Our honeymoon never ended. Until...
|A Not-So-Typical Evening|
It was a comfortably cool Thursday in September, 1979. I got home from work, shared a “glad to be home” bear hug and kiss with Linda, and changed into more comfortable clothes. Then she and I jumped in the truck and headed for her parents’ house for dinner and an evening of cards and family time. We arrived about 6:30 P.M.
”Hi!” Linda called as we let ourselves in the door.
”Hi, honey!” mom called from the kitchen.
”C’mon in, you two!” dad invited from the family room. I joined him at the bar while Linda helped her mom put the finishing touches on dinner.
”How’re you two doing?” dad asked as I watched him finish a round of Solitaire.
"Just fine, dad,” I said warmly.
”Any news yet?” he asked. “Then again, I think Squeek would’ve been shouting for joy so loud we’d hear her all the way over here if you knew for sure, right?” he laughed.
”Right,” I chuckled. “I have no doubt about that, dad.“ Then, a little more seriously, I added, “No, we’re not pregnant yet, but we’re sure trying.”
“You can say that again,” Linda laughed from the adjacent kitchen. “I want a baby so bad I’m surprised Jim’s put up with me lately,” she laughed again.
”You make it sound like you’re after him every night,” mom laughed.
”I almost am,” Linda conceded, blushing heavily.
”But I’m not knocking it, either,” I laughed. That little comment broke us all up with laughter.
”Okay, Yachtzee, Jim,” mom called. “It’s on the table.” Dad put the cards down and we joined the ladies.
After an excellent dinner of cottage ham, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, and Jell-O for dessert, we gathered around the bar. We split into pairs, in various combinations, two of us competing in rounds of Double Solitaire at the bar while the remaining two took each other on in rounds of “solids and stripes” and “8-ball” at the nearby pool table.
After we’d exhausted every possible pairing at those two endeavors, we gathered back at the bar to finish the evening off with a few rounds of Runs and Sets. As dad dealt the cards, one of his other favorite subjects came into the conversation. “Lin, where are you and Jim in the Eastern Star line this year?”
”We should be elected to the second position chairs next month, dad. From what I’ve been told, everyone thinks we’ll get it on the first ballot. And if we do, I’ll only have one more year to get ready for my year as Worthy Matron.”
”You’ve got the right attitude looking at it that way, too, honey,” he said warmly. “A year isn’t nearly as much time as it sounds.”
”I remember, dad. I remember the rush you had getting ready for your year as Master of the Lodge in 1971.”
”Right. And you’re where in the Lodge line this year, Jim? Senior Deacon, right?”
”Yep. Those strange names of dignitaries we only see a time or two a year are going to drive me nuts at introductions, too,” I laughed.
”Right, but that’s likely to be only at Inspection. Relax. You’ll do fine. I’ll help you rehearse them later on in the year if you want.”
”You've got a deal, dad!” We all laughed.
As was the case about 75% of the time, Linda beat out all of us to win the Runs and Sets rounds.
“You two um… planning on anything special when you get home?” mom teased.
“MOM!” Linda shouted, embarrassed even though she knew it was only in fun.
”As a matter of fact, we are,” I piped up, smiling.
Linda looked at me wide-eyed. “Again??” she laughed.
”Why not?” I laughed back. “You brought it up first last night, so I thought I’d give you a break and beat you to it tonight.”
”Oh, YOU!” she laughed, punching me with her elbow as she loved to do. Then she looked me in the eye, a twinkle evident in both of hers. “Are you serious, honey?”
”Sure, Lin. As badly as you want the baby, why pass up a perfectly good opportunity? We’ll be home early enough.”
”You’re on,” she grinned. “Thanks, honey!”
”You don’t have to thank me, Beautiful,” I said, lovingly. “The look in your eyes right now is all the thanks I need. I love you.” She blushed again.
”You know, you two,” dad began, “it’s really nice to see you two this much in love after eleven years. A lot of couples have settled into a routine by now. I’m glad you two haven’t.” He smiled affectionately at us both.
