Archive for hope

Lessons Learned

Posted in life story with tags , , , on 2011/05/25 by R L Burns

(From Feb 2011)

An anniversary of sorts passed recently, and I found myself re-reading some of my older pieces.  A couple of years ago I wrote a piece on here that ended with the following words:

Belief in you, in what was, has held me together through my darkest, loneliest, most horrifying hours; has forced me not to abandon all hope. Belief in you and what is, and what can be, will get me through now. 

Thank you, for the most precious gift of yourself. Thank you for teaching me that love doesn’t have to be degrading or painful or ugly; that it truly can be beautiful and breathtaking and glorious. But thank you especially, for giving me back to me. For showing me, for allowing me to be, finally, who I truly am. And for loving me anyway.  Those things I will happily never forget.

When I read those words now, I am…embarrassed.  Even somewhat ashamed.   That I was that gullible.  That for so much of my life I wouldn’t really love anyone or allow them to love me — out of fear.  Fear that they would reject me.  Fear that “he” would return one day.  Fear that he wouldn’t.  Fear that — whatever.  Just plain fear.  Like one of my favorite quotes from the movie Strictly Ballroom, I only half-lived.  (The quote is:  A life lived in fear is a life half-lived.)

For the majority of my life I believed that this one person could fix everything, was the answer to EVERYTHING.  It was useful, yes, because the belief that if he was there none of the horrible things that happened would have done did actually help me survive, but it was stupid, too, because, well, he was just a guy.  Bad things happen sometimes, no matter what you do or who is there to help you.

And I think I dealt so badly with the end of my “dream” because, well…rather than teaching me what I wrote in that second paragraph, he actually reinforced the opposite, made love something in which I could no longer believe; and made me believe that the little piece of me I thought was okay really wasn’t.  I was back to being nothing.  A nothing who had believed in a  lie; who had put a lie on a pedestal and revered it, hid behind it,  rather than face life head on.  That was my fault, not his.   Yes, he called me and asked me to play the game, but I could have said no.  At times  I think I should have said no – a long time ago.

However, had all of that not happened, where would I be today?  Certainly not where I am.  I know now that what the “books” say is true:  no one else can make you happy.  No one else can give you feelings of self-worth.  You must believe in yourself.  It all comes from inside.  Or it doesn’t.  The choice is yours.

I think I am making much better choices these days.  While the past haunts me occasionally (maybe “taunts” me is a better choice of words), it no longer rules me.  It no longer destroys me.  I don’t need someone else to make it okay for me to be who I am.   Perhaps, too, I have learned to recognize the right places and people to whom I should give love, respect, admiration and trust.

And I have truly, finally,  learned that love can be real – and lovely; that if it feels painful or degrading, it isn’t love.  A simple lesson, I am sure some of you will say.  But for me…well, that has been one of the hardest lessons of all.

Perhaps there is hope for me yet.


Posted in Poetry, Ramblings with tags , , , , on 2011/01/15 by R L Burns


for so long.

then she heard it again…

not in a way anyone else would understand,

but she heard it

just the same.

a whisper – a sigh –

her name.

so quiet, a cry –

she thought she imagined it.

until she looked

at the clock.

it was midnight,

the appointed hour,

the witching hour,

the twitching hour.

refuse to listen

she thought,

and took a pill

to put her to sleep,

to protect herself

from the whispers.

the dream that followed

was unsettling.

sunshine, springs,

mountains, wings

of birds – doves,

mockingbirds, robins –

they surrounded her

and followed her,

singing, crying,

begging her to come away

with them – away

from this place

of death, of pain,

of destruction.

she wanted to follow them

but didn’t know how

to fly…

and a hand,

large, warm and callused,

held her there,

pushed her down

by the gravestones,

making her look –

she saw her own name.

she stared at the black

angry sky and prayed –

begged to be set free

from this nightmare

of whispers and danger…

suddenly, the sky cleared completely,

the sun shining down

directly on her –

the birds circling above,

encouraging her.

she shook off the hand

and ran to the top of the hill,

breathing heavily…

stop, lady – please come back

she heard the voice say,

but stop she didn’t,

she had to get away.

the sun followed her progress

lighting her way,

the birds kept on singing

keep going, she heard them say…

til finally apollo appeared

and held out his hand –

she jumped in his chariot

and flew away.


