When the ship had sunk and dreams had been abandoned, the water settled and I found my way to shore. The sun had come to shine. Reality as tangible and warm as concrete on a summers day had finally arrived and I caught my breath as I was led onto a new foundation. I didn’t turn around to watch all my fantasies sinking but I heard them bubbling to the ocean floor. I may have failed as a captain but I succeeded at love. A vision of perfection like Titanic had proven irrevocably impossible but humanity had over run the wreckage like vines devouring an abandoned building. I couldn’t be perfect, but I could be loved, and somehow that was better.
So she sat in a running red chevy truck, next to a boy she didn’t love in the drive way of her house. She didn’t cry, she didn’t make a sound, just sat there still trying to find the words she could never bring herself to say. Loneliness like a sitting tiger watched her from the door way of her house, taunting her with what may happen if she walked in alone. There is no one here to speak for her, no one to reassure her that what she thinks is true, and what she wants is okay. If I leave, what if I never meet someone else again? She thinks. And then, a thought bubbled up. Who might you meet, if you dared to give up the good to go for the great? The tension in her mind was broken, her relief settled her mind and body and she turned with kind eyes to the beautiful boy next to her, and kissed him goodbye.
The weather outside makes it so I can’t see six feet in front of me. Everything is a deep fog, misty and thick. The snow is white and covers everything, effervescing into the light grey mist. The world does not feel cloudy to me. It does not feel unclear. Actually, I feel relieved. I am not in a fog. I am on a blank sheet of paper. A canvas ready to begin. I begin with no sight, making something, and later on, when the fog is cleared something new is brought into the light that has never been here before. But for now, I enjoy the haze and the soft falling of snow that new beginnings bring.
*DISCLAIMER* I wrote this when I first started writing, before I decided I wanted to become a writer. I believe in this story you can see my desire to portray the purity of human emotion and connection and the role it plays in our lives. However it is rough, I know it’s rough and if you want to read it, God bless you, I love it either way.
I remember jet setting, full moons, banana pancakes and dancing around with you in the living room. The life we have lived makes me smile as I think about it. I remember eating peanut butter sandwiches for dinner for a week while we were saving up for our first child. Crying together and holding hands as we watched her graduated college. All the craziness in between of raising a daughter. Laughing our hearts out when we both cant sleep at 2 AM and we’ve been talking for hours. I could not have asked for a better partner. You let me decorate our home and I let you pick the colors. You loved my smile and I adored yours. I remember our first fight, when we couldn’t agree no matter how hard we tried. I remember making up to each other for days after telling each other how much we loved each other and simple disagreements wouldn’t change that.
You made me proud to call you my husband. You made me brave enough to marry you. I trusted you. Which is something I cant say for a lot of people and men none the less. Above all, I respect you. I respect you, your vision, your choices, everything. You proved to me you had it in you to live with constitution and courage. I used to think loving someone for their strengths was shallow but I think differently now. You are what you choose to become, and I love you for who you chose to be and what you decided for yourself. No one did this for you, we both came from broken backgrounds and you chose to be a Man. Your spirit is what I love most about you. I remember as a little girl when church was over I would play out side while my mom finished talking to her friends. At night in the fall when i would play outside I would feel so magical. The moon and stars would be out, the air would be crisp with a slight chill and the air smelled like rustling leaves. It gives me goosebumps every time. You make me feel like that. I love you.
I had to say goodbye to you today. I didn’t want to. I really did not want to. Our children were there and our grandchildren too but i couldn’t be strong for them. I cried seeing you so still. Like I have said I loved your spirit the most and it was not in your body anymore. However those hands and those arms held me for nights I couldn’t number if i tried. Your lips told me things that made me laugh, cry, kiss you and everything in between. Your eyes, oh your beautiful sweet eyes. I could look into them for hours and never feel awkward. Suddenly I felt one of those fall nights up my back, neck and arms and I knew you were there. God must have given you another chance to say goodbye to me one last time. I love him for that. I give a half smile as I swear i feel your hand on my arm. I place my hand on it and look up hoping to meet your eyes if they’re there. I whisper ‘I love you’ and then I feel you leave and the tears come rolling.
