I turned in at a red mailbox on a side road just off the highway. Big chunks of gravel spun against the fender of the car. Sweeping branches of fir trees rubbed against the doors. A rabbit ran furiously across the road. Pigeons rose up and over my head. Big atches of blue sky crowned above me.(tncms-inline)a85882c8-9610-487a-9bd6-ed5539b82491(/tncms-inline)
This was somewhere in the foothills east of Seattle, long past the last exit or turning arrow, far beyond the nearest store or gas station. The hills were old (for this part of the country), smooth and round and covered in scrub bush and Scottish pine. I had come here this Sunday afternoon because my father had died after many, many years alone without my mother, who had passed away now 30 years ago. And I guess it was my job to figure out what to do with all his stuff.
I pulled myself up hanging onto a rickety handrail. I stumbled through a sea of garbage, most of which I couldn’t recognize. I turned over an apple crate and parked myself in the living room. I was all by myself.
I’ll tell you just a little about what I found among my father’s papers, years after he was gone:
To my sweet Valentine. It’s so hard being without you. I miss you so much, I don’t know what to do. You are at my heart’s core, as dear to me as breath and morning light. You are always so pretty and so smart and so wise, I’ve loved you from the minute I saw you, before I even knew who you were. You fill my empty heart and make me whole. You are a bright and shining star. You and I are a whisper in time, put here to mend the heart and soften the edges of other peoples’ pain.
I am so sad when you’re gone. When I need you I will try to be brave. When I have to be strong, I will remember your quiet courage and gentle spirit. When I long for beauty, I will think of your soft eyes and tender touch. And when there is too much night, and too much sorrow, I will treasure your picture, and your memory, forever.
I give you my heart, because we’ve already shared its passion. I give you the circle of my past, because once upon a time it crossed into yours. And I give you my love, most of all my love, because you had it from that early age of ours when we were but new to each other, and never knew its name.
We were born on the same star, you and I, when the dear winds moved us, and cradled our eager souls in the hard arms of the ones we loved. This thing we do represents the celebration of our lives, and is a symbol of the bond that comes from a shared spirit.
And so we give ourselves to the keeping of this moment, before God and within His house, if joined or alone, across miles and time, with each other or another, whether love lives on or it wearies, with words or without, in life or in memory, in passing or enduring, for all time.
So that was it. A special sort of something, I guess it was. And perhaps it was for my mother, I don’t really know, but it was very sweet. Since (I guess) that hardly anybody knew about it, that I would keep it for myself. Who knows? Maybe I could pull it off, and some day I would slip it into a bunch of flowers or something, and I’ll bet you it would work for me.
But it was for my mother, it was, coming from a man who normally didn’t talk like that. My father was an old school guy, where a man usually kept his innermost feelings to himself. But there comes a time for every man, I guess, to recognize the times when saying how you really feel is more important than anything else, and if you don’t do something about it, then maybe it will be lost forever.
There’s not much more than that. So I figured I ought to talk to you about it, to share it with you, so that you can remember that special moments happen to every guy, and he’s a fool if he doesn’t do something about them. A man is like a shout, you see, and a woman is like a song.
Don’t let those times pass you by. Being lonely is hard and cold, sometimes, and if you’re waiting for reincarnation to give you another chance in another life, you just might come back as a mosquito. Or a slug.