Posted in Poetry, Ramblings with tags , , , on 2010/08/19 by R L Burns

You smile

so seriously –

You laugh

so sweetly –

You glance

so shyly


At the world.


You look

for honesty –

You hope

for sincerity –

You want

to believe


In a dream.




Can you

let yourself –

Can you

lose yourself –

Can you

love yourself

Enough to


Open your heart and try?



Posted in Poetry, Ramblings with tags , , , , on 2010/05/21 by R L Burns

there was nothing more to do

and nothing more to say

so she curled up in a little ball

and tried to roll away

she rolled over lawn and drive

bounced far acoss the land

over mountains, through valleys

far across the burning sand

she rolled and rolled

past monuments iconic

the taj-mahal, la tour eiffel

it truly was ironic

in the red light district of amsterdam

she felt much more at home

or zipping through pere la chaise 

while reciting oscar’s poems

finally, deflated, she rolled to a stop

upon a hill did her journey end

she found herself at home among

the graves of an author’s family and friends

Pretty Little Angel Eyes

Posted in life story, short story, Uncategorized with tags , , on 2010/05/17 by R L Burns

(I apologize in advance for the lack of capitalization.)

 a true story.   you wanted to know secrets, so here is another.

the little girl curled up in her bed and cried.  she wondered when someone or something would come to save her.  at ten years of age, she had already nearly given up, yet something wouldn’t let her entirely sink into the depression that threatened to engulf her every moment of every day.  

one night, when she was had just entered junior high, she dreamt of an angel.  it was an odd dream.  everything was white.  she was sitting in a very comfortable white chair, so cozy, warm and safe that she didn’t want to ever leave.  she fell asleep.  when she woke, she felt refreshed, and was surprised to find that she was covered with a white satin comforter.  she sat up and looked around curiously, but there was nothing to see, really.  it was difficult to tell where the room ended and where it began because everything in the room was white:  the walls, the ceiling (if there was one, but it was hard to tell), the floors, the chair in which she sat, even her nightgown.  oddly enough, she wasn’t afraid at all.  she felt strangely calm and at peace – almost like when she was a little girl in sunday school and they would sing, “jesus loves me this i know…”  suddenly there was a break in the wall across from her chair, and someone entered the room  through what appeared to be a door.  it was a young man.  his hair was shoulder length, wavy, and brown with streaks of gold that caught the white light surrounding them.  he, too, wore white.  she looked at him and was surprised that she could not clearly see his face.  it seemed to keep changing, almost like he was walking towards her through water, if that makes any sense.  even though his features were not clear to her, his beauty, his grace, and even something of his soul  registered in her senses and she felt more calm than she could ever remember feeling.  somehow he was talking to her but she couldn’t actually hear his voice out loud.  she knew, though, that he was telling her that all would be well, that he would soon be with her to protect her.  she, who never truly believed anyone, believed this strange angel, and was comforted.  “sleep now, little one”, she heard him say as he smoothed her hair from her eyes.  warmth and security filled her at his touch.  “sleep.  you are loved.” 

 in the morning when she awoke she felt, finally, hopeful.  maybe he will come today, she thought.  he didn’t.  nor did he come the next day.  she looked for him everywhere, but never saw him again; not even in her dreams.  ultimately she began to doubt.  why wouldn’t she?  everything else in her life seemed to be a lie or a trick, why not him, too?  she kept looking, though, despite her doubts, but the flicker of hope she had felt in the angel’s presence began to fade away – can you imagine how hard it was to look constantly for an angel you hadn’t even ever really seen?  sometimes she wondered if she had passed him by and never known it.  sometimes at school she would think she saw him around a corner, or just outside her field of vision, but she was never sure.  

