to the car afterward, I told him he had been right, and I was his.

To call it a whirlwind would be to understate what came next. It would be less than a month later that Denver would leave on his standard summer tour, for he was still a working band musician. We spent almost every waking hour together when we weren’t working and some when we were. Then we spent hours texting and talking on the phone while we were apart.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was something we both wanted very badly. People around us didn’t know what to make of it – we seemed as different as could be. But the months turned into years, and we pushed through the differences and the ups and downs, working together, and helping to co-parent Destiny-Joye as best we could.

Denver playing drums and singing
Denver performing at his album launch (taken March 21, 2012 by Diallo Dixon)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012, was the day we held our first album launch. Denver had transitioned into being an artiste, Denver D, writing and performing his own music, backed by his own band. This was his dream, though only part of it. This album, Musically Disturbed, had been years in the making. Significantly, for me, it contained the first song we ever co-wrote, Past Tense.

Over the years, we had shifted from me being in studio beside him, to me being behind-the-scenes consulting on everything from song lyrics to website and promotions. I had been de facto management until we decided that our relationship needed to exist separately from his career in order to survive.

Image collage
Collage of images of Bianca and Denver from 2008 – 2014 (compiled on May 22, 2014)

Thursday, May 22, 2014, was a celebration, not just of our 6th anniversary, but also of Denver’s coming through surgery. He had been diagnosed with colon cancer, a little over a month earlier, at age 37 (likely hereditary). The surgery was not optional as by the time the tumour was discovered, it was near emergency status.

Denver with an IV stand and a cup of tea
Celebrating Denver’s recovery from surgery (taken May 23, 2014)

The afternoon of his surgery, I paced the hospital waiting for word. I sat on the floor alone and cried as the delay stretched on until finally hearing that he was ok. The surgery date is no longer what I remember, but the anniversary as we celebrated his still being here.

It was after this surgery that Felukè was born. Denver felt renewed and reborn. His music began to take shape, coming from his spirit.

Unfortunately, for us, the next year and a half proved difficult, as we struggled to find our way together. Things were rough between us and by 2016 we found ourselves in couples counseling – talking through what we had, and what we wanted.

Bianca and Denver standing together
Last pic together, a couple of weeks before we broke up (taken September 12, 2016)

Friday, September 30, 2016, was the day we sat and talked it out for the last time. We accepted that day that we were no longer working. We still loved each other, but we weren’t loving being with each other. The island was under the threat of a storm that weekend, and we parted ways before the rains began.

It was less than 6 months later that Denver’s cancer came back and spread. This time instead of turning privately to friends and family, as we had for the first surgery, a crowdfunding campaign was started to raise enough to get him to Mexico for treatment. I couldn’t go with him to Mexico, but I got the regular updates on the treatment and his progress, which I shared with my family throughout.

By mid- to late 2018, Denver and I had started to find our footing as friends, outside of being exes. He was feeling good, about his health and life in general.  We even went dancing shortly after my birthday n November. In 2019, we were even able to joke and flirt like old times, with Denver wanting to take me out.

The date of our last dance escapes me, because I broke my leg in July 2019, which basically reset my brain. But while I was laid up, Denver was one of the few people who came to visit me and did so more than once, even bringing the now very grown-up Destiny-Joye.

Denver never told me when the cancer came back. It wasn’t until I eventually found out about yet another crowd-funding campaign in 2020 that he shared what was happening. I think he partly didn’t want pity, partly didn’t want to ask for help, and maybe partly wanted me to remember him as we’d last been – happy and dancing.

Pity I never did – Denver was always positive except when he was in too much pain. Help I did – whenever I could, whenever I was asked. Remember I always will – Denver was my dance partner for life.

Saturday, September 5, 2020, was the day I lost him. I had spoken to him a couple times before he left for Mexico, but he wouldn’t let me come see him. I had only spoken briefly to him while he was in Mexico.

We had been apart for almost 4 years, nearly half as long as we’d been together. And maybe someday I will be able to write about what he truly meant to me. But a piece of my heart died that day. And the world lost a musical genius they had yet to truly know.

Denver looking over shoulder at camera
From photoshoot (taken June 21, 2014 by Ryan Esson)

Rest in Peace, Denver Andrae Smith, “Denver D”, “Felukè”

March 24, 1977 – September 5, 2020






12 responses to “A 12 year love story”

  1. Keiron Stewart Avatar
    Keiron Stewart

    Beautiful story…and my condolences to you and your extended family and loved ones.

  2. Carla Gordon Avatar
    Carla Gordon

    A beautiful love story, Bianca filled with the ups and downs, triumphs and defeats that all good love stories suffer. Really sorry for your loss. Hang in there.

  3. Carlinton Burrell Avatar
    Carlinton Burrell

    Please accept my condolences Bianca. Such a beautiful story. Truly sorry for your loss.

  4. Eritha Huntley Lewis Avatar
    Eritha Huntley Lewis

    I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers

  5. Celene Gordon Avatar
    Celene Gordon

    My condolences Bianca, you did mention him when we worked together, looking at the timelines I realize now how close the events that you spoke of were. I’m sorry for your loss.

  6. Petagay Avatar

    Please accept my condolences.

  7. Marlon Hogg Avatar

    Words can’t describe what I felt reading this. Truly am sorry for your loss. I pray you find comfort and peace during this difficult time. My prayers are with you and your family.

  8. LaRonda Robinson Avatar
    LaRonda Robinson

    I’m sorry for your loss. I’m glad you knew a deep love with Denver before he left.

  9. Kimberley Dunkley Watkins Avatar
    Kimberley Dunkley Watkins

    Truly lost for words on this one Bianca but what a beautiful tribute to him and the life you beautifully lived together and apart.

  10. Georgia Beckford Avatar
    Georgia Beckford

    Beautiful story Bianca….so sorry for your loss

  11. Emily Avatar

    This is so beautiful Bianca…

  12. Traci Ferguson Avatar
    Traci Ferguson

    This is beautiful Bianca. Please accept my deepest condolences ????

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