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.

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17 comments for “Elegy

  1. August 30, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Beautifully written. As always.

  2. August 30, 2010 at 10:08 am

    i have someone like that in my past. I wish him happiness, I think of him now and again. What we had was incredible, not healthy but it was incredible, every moment. You wrote this well, I am glad you drew the line. Life could have been so very different.

  3. August 30, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Through your words, I feel your conflict. Someone from my past recently lost his battle as well. Not with the same history, and not in the same way, but eerily the same with regard to the shift in my world. For whatever brought about this belated elegy, I appreciate it and am sending you extra thoughts of peace.

  4. August 30, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Bravo. I have one of those. I have no idea where he even is…

  5. August 30, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I love this post. And we all have those past shadows, don’t we. I am sorry and glad that yours is resting now.

  6. August 30, 2010 at 11:40 am

    wow. i love the line: His death leaves me with questions and a barrage of memories and a sense that the earth shifted just a touch below my feet.

    Just a touch. But the Earth moved. I have people in my life whose death would do that to me, too.

  7. August 30, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Beautiful, and from such depths.

    I had this happen to me about 5 years ago, and it saddened me to the point where I couldn’t even speak for 2 days.

    Even with all the pain and horror of some of those times with him, I still lived more in those 3 years with him than at any other time in my life.

    Still, to this day.

    How sad at these losses.

  8. August 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm


  9. KLZ
    August 30, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    May we all live in peace. A death is hard no matter what your relation with the person was…hope you are well.

  10. August 30, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    what a beautifully written post. you are so smart & insightful.

  11. CDG
    August 30, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    What a beautiful and eloquent goodbye.

  12. August 30, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Such a challenging grief. Thanks for sharing in such a beautiful way.

  13. August 30, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    This is beautiful. What a wonderful way to pay your respects.

  14. August 30, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Eloquence defined.

  15. August 30, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    A beautifully written post! I too have removed people from my life, and I hope, if and when I find that they may be gone, that I handle it as gracefully as you have!

  16. August 30, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    So beautiful and sad and happy at the same time. Happy that you can look back and appreciate what you have now. Excellent writing.

  17. August 30, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    oh, my friend… your words are beautiful and i hope you have peace in your heart.

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