months later, on the bus ride home from school, as often happened, dani miles and her friends – her “pack” as rose thought of them – barked at her all the way home.  she was the last one to get off the bus except for dani, the bus driver’s daughter.  almost every day they would bark at her like mad and call her a dog.  every day mrs. miles did nothing about it.  every day, rose cried when she walked home from the bus.  and every day rose’s mother would ask her why she let those stupid assholes upset her.  “who the fuck cares what they say?” she would ask rose.  “just ignore them!  quit being so easy to hurt! you’re not a dog, right?  so who cares what they say??  get it?  you are NOT a dog, so quit letting them do this to you!”  

rose tried to do as her mother suggested, tried to ignore it, tried not to cry. but she wasn’t very successful.  

one day dani and her friends barked at her all the way TO school.  this had never happened before, and rose couldn’t figure out what to do about it.  she got off the bus, depressed, ready to cry, and raced into the building, rushing to her locker, trying to outrun the sound of their barks.   as she turned the corner closest to her locker, something made her pull up short.  she stopped and looked around, watching the students milling about; some talking excitedly in groups, some looking sullen and alone.  a little way down the hall stood two boys.  one a bit taller than the other.  they were talking to each other and seemed oblivious to her.  rose studied them carefully while pretending to look in her purse for something.  the shorter boy had very dark, almost black hair.  his bangs were long and he had on a blue long sleeved tshirt with thin, horizontal rainbow stripes in a band across the chest, and blue jeans.  he had nice eyes.  the taller boy had wavy brown hair and was wearing jeans and a baby blue tshirt from some surf shop.  his eyes were amazing.  even from a distance rose could see a heat and intensity in them as he talked with the shorter boy.  he laughed at something that was said to him and she felt something inside of her flutter at the beauty that filled his face when he smiled.  suddenly he tilted his head to the side and put those eyes on her.  something jolted through her.  the hair, something about him…was HE the angel from her dream?  no, couldn’t be.  that angel didn’t exist, she knew that now.  if he did, then why hadn’t he come as he promised?  why did he not stop those kids on the bus from treating her so horribly??  rose looked quickly away, towards the other boy, who was much “safer” to gaze upon. 

a moment later, she turned around and walked away.  as she did so, she was sure she heard in her head, “all will be well soon, my rose.  i promise.”   she shook her head hoping no one else noticed how much she was losing it!  now she was hearing voices and thinking junior high school boys were angels.  “i must be trippin’!” she said out loud.

“you are!”, a boy from her spanish class laughed as he passed her.  

that afternoon on the bus, dani and her friends were in rare form.  as the bus travelled along the country roads towards rose’s house, she thought about the voice she had heard ealier in the day, at the angel’s voice she had finally heard again.  she knew it had been he who spoke to her.  she just knew it.  and if it was her angel, then maybe he would come to her soon.  she smiled and looked out the window, lost in thought.  she was surprised when she glanced up and realized that the bus was more than half empty.  even more surprised when she realized that she had been totally unaware of dani’s dog sounds for some time.  that gave her a bit of comfort.  she sat up straight.  she turned to look at them disdainfully, and then looked away.  for the rest of the ride she said to herself, over and over (in an effort to convince herself, she was sure):  “i am not a dog.  i don’t care what they say or bark or do because i’m not a dog and they are just queer.” 

oddly enough, it started to work. she didn’t care, somehow, that they barked at her or even if they thought she was ugly.  how did that happen, she wondered?  I REALLY DON’T CARE.  THEY CANNOT HURT ME!  she felt like laughing – and so she did.  out loud.  it startled the boy sitting across from her, the one who always threw pitying looks in her direction when dani’s dogs attacked her.  it startled dani and her friends.  they quit barking. 

