Love lost...love reborn? Can we ever go back to what WAS? It can happen, can't it?
|"I've come to accept it. That's all I'm saying," I told my sister, for the umpteenth time in six months.
"You really expect me to believe you're over him, Megan?" Sarah asked?
"I never said I was over him, Sarah. I'll never be over him. I've just accepted that this is the way it is. The way it has to be." I grimace, noticing that little hint of irritation in my voice.
Sarah sighed. Even from a thousand miles away I know her sign of impatience when I hear it. She's so sure I'm lying to her, and myself. I hold my breath, waiting for her after-sigh comment.
"If you say so, Meg. I'll talk to you in a few weeks," she says before hanging up.
"Why?" I ask the now humming phone. Shrugging, I hit the off button. I suppose she has reason to be skeptical, after listening to my blubbering and groaning for almost three years. But the past six months have been different and I wish she would move up into the present with me. Constantly analyzing me with her modern-day "denial" theory has started wearing thin with me.
Of course I grieved when Jeff left. But I was also angry, feeling every negative emotion possible toward him. It had been a painful, almost unbearable road to travel down. But I have found peace now, a prize I labored hard to earn. And I'm not giving up that peace because Sarah can't understand what I'm feeling or how I've healed.
I guess there's not really any way she could understand. Grief is a mysterious process to go through. A necessary process, however, in order for healing to begin. Trying to explain to her that acceptance of what has happened is the first step in that process has been a waste of time and words.
It has taken me forever it seems to be able to think about Jeff and the two years we spent together, and SMILE. Finally remembering without the pain of lost dreams and useless wishes. Accepting that we have no future together. And grateful for what we shared. Content with the silent bond that still connects us, serenely whispering through my soul for brief moments in time. Revealing that at that moment he's remembering too.
I suppose someone watching from the sidelines, might find the shift in my emotions somewhat radical. I consider it a relief.
Replacing the phone in it's cradle, I glance outside. It's a gorgeous October evening, so I hit the timer switch on my coffee machine before I step outside on the deck.
A refreshing breeze encases me as I gaze out at the ocean. The peacefulness I've come to know here fills me as I make my way down to the sand.
I sit just far enough away from the water so my toes and the tide can play tag, as I lose myself in the rhythm of the sea. The Atlantic has become, over the past months, my therapist, my best friend and my refuge.
The vastness of the sea and the unending horizon have become a source of comfort and hope for me since my move to my Carolina beach house. It's as if the sea has given me absolution for not knowing the answers to all my questions about life. Reminding me in its magnitude that life is too massive to search for answers to every "Why?". That some answers are too deep to reach, too distant to be heard.
"You're just running away, Megan," Sarah had informed me. "Trying to find A place where you can hide from the pain."
To a certain extent she was right and I told her so, but I added, "This is not the first time I've been hurt Sarah. I think I've lived long enough to know that I can't run away from what I carry in my heart. The memories and the hurt are not going to stay in New York if I move." The truth is, though, that I moved south because I needed a reason to quit waiting. I feared my life would become suspended in time just waiting for the phone to ring or his car to pull into the driveway. "If I move, Sarah, I won't expect him to come. I won't sit and wait."
The hope in me didn't leave as soon as I got here, but it slowly began to fade. Jeff would have no idea where I was and I came to believe he wouldn't even try to find me. I came to realize that he was only here through me, that he'd never be here with me.
Sitting here now, hugging my knees, I recall the hours of uncontrollable sobbing that I spent in this spot the first few weeks I was here. Smiling because I can now allow the memories to surface without the tears, without being torn to shreds inside.
I watch as the coming darkness transforms the ocean, giving rise to the overwhelming mysteries it possesses. Though it is my friend, it is an entity with a power due tremendous respect. I breathe in a portion of that power as my day also comes to an end.
There have been different times when I've felt Jeff's presence close by me. Laying in bed this morning, I feel him once again. In these moments time and distance have no substance. We connect for a brief instant, and time appears to stand still while we embrace. I fantasize that I feel this presence because Jeff is, in that second, thinking of me.
The smell of coffee brewing fills my senses and I feel for my robe at the foot of my bed. Wrapping it around me against the slight chill of the early morning, I carefully make my way through the darkness into the kitchen.
My eyes slowly adjust in the lingering moonlight, patches of it glimmering through my kitchen. I've always felt turning on lights are an intrusion to the natural dawning of the day, as darkness is leisurely dispelled by the morning light in symbolic hope. I have always loved watching life yawn and stretch itself into a new day.
