Why Does He Still Make Me Ache

With my Apple Music playing on the Soft Pop station (don’t judge, it was background music while I was working) I pecked away at several projects with urgent deadlines. Work was foremost in my mind. And then the rich crooning of Roberta Flack comes through the tiny speaker…
The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies
The first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hand
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command my love
And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time my love
The first time ever I saw your face
Your face, your face
It was as if I was instantly transported to that moment over five years ago when I met HIM. The first time ever I saw HIS face. The one I fell for totally and completely almost instantly. The one whose face I will never again see. Will he always make me ache? When I’m a very old woman, who has lived a full, meaningful life, will part of me still pine? I don’t understand it. But tonight I’m feeding it. Roberta Flack is on repeat.

His Ghost Visited

The Australian came to me in my sleep last night. We walked moorish hills with the sun positioned just on the horizon for hours. He held me tightly against his side every step of the way. His death was never mentioned but it hung in the air like the peircing wane of a boat whistle signaling departure. 

We fell asleep together in a grassy hillside nave overlooking miles and miles of sunset cover country. As I began to wake, slowly returning to consciousness, I felt myself drifting away but could still see him resting peacefully, a soft smile on his lips. 

Was it only a dream, brought on by my conversation about him with a friend yesterday? Or did the tears I shed as I listened to his recorded voice for the first time in ages call him from the beyond to meet me in the golden lit firmament  between his world and mine? 

Changing Scenes 

He was tall, broad-shouldered, with a deep, rumbling laugh. I stood in the bedroom of his sprawling ranch house in Big Sur country wearing tawny riding breeches and a red sweater as we discussed which of his dozen horses would be my mount for the day. His three daughters and one son would be arriving for the long weekend later that day. But I didn’t have to do any planning. Mrs. Prill would see to it that dinner was served at seven, he explained. I took a deep breath and threw my arms around him. 

“You make everything so simple!” I laughed. 

The scene changed. 

The massive kitchen with a giant fireplace is briming with conversation and savory smells. The children, all in their late teens and early twenties banter back and forth. They are affectionate with me. I sip my tea, taking it all in. It feels like home, but with a piece missing. 

The scene changed. 

The man and I were walking along the coast at sunset. Hand in hand. The memories of the day played through my mind. It was perfect. The house. The land. The horses. The coast. The California sun. The big family. The security. The tall, distinguished man. Too perfect. I felt a stab in my heart as I thought of Nathan. Where was he? Why had I left him? 

I began to run. Faster. Faster. So fast my feet barely touched the ground. And then I was flying! I caught a current of air and let it lift me high into the sky, away from the man. It was glorious, like being inside the most iridescent opal you’ve ever seen, with a symphony of string instruments accompanying you. 

I woke with a start, the room dark and the soft sound of Nathan’s breathing. What did it all mean? This dream outlined my perfect life. Down to the large, ready made family that I didn’t have to birth and raise. But when I realized it had all been a product of REM sleep, I just felt relief. Because I didn’t leave Nathan. He’s still right here. Beside me. 

So Much Death This Year

If you had told me that I’d be here—here being an emotional descriptor, not a physical location—at this exact moment last year, I don’t think my mind could have comprehended it. That’s why it comes in stages I supposed.

Loss.

This time last year I was in a hospital. Scared. But not realizing at the time that the grandmother I knew was gone forever. The sweet, often childlike woman left in her place is still cherished and loved. But it’s different.

The loss creeps up on you if you’re lucky.

Or it gives you time to prepare for it like it did with two of the deaths that touched me this year. I knew they were sick. I knew it was coming. But I wasn’t ready. Never are we ready, are we? Racing to bedsides. Praying that the loved one will. Just. Hold. On.

But he didn’t.

Other times the loss blindsides you. Driving in the Christmas traffic, following the trail of red tail lights through the foggy night it hit me again that the Australian is dead. A third death. The one I mourn silently. The one I never in a hundred years saw coming.

So much loss this year. So much pain. And change too. Good change. Challenging change. Unexpected change.

The me from a year ago wouldn’t recognize my life now. She would be excited for me. And a little scared. Ok… maybe a lot scared. But wouldn’t admit it.

Here’s the kicker. No one told me that when you are a grown up you really don’t have a fucking clue what you are doing. We think as kids that adults have it all figured out, but that’s simply not true. Grown ups are just big kids, who have enough mistakes under their belt to muddle through, doing the best they can to make it through another day, another week, another month, another year.

But, there is hope too. Always hope. Because through the loss, through the pain, through the change, the challenges and the mistakes, there is life. And sometimes even love.

So here’s to love. Even in death… so much death… the love lives on.

 

The End – The Australian: Chapter 17

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.

Time slowed.

Ian is dead. Ian is dead. Ian is dead. That phrase ran through my shocked brain over and over. Continue reading

Stolen Hours – The Australian: Chapter 15

My flight took off and landed without delay. I had called in sick to work on my way to the airport, doing my best to sound at death’s door, when in reality my heart was singing and full of life. The plan was for Ian to pick me up at the airport and I fully expected him to be there waiting for me as soon as I walked out of the terminal.

He wasn’t.

