It had been almost a year since I gave into the temptation to email Ian. So why, the urge hit me so hard the other day, I don’t know. But, instead of sending an email that I didn’t expect a response to, I did the next best thing. While sitting at my office desk, I googled him.
The fourth result down held his full name. And something more…
It held the day of his death.
Ian is dead. Ian is dead. Ian is dead. That phrase ran through my shocked brain over and over.
I clicked on the link and my blood ran cold. He had been buried on my birthday.
A million tiny splinters fragmented in my brain. I grabbed my purse, paused only long enough to tell a coworker that I had a meeting I had forgotten about, and fled the stifling office. I texted my best friend: Are you home? I need to come over.
She didn’t ask questions. She just simply texted back: Sure. Come on.
I drove with my mind in a fog. My entire reality had shifted. It never occurred to me that he would die. How could he? We still had time. He still had a book signing to attend. The book that told OUR story. Someday, someday… someday we would get to be together. Even if it was just for a few stolen moments.
I parked in front of my friend’s house and she met me at her door. My eyes were dry. Shock had blocked the tear ducts.
“What’s wrong,” she asked after taking one look at me.
“It’s Ian,” I whispered, hardly believing the next words that would be passing my lips, “He’s dead.”
With the uttering, I broke. The tears came. And she held me as I wept.
This is what I have been processing for weeks. What has prompted my silence here. How did the man who changed my entire outlook on life leave this earth without me realizing it?
And how did he die? I had to know. Days of digging later I had the answer. And I’ll only say that it was unexpected and not self inflicted. That at least gives me some peace. But the knowledge that I’ll never again hear from him… that it isn’t even a possibility… haunts me.
I was driving home from my run when those thoughts were again running through my head. I pulled off the main highway to a deserted side road and parked my car in the shade of an old tree. The sobs came. And I let them flow unchecked. I needed to grieve.
“Shhh,” I heard Ian’s voice in my head, “Breathe Marian, breath my beautiful one. Sweet Marian. Tender Marian.”
I took a deep breath and stilled my shuddering body.
“This isn’t the end,” his voice continued, “For the rest of your life I’ll be the wind running my fingers through your hair. I’ll be the warmth of the sun caressing your face with gentle kisses. I’ll be the starlight reflected in your eyes. And our next time around, maybe we’ll get more time. We don’t always get to even meet you know. Sometimes we aren’t aware. We pass like ships in the night, running with no lights. I see it all now. All the times past. There will be more dear Marian. There will.”
Just then a gust of wind swirled through the trees and blew my hair in a million directions. The clouds parted and a beam of warm sunlight fell on my face, drying my tears.