All at once, our children come and wrap there arms around me and I fall into them. I grab them as tight as I can. All at once it becomes hard to cry with the reminder of everything we’ve accomplished wrapping their arms around me. It is hard to cry when I realize I am still being left with so much love. If theres one thing you did the best it was raising our children. We were one hell of a team but you were damn good father. When I go home this evening, I will go into the house you bought me. I will walk down the hallways and into the rooms you spent countless hours redesigning for me, to have my magazine home dreams come true. There is a box filled with sweet, sassy and quirky little notes you’ve left me. The pictures we have are hanging all around to remind me we did it. We did it. Deeper than the travel, or the house, or having children, we loved each other. You loved me so much. I would go back to being broke and 23 with you and would not trade it for all the money in the world.
It is strange to me the world you are leaving behind. Young people today are looking to the shinning things in life to be happy together. Travel, the beautiful house, cars, big rings, I almost feel like they are missing the big picture. My life with you was magical, memorable and soul stirring. Not because of the money we made or where we went, It wasn’t because of how great our pictures together came out and how many people liked them. It wasn’t because of the romance or the bedroom or how attractive we thought each other were. It wasn’t because of what you gave me or did for me and vis versa. It was love. So simple.
Maybe the world has a misinformed idea about what love is. It is not rose petals and butterflies and rainbows. That is romance, a secondary life experience. That is not what it was for me. All of the worldly beautiful things were shadowed in the light of the love you gave me. Love is scary at first, it takes you off guard that you want someone else and their needs to come before your own. Then you willingly sacrifice parts of your life to meet those needs. Nothing in the whole world can come close to that. Not travel, not money, not romance and not popularity. Love was the most valuable experience we have ever created. People get sick, they go broke, face challenges, you never know what will happen. All the bright and wonderful things we chase after are great but they fade so quick. Love will triumph over ever obstacle, win every fight, and save every soul.
As I sit and think about all the times we have shared I cannot help but to think of 1977. We were five years into being married and you lost your job. You stopped eating dinner because you said you just were not hungry but I knew you were scared. One night I suddenly awoke out of a deep sleep to find you not sleeping next to me. Half asleep I put my hair up and stumbled to put my robe on as I rubbed my eyes and started to walk through the hallway. When I got to the living room I could see you sitting outside on the back porch. I smiled because I knew you were worrying and I was just the person to help.
“It is so beautiful out tonight, I can see why you didn’t want to sleep.” I said to him with a coy smile, shutting the door and leaning up against it, smile still in place.
“Yeah, I just had a feeling I guess.” He said trying to smile but simply could not.
“You know, I hear there are these very young woman who marry very old men to become very rich. They travel around the world, the men buy them expensive jewelry and they go out to dinner every night! Oh and I’m not finished their houses are so big and so grand, their wine is hundreds of dollars a bottle, and they wear the nicest clothes.” I am half giggling and making grand gestures as I talk about such a couple. Then I stop kneel down next to him wrap my arms around his, kiss his cheek and look him in the eyes and say:
“They may travel, but I like midnight car rides with you the best, I do not look good in jewelry and my cooking is better than any restaurant. I love this house because we bought it and together we will remodel it and it will be so unique to us and it is already our daughters favorite place which makes it so much more special. I do not drink wine and neither do you and we make our clothes look good not the other way around.” I smile as I put my hand on his cheek.
“No amount of money could ever compare to how happy and fulfilled I am in life. No husband could ever provide for me the way you do. No daughter has a better father than you. You are doing an amazing job at what you are doing for us. This is just life and you can not control what life throws at you.”
He looks at me and I can read his mind. His face breaks a sigh of relief and I can see one tear fall on his cheek. As I wipe it away he looks down at first and says “thank you,” then he raises his eyes up to meet mine and says “I love you, thank you, I am so thankful I married you.”
He saw me starting to tear up so he pulls me closer and hugs me as tight as he can. I am so happy. I pull away to look in his eyes and he kisses me and his kisses are more valuable than gold. We sit side by side on the edge of the deck and I put my head on his shoulder, smile and swing my legs back and forth and sit in admiration of just how blessed and happy I really am.
Death cannot end love. As I enter into this new chapter of loss and grief, I will remember to be thankful that I have something so strong that it could never fail, not even now.
I get up from my chair and take one last look at my best friend. He is so still. I put my hand on his and it is cold, which I already knew but it still catches me off guard. I wrap my hand around his and lean in to kiss him on the forehead one last time. With all the strength I possessed I leaned my lips towards his ear and whispered “thank you” and kissed his cheek. Standing up, I wipe tear from my eye and start to walk outside. I chose my steps carefully because I do not want anyone following me.