The minutes ticked by. I repeatedly checked my watch. Ten, fifteen, then twenty excruciating minutes passed. And then I saw him walking up. He wore a white shirt tucked into dark denim jeans and as our eyes met, his adorable lopsided grin lit up his face.

“You came,” I sighed into his chest as he held me. Continue reading

Taking Flight – The Australian: Chapter 14

“I’ve never been so happy and so sad at the same time in all my life,” I told my best friend.

She had listened to me talk nonstop about meeting Ian, about making love with Ian, about Ian’s flower sending abilities and about how sure I was that Ian was my soul mate for days. The consummate friend, she had commiserated with me tirelessly. And now she offered some advice.

“Go see him,” she said abruptly as I was lamenting his departure for Australia in the next few days.

“What?” I replied, dumbly.

“Go see him. Before he’s out of the country,” she explained.

“You mean like tomorrow?”

“Yes!”

I don’t know why I hadn’t already thought about dropping everything and flying to see him before he left the country. I was ready to quit my job and move to Australia if he asked, so this would be small in comparison. But most of all I wanted the chance to be in his arms again, to feel his breath on my body, to know for sure that what I had experienced, felt, believed was real.

“Oh my gosh. I could make this happen,” I said, disbelief rapidly dispersing. Continue reading

Daydreams and Bouquets – The Australian: Chapter 13

The morning of February 14th I drove to work bleary eyed but happy. Ian and I had video chatted long into the night. His looks of longing and whispered I love yous had left my heart full even though the future was still as clear as a foggy morning in the Appalachian foothills, somewhere among the mist I felt hope.

Phones rang, paper scattered, and the general scurry of activity surrounded me. It all seemed a blur. None of it touched me. I was elsewhere, living in the future in my daydream. It was a place where Ian and I would get home from work around the same time. He, an avid cook would be preparing our meal while I tinkered on a rich sounding upright piano nearby. Our eyes would meet and sparkle, because we knew we had beat the fates and made a life together.

“Marian, there’s a delivery for you.” Continue reading

Lies and Alibis – The Australian: Chapter 12

-New part begins now-

Gripping the steering wheel, heart full of hope and confusion I drove towards home. Regan, the man I had been with for years and was planning to marry would be waiting. I had just met and fallen in love with my soulmate and I had to return to the arms of another.

The darkness engulfed me as I made the long journey to my cottage’s driveway. Home at last I pulled into the garage and sat there for a moment. Four days ago I left on what was supposed to be a simple research trip. I had returned a different woman.

Was what had happened real? Already I was questioning.

The door opened and my clueless fiance came out to help bring in my luggage. He had no way of knowing my heart was heavier than all my bags combined. Continue reading

Undiluted Cocaine – The Australian: Chapter 11

Barely able to breathe I gathered my suitcase and walked out of the airport and into the cold, artificially lit parking garage. Blindly I found my car, got in and, as one on auto-pilot, began the long trek home. The previous twenty-four hours replayed in my head over and over again. The gin-induced hangover, the horseback tour of the grounds, the first glimpse of Ian, the electricity when his hand touched mine, the invitation to ride back to town with him, canceling the taxi, being so close to him in that tiny rental car, the tour guide assuming I was his wife, our laughter, the amazing dinner, asking him to stay the night with me, the first kiss, the words spoken, our coupling, the last kiss goodbye…

Had I imagined it all? Had none of those feelings been real? Surely they had… But then why give me the wrong email address? Why leave me with no way of contacting him? The questions rapid-fired through my brain.

I turned into the driveway of my empty, dark cottage, cut the engine, rested my head on the steering wheel and inhaled. Ignoring the sharp pain in my chest, I focused on his scent that still coated my body. It was as if Ian’s ghost was in the car with me. If only the ether of his being could hold me now, when I needed it so. Continue reading

There Is No Light – The Australian: Chapter 10

The drive to the airport with Ian was too short, although it seemed to take an eternity. I kept thinking of things to say, yet no words would come. The silence from the driver’s seat did nothing to free my voice. Already, the bleak loneliness of leaving him was creeping in, barely held in check by his warm hand on my thigh. There, on the curved muscle, I felt the connection. I focused my thoughts on that hand, memorizing it’s lines, scars, shape and marks, the feel of it, the weight, its gentleness.

“I don’t know how to say goodbye to you,” came a whisper from his tight throat, “or even contemplate it.”

I looked to the left, just in time to see the sunlight catch the tear falling from his cheek. Continue reading

Taken – The Australian: Chapter 8

“What?” Ian asked with a smile, his Australian accent making my world tilt violently.

“You’re beautiful,” I said, eyes wide, taking in the man before me.

“You’re gonna make me blush,” he chuckled, and closed the gap between us.

Carefully Ian bent and gathered the hem of my long, clinging black dress and lifted it up my body. I held my arms aloft as the fabric slid up and over my head. He knelt before me and lifted a foot, gently removing the black high heel encasing it before repeating with the other. Still kneeling, his hands began at my ankles and traced up the outside edges of my calves and thighs, under my black satin spaghetti-strapped slip to the waistband of my hose. Ever so slowly, he pulled them down, stripping me of the sheer black bindings. As I stood there, in just my slip, he wrapped his arm around my waist and rested his head on my abdomen. Tenderly I ran my fingers through his thick dark hair, massaging his temples. He looked up at me.  Continue reading