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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

NOT ABOUT BICYCLING: The International Story Telling Festival Ghost

"It was evenings like then, when beneath dim
light and relaxing in a sultry bath that she missed
him the most.  A flicker of candlelight, snow against
the window and the soothing scent of creme caramel....
all were a comfort to her as she closed her eyes, 
summoned memories and many a tender thought.  She 
didn't feel deserving of the devotion bestowed upon her, but
she had finally learned to accept its wondrous gift, knowing 
that love was the source of existence and its only end."
Donna Lynn Hope

Dear Lloyd,

I was not sure how to write this as there are no words to express the ravenous yearning that surged through me at the International Story Telling Festival when he sat down.  I could not see his eyes or his face, but his hair was cut just like yours, a few gray wisps intertwined with the silvery whiteness of age.  It was the same length, lay the same.  

His ears held the same curve and thickness, the same skin coloration, and I could see the ear piece of his glasses.  He was dressed in your style of plaid shirt, and it was neatly tucked into his jeans, bound by a thin, tan leather belt as yours always was.  His neck, perhaps a bit thicker, and his waist as well.  But it could have been you sitting there.  

Tears began to stream down my face, for while I knew it could not be you, it was you, and my loss returned as sharply and deeply as it was when first you left me.  I watched you die: I was with you when your soul departed, but somehow here you are.  I wonder what this strange man, so like you, would do if I tapped his shoulder and ask him to hold me, to let me bury deeply into his shoulder as I did yours so often when I was hurt or in need.  For this was what I wanted to do, to fill this need that plagues my nights and days, this endless aching that eases but does not ever truly abate.  The loss that I thought I had dealt with and was behind me instead is in front of me, yet again stretching endlessly,  never dealt with at all.  

And suddenly I notice that the man on stage is talking about the loss of his mother.  While I regret his loss, that he had to go through this, I realize that loss is universal, love, and that we must continue living, and living hard.  To do otherwise would be to dishonor you.  But, oh, how I miss you, my love.  And oh, how I dread the loss of others dear to me without your love to steady me.  My daughter worriedly pats my shoulder, her touch a balm for my wounds.  How I hate having her see this on her yearly girls' birthday trip.

But then I realize your love is not gone:  it surrounds me in these things you left behind, odd things like the labeled shut off valves for the water, the labeled fuse box.  It lives in this house that I asked God to bless before we moved in, this house where we raised our children, where we loved, where we argued and made up,  and  yes, where you died.  I will not dishonor those gifts, my love, and I will not dishonor your life and those gifts by not living mine.

The man stands up and turns to leave and of course he is not you.  That must wait for another world and another time.  Oh, the stories that I will have to tell you and to get your thoughts on.  Until then, rest easy.  I will be alright.  

Love, Me

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