Outside the funeral home is an ocean with a dock, I take off my heels and don’t even bother to grab my flats from my purse. I get outside to see the moonlit dock and I run to it. The mid summer grass is crunching beneath my feet and for the first time it feels good. I haven’t been 21 in so long but as I run I feel myself becoming younger. When I reach the end of the dock I sit down and hang my legs over the edge. My black tights hide my aging legs and I pretend they are 50 years younger. I must be hallucinating because when I look into the water my reflection is much younger and my husband is younger too, sitting right next to me. I lean my head on his shoulder and swing my legs back and forth and give a half smile. The moon is full and I have never seen so many stars out at night in all the countries we’ve been too. I have never seen a more beautiful sky and to think it would be in this small town.
I guess there are things you always know. You just don’t know that you know them. Somehow in the distance haze of a moment brought to fruition, an inner calling meets you there and whispers things you already know. As if you are seeing something you had already seen in a dream long ago. Despite it’s depth, it is not a dark place, but light. As if you dropped a rock into a river and once it touches the bottom, it glows and shows you just where the light is coming from.
I was in the aisles staring at a batch of clothing I had never had the nerve to buy or wear. All of the lace and scandalousness of the boudoir section made my heart yearn for the sensual part of me who so eagerly wants to express herself. It’s almost like a piece of me was made for coy sideways glances and teddy’s. Could I ever pull of bringing this piece of me to life without being condemned? Or having it become my identity? After all, it’s only a piece of me, but even the smallest piece left out leaves a person unwhole. I think I just redefined wholesome. As I stared out into the sea of seduction, a familiar looking woman appeared. Only this time she didn’t look so familiar. Her hair was brown and she wore conservative clothing. But I knew that smile and those eyes.
“Excuse me, but are you Marilyn Monroe?”
“My name is Norma Jean, Marilyn Monroe is a character I play. And you are?”
“I`m…” I begin to say but she cuts me off.
“You see I don’t know your name. Because you don’t buy the clothes you want or do the things you want to.”
I stood there stuns by her accurate and cutting observation. I was no one because I wasn’t one. I was leaving something out that needed to be in.
“What should I do?” I ask her earnestly.
She walked over to my side of the aisle and lifted up the piece I had been eyeing. “Put it on.” She lifted it closer to me. “Go on.”
We walked to the dressing room, and I slowly changed into a nude lace teddy. I flipped my hair out on some gloss and stared at ,myself reimagined in the mirror. I was a sexual goddess and even I wanted to see this piece of me more. I hesitantly walked out the dressing room doors and Norma smiled and put a hand over her mouth.
“Why dear your absolutely gorgeous.” She was absolutely giddy. “Now what is it that you want to do with all of this?”
Slightly embarrassed I begin to answer. “I want to be art.”
“You are art in and of itself my friend. What about being an icon?”
“I know. But here’s the trick. You have to believe you can be before you can do it. Never stop believing. No matter how successful or how much failure you endure always believe you can create something, someone a d have it be your God given right to bring whatever you want into this world, into this world. I think you really could be the next
woman to revolutionize sexuality.”
“But what if people misunderstand, and take me for a whore?”
“Then that’s their problem. You are a multifaceted human being. This won’t be the only thing you do. And just because you do this doesn’t mean you can’t do other things that are wildly different from this. I fought so hard for women in Hollywood to be able to break out from the lack of power or control in their careers. You have all of that. You can do whatever you please. Go for it. You never knew who you could be.”
In the woods, as I was stumbling to find my way, I laid down to get some rest when angels found me. Not a soul could see deep behind the trees. I was all alone, hidden from my enemies. The angels circled me and placed their hands in the air above my chest and as I slept, they made a glowing healing light that woven inside my bones a new glowing thread. They all sat there above me, healing what I could never know was needed, and prayed one by one for a girl in the woods to remember who she was before she knew fear, before she knew doubt and before she learned to put herself down to keep a relationship going. They prayed so fiercely their words began to glow as the spoke. These were not just any angels but souls who had walked the earth before, who successfully answered their calling and helped the ones beginning that journey in hidden places, in unseen moments. These are the angels whose desire is to see people as happy as they were when they lived, giving what is needed but always staying hidden.