“ha ha ha”, she thought.  “my angel and my mom helped me know what to do.  ha ha ha.  everything will be fine now.  i just don’t care because they are just so fucking queer!  ha ha ha.”  she was happier than she had been on the bus in several months.    

when mrs. miles pulled up to let her off the bus, rose gathered her books, and walked with a light step to the front of the bus.  as she went down the first step she paused and looked to the back seat where dani still sat.  “have a great evening, dani!”, she said with a smile.  “see you tomorrow!”  the look of shock on her face, and the matching one on mrs. miles’ face, made her laugh out loud with joy.  “you too, mrs. miles!!  see you in the morning!” 

still laughing, rose got off the bus.   

she skipped gaily towards the house.  she couldn’t wait to tell her mother how she had finally “defeated” her dani demon.  she opened her arms wide and spun around, letting the weight of her back pack pull her along.  she skipped and spun all the way up to the front door, giggling, happy, feeling free at last, free at last, thank God, Almighty, i am free at last!  i am not a dog, no matter what they say!  ha ha ha!!  

she threw her bookbag into a chair in the living room and yelled out for her mom.  no answer.  she hurried into the kitchen and found her mom sitting at the table smoking a cigarette and drinking a coke.   “mom, mom, guess what??” rose asked excitedly.  

the eyes that met hers should have been a warning, but she missed it in her joy at finally overcoming her self-loathing.   

“what?” her mother asked.  

“i didn’t cry today!  dani and those guys barked at me on the way TO school and barked at me on the way HOME from school, and they howled, and they called me a dog, but I DID NOT CRY! and i did what you told me:  i decided who cares what they say because i am not a dog!”  she spun around, so filled with joy at this triumph that she could see nothing else.  “i am not a dog!”  

she looked expectantly at her mother, expecting her to be pleased that she had finally managed to work her way through this.  her mother just stared at her for a minute, no expression on her face.  she took a drag of her cigarette and looked rose dead in the eyes as she exhaled.  “who said you aren’t a dog?”  

rose nearly fell to the floor under the crushing weight of those words.  she just looked at her mother in stunned disbelief.  “what, mom?  huh?”  

“i said, who said you aren’t a dog?” her mother sneered.   then she barked.  “woof!”

rose was literally reeling.  she could make no sense out of anything.  somehow everything within her had collapsed and she could feel herself folding inwards, could feel all her fears and self-doubt and self-hatred come rushing back; only this time their strength was multiplied ten-fold.  she looked at her mother, tears streaming from her eyes.  she knew, then, that she would never believe anyone ever again.  “i hate you”, she whispered to her mother.  

“good, because i hate you, too”, her mother spat back at her.  

rose whirled around and ran from the room, ran to her bedroom.  she slammed the door and threw herself on the bed and sobbed.  she cried and cried and cried until there were no tears left within her.  depression and hopelessness found their way back into her heart and she could almost believe she heard them laughing gleefully as they filled in all the empty spaces within her.  emotionally drained, she eventually slept.  

“i promise all will be well, rose.  i am closer to you now.  soon.  all of this will pass.  i promise.  do not despair.”  she heard the angel’s voice in her dreams.  she wanted to believe him, tried to feel the same sense of peace she had felt before, but she couldn’t.  she dare not.  

in the morning, before she left for school, her mom came into the kitchen.  “sorry about yesterday, rose”, she said.  “i don’t know what possessed me to say those things.  and of course i don’t hate you.  i love you and you’re right, you’re not a dog and it is great that you finally understand that.”  she hugged rose, told her to have a good day, and went back to bed.  

rose said nothing, just thought, “nice words.  but they’re a day late and a dollar short, momma, and i don’t believe you, really, anymore. you really do think i’m a dog, just like dani and her friends.  i guess i am.”  

she worried about how she would handle the barking from now on as she hesitantly got onto the bus.  but for some reason, dani and her friends never barked at rose again.  ever.  she was grateful for that, grateful to whatever benevolent spirit had decided to at least spare her further public humiliation.  bus rides were uneventful for the remainder of the year, and rose eventually managed to put the episode away in one of the little “boxes” in her brain into which she stuffed all the things too painful to deal with.   

