(originally posted 8/31/2015)
My memory goes a bit in and out some days. Some days that’s a good thing. Most days I’d go crazy if I was fully able to understand just how old I am. How much of my life is behind me. In the ol’ rear view.
So I sit here and allow myself to drift away. I usually drift to the same spot.
Watching the movie Braveheart together. I don’t know why fate would have my returning to that particular moment, perhaps fate is a cruel SOB. It was almost as though she saw something coming that I didn’t. I thought everything was great and everything would continue to be great.
It’s hard to tell these days.
I don’t remember the exact scene that caused her to say what she said. I just remember what she said. I realize it’s frustrating to listen to a story that has so many holes in it but you’ll just have to try and follow along as best as you can. I could fill in the gaps with a load of made-up stuff, but in the end I don’t think that would do anything to help the story along. Maybe you will fill in the holes with stuff a lot more interesting than what actually happened.
She took my hand and looked at me and said “One day, when you’re in a similar spot, I’ll come back. I’ll be there.” I think it was in response to the love interest in the movie returning to Braveheart. It might have been when he was getting his head lopped off. “Fat lot of good it did him then,” you might think to yourself but if memory serves me right, which it rarely does these days, he was glad to see her nonetheless.
Some days I can’t remember my birthday but I remember those words as if they were spoken yesterday.
She left me soon after.
I guess a lot of people claim to have found love multiple times in their life, and I don’t want to sound like I’m judging them, but I believe that if you’ve found love multiple times then you’ve never actually found it. You just have a lot of fools’ gold piled up in your heart. There are those that enjoy poetry and there are those that prefer to follow the exploits of the man from Nantucket. Something along those lines.
She was it for me. My one love.
I found out the hard way that not every street runs both ways.
That was over fifty years ago.
First the Nantucket reference and then the street thing, I hope you’ll forgive an old man his metaphors. It seems to take the sting out a bit when I use them. Of course, I wouldn’t trade this ache for the world. It’s one of only two mementos I have of her. The other is a faded picture I keep in a tattered copy of Still Life With Woodpecker. When you’re my age everything you own is either faded or tattered.
Even your memories.
So she left and I carried on and lived a life. Wondering, of course, how many people could see that there was something different about me. If anyone could tell that I had loved and lost. It only occurred to me that nobody cared when I realized that I wasn’t looking at anyone else with any particular interest. We all lead our lives as if we are the stars of some cosmic sitcom when it reality there’s just too many of us on the planet for everyone to have their own show.
Two months ago I had a stroke. It was very touch and go and I spent six weeks in a coma. Actually, I’m not sure if it was officially a coma. I’m unclear about a lot of the medical definitions that I hear thrown around these days, all I know is that I was asleep for a long time. My insurance is good so they were happy to keep me alive by whatever means necessary.
It was the nurse that told me about my frequent visitor. Having no family it perplexed me to no end. I wondered who it was that had bothered to pop in to have a look at me laying there. It wasn’t until that same nurse caught me staring at the picture of my lost love that the riddle was solved.
“That looks like her,” she said and then added “about a hundred years ago” with a chuckle.
As if that wasn’t enough, when I went to slip the picture back into the book I noticed that there was a part circled in black ink:
“I’m an outlaw, not a hero. I never intended to rescue you. We’re our own dragons as well as heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves.”
I’d be lying if I told you my head didn’t swim a little reading that. Why that line when there was a perfectly good “The only question is how to make love stay” only pages away? I’m too damn old to figure it out. If you’re looking for some brilliant analogy from a man wearing an adult diaper you’ve come to the wrong place.
Still, it’s nice to know she stopped by.