"She's died."he whispered.
"I'm sorry. Are you all right?" My eyes go over to him before I do. I don't know if he needs me. I also don't know if he wants me.
"I am fine. I am sad for her family, but I am fine. It was a long time ago."
"How did you find out?" He turns away.
I go to him, take his hand. He smiles, pulls me down and puts his arm around me. He was right. It was a long time ago but she was still a part of our lives. She walked into our home during conversations. When organising closets, where old treasures were hidden, her shadows were at the back of shelves, contained in dusty photo albums. She was even reflected in passwords. I was reminded of her often.
You don't know this little one, but your father was married before. I am not sure how or when we will tell you. I suppose that I will start with saying something as to he met her when he was young. He had finished school, got a good job and he had dated her for a while. It was the next step in the progression. I don't know how much the need for love factored in. He thought he loved her. It was just not the love used to sell cinema seats. She was a few years older, extremely organised with a plan and she shared her plan with him. It was to marry, set up home and children were as yet to be decided. I suppose it was inconsequential that she didn't love him. I wonder if it passed her thoughts as she walked down the aisle. I wonder if she had a momentary pause, a trip in her step. Why did she continue? Was it the daunting task of returning presents, or was it just easier to stay to continue forward.
I think that people need to love, little one. I think that she must have realised that. Loneliness is pervasive, it infects.We can adhere to a routine, so we don't have to think about that which does not exist, but the monotony is crushing. I suppose that she didn't believe in monotony because she found him, the other man. Which your father found out about from an angry colleague, who asked him how he could not know, who told him everyone knew. He hitched a ride home that night with friends, shutting his eyes behind sunglasses, pretending to sleep but thinking about her, thinking about where he was placed in pub conversations and how long through the gossip before others laughed at his ineptness. How many of his "friends," of her "friends," sighed with a small tut as they passed. He went home to look for that missing piece that piece of him that would have captured her love. She found him rummaging through the dresser drawers. He turned and asked her for the truth. She turned afraid to give it but she did.
Whether it was fear of change, fear of loss, fear of expressing failure to others they stayed put, hidden in their crumbling home. He slept on the sofa, in the spare room, spaced between her bedroom and the front door. At night, she would gaze at him from the doorway, he would, again, pretend to be asleep, so she wouldn't approach. When a course came up, he volunteered, packed his bags, the car and missed her cheek when giving a quick kiss good bye.
As he arrived at the training school and entered the classroom, he saw her, the other woman. He stared at her thinking that she would never catch him because, to this sort of woman, he stood invisible. She was beautiful and she smiled and she laughed. She turned her head, eyes looking at his little glass bubble and the boy inside, "Hello," she whispered. She turned back, training had started. Your father looked around and behind him.
She came to his room that night, under the guise of studying and he believed her, until she kissed him. He told her that he had a piece missing and that no one could love him until he found it. However, he forgot to say it aloud. He simply kissed her back. He smiled. His first spontaneous smile, since eating wedding cake. It didn't feel awkward, nor did he have to consider how long it stayed. In fact, he couldn't not smile. He was finally let in to the secret room where people seemed kinder, songs made sense. He wanted to get up in the morning. He forgot that the world was patterned, predictable. It was fantastic.
At the end of the course, he helped her into her car, placed her bag in the backseat. They stared, until she looked away, smiling. She drove from the parking lot and your father didn't see her again because he wasn't suppose to. What was needed had been done, he stopped looking for the missing piece. He refused to let go of his new world, the one she gave to him. He packed his car and drove off and when it came to turn left to go to his home, he turned right.
Your father would call his first wife that night and tell her not to worry, he would be there in the morning to collect his things and he did. Packed in one of the many bags was a card telling of her sadness and regret. It was the first honest thing she gave him. However, it didn't balance out what she took from him.
Through this brief encounter, he held on to his greater awareness of what life could be and then he shared it with me and from that we created your home.
We talked about this other woman from time to time. I never felt jealous, only grateful. I asked him to contact her and tell her the impact she had. He did, to a degree and he told her how life for him was now different. She was thankful and she told him that she too found someone to love. She also told him that she ran marathons but she was getting more tired as the cancer grew. This reminded him again that the world held no logic. How he wished it did, how he wished she never needed to say that last sentence. Life got in the way of their continued correspondence and when he looked for her again there was only a message left by her husband.
I grieve the loss of this woman. The loss of her kindness in this world. I thank her donation to my life. I wondered about others she affected. I mourn for those that she can no longer affect.