she never dreamed of the angel anymore, although she still found herself looking for him occasionally, sometimes thinking she saw him just outside her peripheral vision.  ultimately, though, she decided he was a figment of her warped imagination or that he was someone else’s, some other rose’s, angel and had just made a mistake when he visited her.   

at least, that’s what she thought until the beginning of the next school year. the next year, the angel walked into her science class.  as soon as she saw him, she knew him.  realized he was the boy she had seen in the hall on that awful, awful barking-filled day.  the taller boy with the incredibly intense eyes.  my God, they were even more intense up close.  when he spoke to her it nearly brought her to her knees because it was THE voice.  the angel’s voice.  she was terrified to believe.  terrified to look too deeply into those eyes.  terrified to look away.  terrified to hope.  terrified he would hurt her as many others had, most crushingly, her mother.  she knew that if this boy, this angel, told her she was a dog, too, she would literally die.  she thought she should run away, not talk to him, protect herself.  but she couldn’t.  he was her angel and he had promised all would be well.  so, she opened her heart again, put out her hand, and tried to trust one more time.

thank you, christopher, my angel, for saving me so very many times, and for the return of hope and faith.   i had nearly depleted my meager stores of both.


*** this is an older story that i decided to post because my sister just found a statue that looks exactly like my dream angel guarding a little girl asleep in her bed.  pictures of it are below.  the resemblance is uncanny — except my angel had two straps across his chest instead of just one.

My Angel -- The book beside the bed is "Are Angels Real?"


The Back of My Angel - See His Ponytail??

Oh, I Thought…

Posted in short story with tags , , , on 2010/05/16 by R L Burns

Oh, I thought the end would be different…thought there would be beautiful white light and angels surrounding me.  Thought I would see all my dearly departed loved ones – Mater, Gramp, Granddaddy, Grandma, Charley, Nana, Omie, my own lost children – waiting for me in the white mist.  Sadly, none of that was true.  She was alone.  In a colorless, antiseptic-smelling hospital room, her only company a respirator, a heart monitor, and a television somehow stuck on The Golf Channel.  Thank goodness the machines cloaked the whispered descriptions of the green.

She looked toward the door.  It was almost totally closed, but occasionally, she could sense movement as nurses and doctors hurried down the hall to care for their patients; as flower and balloon-laden visitors wearing worried faces trudged down these halls of pain and hopelessness.

Saddened by all she imagined going on around her, she looked away from the door, turned away from the outside, and focused inward.  On her own life, her own trials and tribulations.  She moved away painfully but quickly from those, deciding she would rather not waste her last moments on earth in depressed contemplation of all her mistakes and unfulfilled dreams. 

Oh, I thought it would be different, here, at the end.  Where are the loved ones surrounding me, their whispered words of love and frantic cries for me to stay?  She turned away from those thoughts, too, and instead focused on the positive moments in her life.  She thought of the day her son was born.  Oh, what a scary day that had been, but how happy she had felt when she held him for the first time.  Her mind wandered through their life together:  his first real laugh had moved her to tears; him bringing a blanket downstairs to her mom’s kitchen and curling up at her feet to sleep; waking up in the night to find him sleeping in her bed next to her or on the floor beside her bed, hand extended so he could touch hers.  His high school and college graduations.  His hockey days.  His wedding.  Her grandchildren…She had a smile on her face when she faded to sleep.

A glitch in the respirator’s function brought her awake again, gasping for air.  A few tears fell from her eyes as she tried to remain calm and slow her pounding heart.  As her heart slowed and her breathing returned to what now passed for normal, her mind wandered over other moments in her life…

Memories of her family – her sister, niece and nephew; her mother and father; her grandparents…

Her students over the years – John, Abel, Latoya, Derricka, Yvonne, Theresa, Spearmint, Phelan, David, Devonn, Anthony, Rachel, George, the children she had worked with while in the Peace Corps…

Her friends – Melanie, Rhonda, Melissa, Mark, Martey, Dev, Greg, Rachel, Michelle…

Her lovers – Jeff, Jamie, Mike, Charley.

