Four. Evv. Arr
(Listen to a beautiful reading here!)
The night sky was beautiful and alive and ah, so were we.
I looked up at a thousand stars shining splendid
and I looked at your face, veiled in white and streaked with stardust
and I knew that there was nowhere in the world that I would rather be.
But that was before.
That was before.
When I was young, I used to believe that all stories have a happy ending. I used to believe that at the end of the day, the guy gets the girl, the cowboy gets to ride off into the sunset, evil is defeated, etc etc so on and so forth.
The thing is, stories, real life stories, don’t have an end. The credits don’t roll once you reach your moment of bliss. Life just keeps going, and life goes through seasons, and in the winter things die.
Before, I used to walk down to the creek behind our house in the early morning mist and whisper my secrets, trusting that the burbling waters would carry them downstream to you.
After, I didn’t want anything to do with secrets ever again.
The priest told me that the only thing evil could not abide was forgiveness. But who do you forgive when you are the one who did the evil?
When I told you my heart, it took me all day to muster the courage
and the roses were wilted from the heat and I stumbled all over my words
and you took me in your arms and you kissed me on the nose and that was all that needed to be said.
When I told you about her, it came spilling out all at once
and you dropped your wine glass and we looked at the spreading red and the shattered glass
and you rose without a word and left without slamming the door and that was all that needed to be said.
On the first day of my honeymoon you looked at me and said “We are going to be married forever. Forever. Four. Evv. Arr. Arr. Arr Matey.” You stood on tiptoes to kiss me on the nose and solemnly said “I am a pirate and I am in love with you.”
The phone rang as I was sweeping up the glass. It was her. I told her to call me back and walked to the creek. When it rang again, I threw the phone into the black water.
You and I married at midnight, during the full moon, on a hilltop away from the city underneath a universe of dancing lights. Your white dress was all of the stars and I had a love big enough for the whole sky.
The full moon and dancing stars was ten years ago. The black water and broken glass, two. I couldn’t make forever last one measly decade.
I never talked to her after that night. I never talked to you, either. The strongest prisons are made not of iron but of shame.
The thing with stories is that in stories you have good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains. But in life, you just have people. People who hurt and who heal, people who love deeply but need love even more deeply.
On the last day of our honeymoon, I awoke to find you kneeling by the bed. You kissed me on my feet and my hands and my head and you said “You are my husband and I will love every part of you.”
and I sobbed and you held me and that was all that needed to be said.
It took a death to break the silence. My father and my aunt and the whole multitude of the heavenly host were waiting to greet my mother when she passed from this life into that universe of stars. But in that hospital room waiting for her to make the crossing, it was only beeping monitors and white walls and me. Many friends had come the first day, and some had come the second, but then it was just me. Who wants to help someone watch their mom die?
On the last day of my mother’s life on earth, I awoke to find you praying on the other side of her bed, her hand clasped in yours. I watched you for half of eternity and then you raised your head and whispered “I loved her too.”
You were there when my mom’s eyes opened for the last time and the most joyful “Yes!” escaped her lips along with her soul and then I was crying and you were holding me. You were there when the doctor came in and when the doctor left and you were there in the waiting room when I was holding a cup of cold water and trying to understand and you were there in the waiting room when I was holding a cup of lukewarm water and trying to understand and then you drove me home and then you were not there.
Yesterday the priest said that forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream where the broken is made whole again, the soiled made clean.
Today I bought the nicest roses I could find and drove and drove and drove while the flowers wilted. First I cried and then I prayed and then I knew.
I pulled up to the house with the creek in back. I got out and knocked and when the door opened I fell to my knees and I kissed you on your feet and your hands and your head and I told you that I had hurt every part of you.
The silence stretched for half an eternity, and my grief was big enough for the whole sky.
And then you kneel down. You kiss me on the nose and you kiss me on my head and my hands and my feet and you say “Four. Evv. Arr” because you are a pirate and you love me and you love me and you love me and then I’m crying and you are crying and you love me and that is all that needs to be said.