Your voice sounded withered today, like a vine that’s gone too long without the sun; no longer offering fruit but reaching outward, for something solid to cling to and wrap yourself around in order not to break.
Clinging is such an ugly word though, and people our age know better than to cling. Yet, holding is another skill, and that’s one we all seem to be trying to master now. Holding onto: the people, places and memories that give our ego definition. But people come and go and places change. Even memory needs some reminding now and then.
If I could tell you anything now, I would read to you some words I wrote two, three, maybe four or five years ago. I forget exactly when it was that you came flooding back into my memory. I was so sure then that I would never see you or talk to you again and at that time, I was afraid no one would remember me when I was young and so carefree.
But here we are over a decade later talking about how life is relentless, you battling traffic to a meeting, and I waiting, thousands and thousands of miles away for an appointment with a tax accountant.
Where are those two people who laughed when old couples remarked to us how good we looked together, and asked how many children we had? I remember answering them and laughing, “We have four children.” How very ironic that seems now.
If I could sit next to you again on the sunset bank of a spring river, there would not be tears. I would want you to know how my memory has kept your boyish smile and jeans-with-no-underwear-first-thing-in-the-morning routine pristine, so I could come back to you over and over again. Sometimes in the blue light of dawn, and sometimes during that lonely hour between afternoon and sunset. There were times that your letters and photographs fell out of their hiding places and suddenly I was staring at your smiling face, and reading your letters.
After all of these years and the wear and tear of living, I would tell you that you were the last man I loved enough to really break my heart. You and I both know now what it’s like to grow more tolerant of loss, grief and the way lives become woven together, fall apart, make way for growth and maybe find each other again or forget completely.
I was so certain when I saw you last, that I would never see you again. Certainty is a fickle thing though. One minute it exists and the next it has vanished, never to land in our consciousness the same way ever again. Now I know that if I were to see you again, I would carry with me that visceral knowledge that it may be the last time, whether by choice or chance.
Life’s magic rests in the not-knowing, the uncertainty and the ability to really live with all of our senses, in the moment and from the heart.
Words may not convey everything the way a slow, sensual all-the-time-in-the-world kiss that leads to a dreamy weekend of love-making and laughter might do, but for now, these words will have to suffice.
All those years ago you were my best friend and lover. Your laughter, conversation and the way your body moved in the night delighted every part of me. I want you to know this one thing; no matter how much life wears us down or how old we feel, you will always be that handsome, once-in-a-lifetime man to me, and I am grateful for the memory.