Her husbands – Jeff and Mike (a different Jeff and Mike).

And, of course, Michael.  Always Michael.  Again a few tears fell, and again her breathing caught in her throat, causing her heart to pound.

Oh, I never thought I would die alone, she cried to herself.  She stared at the heart monitor, struggling to read the numbers.  Her vision was becoming clouded and her worries about the past were fading away.  Despite her realization that the numbers on the monitor were slowly creeping downward, a fragile sense of peace settled over her.  At last I can rest floated through her mind.

The monitor had slowed to sixteen beats per minute.  She could no longer hear anything except her own labored, machine-driven breathing and the ever-so-slow thump of her heart.  She closed her eyes in anticipation, only a vague sense of loneliness lingering in her mind for a moment.

As she lay there, waiting for the last beat of her heart to echo in her mind, she sensed someone else in the room.  Her eyes fluttered open slowly and she tried to focus at something, some shape that was at the end of her bed.

It took a bit for her sight to clear enough for her to make out the figure she had sensed in the room.  Her eyes widened and a smile tried to form on her lips.  It was Him.  Her angel.  The one of whom she had dreamed when she was a little girl.  The angel who had promised to protect her, to love her…It was he.  Still clothed in white, shoulder length brown wavy hair, blazing blue eyes, and a wonderful, inviting, crooked smile. 

She tried to speak but could not.  She almost began to cry in frustration when she heard his voice, the most loved voice of her life, in her head, as had been the case when she first dreamed of him.

“Calm down, my love.  We don’t need to speak.  I hold your soul, have had it in my keeping since the beginning of time.  I can hear everything you think…Do not be afraid.”

“But…I am so glad you are here, my angel.  I have missed you so and I had hoped I would see you once more before I departed this world.” 

“Ah, Rose, you are not alone and never will be again.  I have at last come for you, can at last claim you as my own heart, my own soul.  For all of the time I have held your soul, you have been the guardian of mine, as well.”  He smiled at her.

“Truly?” she thought to him.  He nodded.

“I…oh, I thought you had abandoned me long ago.  I am so glad you are here.  I am not afraid anymore.  I’m not even sad.  I have had a long, useful and wonderful life filled with love and some truly wonderful people.  But I am tired.  And I long to rest…and to know that I will be allowed to spend the rest of…I started to say “my life”, but…”

“Rose, you will have much longer than the rest of your life to spend with me.  We will be together for the rest of time – and beyond.”  Again he smiled at her, and then held out his hand.  “Are you ready, my love?”

Rose glanced at the heart monitor and was surprised to see that her vision had cleared enough for her to see that the numbers had stopped moving and the machine was flashing zero.  Her hearing had returned, too, and she could now hear the alarm on the heart monitor bleating its urgent message to the world.  Glancing to her left, she saw her day nurse come rushing into the room, saw the nurse look for a pulse, then hurriedly press a bedside button, calling for help.  The startling sound of the respirator clicking into life again caught Rose’s attention, and suddenly she realized that she was not in the bed anymore.  Well, she was, but she was also standing at the foot of her hospital bed, her angel next to her.

More nurses and a doctor came rushing into the room and gathered around her body, feverishly working on her, but she knew they would be unsuccessful.  She watched them, fascinated, for a few moments, then turned to her angel.

He looked down at her and smiled, taking her hand.  “Are you ready, Rose?  Ready to truly begin to live?”

Rose looked back at the empty shell of her body once more, then turned her back on the scene forever.  “Oh, Angel.  I thought…I thought I would never see you again!”  Tears filled her eyes and she squeezed his hand tightly.  “Yes, I am ready.  Let’s go.”

Her angel smiled his beautiful, crooked smile, kissed her lightly on the lips, and they left the hospital room together. 