Linda and I looked at each other. She beat me to this one. “We never will be in a routine, dad. I’m very proud of what Jim and I have. We couldn’t afford a honeymoon other than our wedding night at the Sheraton-Gibson thanks to his parents' attitude toward our relationship, but it doesn’t bother me because our life is like one. We’re still as much in love now as we were then.”
”I know you two are,” mom interjected. I only have to look at you two to tell that.”
”Yeah, I’m very proud of what we have, too,” I said, softly and lovingly stroking Linda’s long jet-black hair for a second.
After a few more minutes of small talk, we headed home. It was just after 10:00 P.M.
When we got home, we made sure everything was in order for our routine the next morning, and headed for the bedroom. Linda began unbuttoning her blouse. “Allow me, gorgeous!” I said, lovingly brushing her hand away and taking over the task.
”Ah, the Royal treatment again tonight, huh?” she laughed. “That’s four nights in a row you’ve undressed me. I could get used to this!”
”Good. I want you to.” I smiled lovingly.
”Now, Jim, how would you really feel if you had to do this every night?” she asked, half smiling, half seriously.
”Darling, think about the person of whom you’re asking that, my love,” I laughed. “You’ve got a guy here who’s still head-over-heels in love with you after 11 years, who thoroughly enjoys showing how much he loves you by doing everything he can for you after every seizure you have around him, and who relished every minute of undressing you, bathing you, and dressing you for five weeks straight when you had that cast on your hand.”
”Geez, Jim, I forgot about that cast,” she said, looking quickly at her left hand. She continued, now a little more thoughtfully, and emotionally. “And I will never be able to thank you enough for the way you so willingly look after me after every seizure. You really do like undressing me, too, don’t you?”
Preparing to pull her slacks down, I stopped a moment, took her head in my hands, and looked lovingly into her eyes. “Yes, darling, I adore every moment of this. I really do.”
”I’m so glad I found you, Jim,” she said warmly as tears filled her eyes. She laid her head on my shoulder. “And I’ve always been so very, very glad that you didn’t walk away like all my other ‘friends’. I thank God every day that my epilepsy and the seizures that come with it didn't drive you away too. And I love you even more because I had told you about it and still, just a week later, you still asked me to marry you. And you've never let me down. I don't think I'll ever be able to thank you enough. I love you!”
”I’m the lucky one here, Squeek,” I said as I caressed her gently. I could never find anyone as loving, or as devoted as you, sweetheart. I love you, too.”
As we held each other close I ran my hands up and down her back a few times. Then I ran my hands up her back one more time to unhook her bra, and gently resumed undressing her.
A short while later, after making love, I reached out for her. My arm fell on empty bed space.
That’s when I opened my eyes and found that she wasn’t laying next to me. It took less than a second - a horrible, painfully hellish second - to realize that she had never been with me that night. That it was actually late July, 1980 and that she had passed away over four months earlier. That that entire wonderful evening I’d just enjoyed so very much with her had all been a dream. A wonderful, meaningful, affectionate, loving dream. A memory. Straight from our real life years together. Word for word, event for event. That realization, and the painful reminder that came with it - that we never had the chance to have that baby - broke my heart. I buried my head in my pillow and cried myself to sleep.
Until I see you again, my love, Rest in Peace, Linda darling.
P.S. I love you.
She had passed away at 9:45 PM on Monday, March 3rd, 1980, at the young age of only 30. I was 31. She had a seizure in our bathroom and struck her head on the tile wall during the first stage, when she was still moving around. She died instantly. I came home an hour and 45 minutes later and found her.
I had begun experiencing these “flashback” dreams within two weeks of her death, and roughly four out of seven nights a week, give or take a few. And I continue to experience them anytime I’m living alone, even now, and still cry myself to sleep when they happen. They are simply too vivid, too strong, too real, too meaningful for me not to lose control every time.
But the tears are well worth it, even today. Because these wonderful, lifelike, vivid and so very meaningful dream-memories also serve to remind me of how deep, how strong, and how very, very meaningful and important our love and devotion to each other really was. And is.
Ed. Note: Thankfully, those dreams have not been around for about ten years now. Only the warm, meaningful memories of our years together are there. And those will never be forgotten. JAW 10/02/2004