Friday, April 13, 2012

Soul Deep

It was him.  She felt it, recognized it, deep inside where there were no lies, no secrets, just truth and awareness.  Lifting a trembling hand to her pounding heart, she focused on the man.  Across a short span of grass from where she stood frozen on the path that circled the lake,  he was pushing a small child in a swing, the happy sounds of the little girl’s laughter made him grin broadly.  The sight nearly took her down.

Moving off the path, she dropped abruptly onto a park bench, her mouth suddenly parched, as dry and dusty as lost hope.  He still wore his hair long; with each push of the swing, the dark waves moved gently around his shoulders, brushing against his jaws.  She watched him tuck a long tendril behind an ear, wondered if his eyes were still hazel with flecks of brown oak and golden amber.  Her dream memories.  Closing her eyes, blocking out the sight of him, she tried to breathe through the pain, though the urge to curl into herself and moan in anguish was nearly overwhelming.

She had been waiting her whole life—born waiting—for him.   The sacred place in her soul, his place, had remained unclaimed.  As she grew into adulthood, she realized in this time, this life, they might not find each other; perhaps there was other knowledge to explore, instead of each other.  So she had married, raised children, become a widow; for the most part, a good life.  Deep in the dark of night, she had still hoped, but he hadn’t come.  All she had were dream memories, of times gone, lives past.

And now, here he was, a man somewhere in his thirties.  A generation removed from hers.  Tears glittered as she opened her eyes.  The little girl looked enough like him to clearly be his daughter, then an attractive young woman, ice cream dripping off cones and over her fingers, came across the grass toward them.  “Help!” she laughed.  He pulled his daughter off the swing in a wild acrobatic move and they went to lend a hand.

Gripping the bench until her knuckles went white, the sound of the child’s delighted giggles pierced her heart like shards of glass.   What was the reason for this?  Why was she supposed to see this, when it was too late?  Reaching for calm, breathing deeply, she eventually was able to just watch the couple, feel their contentment, almost smile when the little girl turned, ice cream smeared all over her face.

Thoughtfully, she considered that maybe this wasn’t about her.  Maybe this was his time to learn, to understand, to do something--separate from their long and enduring past.  That possibility made her feel slightly better.  She gave herself a moment or two to savor, to yearn...for his arms tight around her, the hunger of his lips, the smoke of his voice whispering love into her ear.   

When they finished their ice creams and the little family began to walk away, she sighed, a deep and heartfelt sound, and slowly got to her feet.  Their time would come again.  Not in this life, but in another.  She walked toward home, each step making her feel lighter, easier.  After all the years of her life, she had finally found him.  And it was enough that he was happy.

The man abruptly stopped, pressed a hand to his chest, his heart racing.  “What’s wrong, honey?” his wife asked, concerned.  He turned, confused, looked behind him.  All he saw was an older woman, tall and fit, briskly walking away from them with sure and confident strides.

“I don’t know,” he said, “I just felt, for a second, that I was…”

“You were…what?”

“Lost."  He paused.  "Or forgetting something, missing something important.” 

As his wife frowned, trying to understand, he spared a last, quick look down the path, but the woman was gone.  Shaking his head, he lifted his daughter into his arms, and took his wife’s hand.  Smiling, he said, “Brain freeze from too much ice cream.   Let’s head home.”