**  This was written in response to a challenge to write a story using the starter, “Oh, I thought…”

Unanticipated Scenarios

Posted in life story, Ramblings with tags , , , , on 2010/03/24 by R L Burns

I’ve played it out a million different ways.  Well, maybe not a million, but at least seventy-seven.  I just don’t know which will happen. Will any of them?  Or will some scenario I didn’t anticipate in any way blindside me from left field?  I just don’t know.  But I HAVE TO KNOW.  More than likely, it will be a lonely, depressing, tear-inducing, lonely trip.  I won’t see him…I mean, I know me, and I am positive I will not be able to resist going by the several addresses – some new, some old – hoping I will catch a glimpse of him; but even if I do…

What is really the point?  I know that’s what you are asking.   Along with, I am sure, Why go somewhere you are not wanted? 

I could say I’m a masochist, a glutton for punishment, that I won’t be satisfied until every dream I ever, ever had is ripped from me and stomped into oblivion.  I could say that; and maybe it’s even true a little.  I need drama – that’s what some people think, I’m sure – so let’s create some. 

But I don’t really think any of that is right…

I think I want to go because – please, please try not to laugh too hard (at least not to my face) – because somehow, I am still the tiniest bit hopeful.  There is still some little spark of the fighter in me left, and she just can’t give up without giving it the old college try one last time.  I feel a desperate need to see the things I saw with him one more time.  For most of my life his world was a huge black hole to me; a mystery, a vortex around which I hovered in the hope that one day a convulsion in the space-time continuum would send him flying out of the shadows and out into the world of light in which I have waited for him.  Time after time after time.

 Go ahead and joke me for that.  It’s okay.  Even I think it sounds lame.  But it’s really how I feel.  My place in this world seems to be to help others.  Always. No matter the cost to myself.  And I have never minded that at all – not the cost, not the personal emptiness, not the inherent loneliness of people coming in and out of my life just long enough to get what they need from me and be well enough to go on.  I was proud.  Aside from my child, it was about the only thing in my life about which I was proud.  So many things made me feel dirty and crummy and stupid – no one’s fault, really, it was just the circumstances in which I found myself. 

The only other thing about which I was singularly proud was the fact that this man loved me.  I cried tears of joy when he came into my life.  Never had I felt such completion, such security, such intense…everything.  Then he was gone.  After that the sun was never as bright, the trilling of the birds in the morning rarely stirred me, the ocean seemed flat. 

When we reconnected in our twenties, I was again so proud.  Of him.  He had broadened his horizons so much; read so many books, wrote such beautiful words, played such beautiful music, drew such beautiful things.  The need to be with him then nearly made me insane…and yet, I was so afraid to go to him.  I freely admit it that I fucked up.  I told him I couldn’t come…I thought I had made it clear that I would come, later, just not right then.  Of course, he took it to mean that I didn’t really love him and I never would.  We both had bad advice from our parents, both of whom said “If He/She really loves you, He/She will find their way here to you.  If He/She doesn’t come then you know He/She doesn’t really love you that much.”

How wrong those parents were.  And how juvenile he and I were.

I tried to call him several times.  I had made up my mind that I was going, consequences be damned.  I had to know if he could really love me.  I whined and cried and begged til my mom bought me a plane ticket.  I didn’t tell him – I was going to, but when I called every day for the three days before I left, whomever answered the phone told me he wasn’t there.  I didn’t believe it.  I figured his family was angry with me for hurting him…again, in their minds.  So I said, fuck it, threw caution to the wind and boarded that damn plane. 

Oh my plans…I was going to call when I got to St. Louis and ask him to come get me.  Wouldn’t he be thrilled and surprised???  I couldn’t wait to see him.  I had been so stupid worrying that he wouldn’t love me because of things that had happened to me…I suppose I have to take responsibility for fucking up everything by putting off going to see him…Yep, it’s all my fault.

