I didn’t marry young. As a result I saw some of the world and kept company with an assortment of people in my younger days. There were a lot of laughs then and some tears. As anyone who loved before can tell you, my mind is now a puppet theatre of memories, cast with walking shadows, strutting and fretting in the fog of my past.
One of those shadows is gone. I found out a few days ago that he died ten months ago. A casualty of these misebgotten wars that have become a never-ending toll of blood we must pay.
He was not the one who got away. Instead he was the one from whom I got away. I won’t share the details here but know that it was an affair so complicated, so labyrinthine that my closest friends are shaking their heads about how much they didn’t know about that story as I relive it upon learning of his death.
I don’t talk about him. Years ago, I asked him not to talk about me and promised to extend him the same courtesy. There are a few select anecdotes I tell where he is the punchline, but sanitized and rendered anonymous. I hadn’t spoken to him in nearly a decade. I don’t think of him much. Sometimes, though, I do. The news of his death, literally, came to me in a dream so vivid that I had to look him up upon waking to see if it was true. It was. And I was not surprised. But there was a life he led long after I clicked down the receiver after our last conversation, the one where I told him we would not be speaking again. His death leaves me with questions and a barrage of memories and a sense that the earth shifted just a touch below my feet.
It all could have been different if I hadn’t drawn the line I drew, the line between telling him yes and telling him no more, never anymore. I am so grateful that I drew that line, that I never crossed back into the maelstrom that was him, although every moment with him was extraordinary. Painful, dangerous, wrong for me, but indisputably extraordinary.
To combat the tilt and shift of his death I spent the weekend wrapping my arms tightly around my ordinary life. There is no joy like playing catch with my son. There is no pleasure greater than my husband beside me in the night. There are no voices sweeter than my mother and my sister over the telephone. There is no sight more comforting than my home. This is my life. This is the life I chose. This is the life I love.
May he rest in peace. May I live in peace.