Experiencing it here has given me a new respect, not only for its beauty, but for the power each new day releases as it appears on the distant horizon.
I glance out at the deck, where I've sat the past few months watching each new dawn dance on the ocean, listening to the water lapping on the beach. Each one gently crashing down, stirring the sand and quietly returning to the sea. Drawing with it what is no longer needed on the land. With each wave I have allowed the calmness of the morning tide to wash away the accumulation of clutter in me, leaving only what is needed. Dividing what is real from what is fantasy, protecting the memories and washing away the pain that could distort and destroy them.
An uneasiness stirs in me as I pour my first cup of coffee because the brief moment of feeling Jeff's presence has not past. Its never lingered quite this long before. Usually he passes through me in a moment, like a thought that quickly crosses your mind and then is gone. I shake off the negative image that comes into my mind, attempting to explain this new experience. It's not an answer that's acceptable to me. I smile as I realize that darkness has not completely left me.
As I open the door, placing my bare feet on the cool wooden deck, I see a form standing at the water's edge. I wonder for just a moment, if "denied hope" has transformed a stranger into who I want to see, but in my heart I know it's Jeff.
At the sound of the screen door opening, he turns, standing at the water's edge, looking up at me. The full moon is bright enough behind me to reflect off the ocean, illuminating him in a soft glow of light. His jacket is slung over his shoulder, a pair of tennis shoes dangling from his left hand. His jeans are rolled up to his calves, the bottoms wet from the ocean. He's dropped a few pounds and there are wisps of gray at his temples. The only major differences I can see besides the peacefulness on his face.
Except for a gentle breeze blowing our clothing and hair, we both stand anchored, unable to move. We are facing each other, eyes locked, searching the depths of each other's souls for answers to questions too hard to ask.
His eyes take my breath away, just as they always had. Our gaze still having the intensity it had during our two years together, capable of exposing our most private thoughts and emotions to each other. At times too frightening to cope with, we would gaze and then look away. But this morning it was exhilarating, causing my heart to pound loudly in my chest.
Words are stuck in my throat, taking forever, it seems, to find my voice. My body begins to tremble and the words finally come in a quivering squeak, "How long have you been out here?", I ask.
Jeff stands completely still as he answers, "A few hours." He takes a deep breath as he adds, "You look amazing."
I try to smile, remembering how he used to say that in the morning even when I looked like I had slept in a wind storm. But my face seems frozen, unable to show any emotion. "So do you," I tell him.
We stand, eyes still locked, in a few more seconds of silence. I am grateful for the cool breeze, hoping that it is camouflaging my trembling body. Having him stand here, so near, and not being wrapped around him, feels so unnatural to me and yet I cannot seem to move toward him.
My protective wall is up and is keeping my feet from running into his arms. Yet my body is aching to feel him against me, as it has so many times since he left.
I can hear Sarah's warning racing through my head, "He'll never really leave his wife, Meg. Even if he comes back, it won't be any different from the way it was before. He'll leave and go back to her again."
"No, he won't," I exclaimed. "I told him I didn't want him to come back until he knew he wanted me. And only me!"
I wanted to smack the smirk off her face, remembering how she asked, "Do you really think he believed you?"
"Yes," I whisper now, hoping beyond hope that he did.
The trembling in my body has ceased. Now it is shaking, almost violently. 'Calm down, Meg,' I tell myself. 'Get a grip. It's a simple question. Calm down and ask it.'
In the silence I am suddenly aware of my friend. The sound of the ocean calling out to me. The tide rushing up on the sand, eager to carry my clutter out into the open sea. Calm begins to wash over me, hushing Sarah's remarks and my fears. Hope begins to rise up from the quiet depths inside of me. I take a few deep breaths of salt air, allowing the calm of my friend to feed me with its peacefulness. The courage to ask surfaces.
"What do you want, Jeff?", I ask, tightly holding my hope and my heart in a protective grasp.
With a serene smile on his face, the look of a man who finally knows the truth, Jeff stares into me, drawing me into him with his eyes as he answers, "You, Meg. Only you."
My feet can't hurl me down the steps and into his arms fast enough...
And yet, once again, I don't end up in his arms this morning. Stirring slightly so I don't completely wake up, I groggily reach out and slam down the snooze button. As I snuggle up closer to Jim, I smile, feeling his arm reach around to hold me close, and think, "Thank God, I never did end up in Jeff's arms."