 See, I got to the airport in St. Louis, but I was scared to call him, scared he wouldn’t want to talk to me or something, and suddenly I wondered what the hell I was thinking to fly half way across the country without even talking to him.  So I called home and begged my little sister to call his house and tell him I was there and to give him the number of my payphone.  The intervening ten minutes were some of the longest in my life.  I was so scared he wouldn’t answer.  When the phone rang, I pounced on it.

“Hello?”  I asked breathlessly.  When I heard the answering voice I knew something was wrong.  It wasn’t him.  It was my sister.

“Um…are you okay? I mean are there people around or anything?” Her voice sounded awful and I knew I was going to hate what she had to say.

“Steph, just tell me!” I nearly shrieked into the phone.

“Okay,  okay.  Calm down.” Impossible, but I said nothing.  “So I called and a lady answered the phone.”  She stopped.

“And?  What happened???” My voice was trembling now.  I knew this was going to be the worst news ever…

“And I asked if he was there.  She asked who I was.  I told her that I was Steph, your sister.  And she said your name in a really, really not nice voice.  It made me feel creepy but I said yes, your sister.  And then, well… she…”  Again she stopped.

“Just please fucking tell me, STEPH!”

“Okay, okay!”  She was crying now – and so was I, although I didn’t yet know why.  “Okay, so…she said…she said….oh, please don’t make me tell you this, Rob!!”  She was sobbing uncontrollably.

“Steph, please just…just tell me.”

She sniffed long and hard.  “She said I didn’t need to call there anymore and neither did you because he got married a week ago.”  She was crying so hard by then that I could barely understand her.

“He what?” I asked, in a whisper.

“He got mar–rrr–iiiieed!” she wailed.

I just stood there staring at the phone in my hand.

“I have to go, Steph.  Now.”

“Wait!!  What are you going to do??”

“I’ll get a flight. I …just….I…can’t talk.  Gotta go.  I’ll call when I get home. Bye.”

I hung up the phone and literally slid to the floor in a puddle of misery.  Clutching my purse to my chest I wailed like a banshee, heedless of anyone or anything else.  Attendants from one of the counters came over to me to see if I was alright.  To this day I couldn’t tell you what I said, what I did, or how long I sat there waiting to catch a flight home.  The next thing I knew, I was back here and my mom and sister were at the airport to pick me up.  I don’t even know how they knew I was back.  They were just there.  I went home with them and didn’t leave my room for a week.

Unanticipated scenarios.  They always fuck you up.  That’s what is scaring me about going there this time.  But…I have to try one more, one last time.  I gave up before and it has cost me nearly thirty years of a life with him. 

I don’t have any illusions that I will go there this time and he will suddenly decide he can’t live without me for real.  He has decided that his love for me was the evil in his life and it ruined everything else for him.  Which I suppose I understand in a way.  In a way.

But go I will.  I’ll get there on a Saturday, late morning like I always did, and go where I always stopped first.  I have some flowers to change and some headstones to talk to.  Then I’ll spend a night where I went last spring break.  Maybe even drive to the spring we visited – if I can figure out how to get there again.  Maybe this time I won’t be able to hear the thunder in the water because maybe I’m not pure of heart anymore – if I ever was.  And then I’ll stay where I stayed the last time I saw him for a night – two if I can stand it.  Then I will sadly wend my way home.

I hope I will see him.  I hope, no I pray, that God, in His infinite kindness, will make it so I at least get to say good bye in person.  My best scenario is me with the flowers, making things pretty and he drives up.  He fusses at me for coming there, is angry with me.  But then he hugs me and kisses me gently on the lips before going away. 

More than likely, though, it will play out like that fucking trip to St. Louis.  That day-late-and-a-dollar-short trip.  The worst trip of my life. 

But maybe not.  I can hope, can’t I?  Even if it’s stupid to do so, can’t I still hope, a little, that he will know I am there and talk to me?  In two weekends, I’ll be there. 

Please pray for me.  Ask God, Jesus, Mary, Buddha, Muhammed, L. Ron Hubbard, whomever you believe in, ask Them to be kind to me just one more time.