Oh, February, why do you taunt me so badly? For others, your month is one of love and Valentines but for me, when you come around, I wonder why I still live in Montana. Its chilling temperatures and snow-covered mountain peaks seem to take my heart back to a place I don’t want to go.
You remind me of the thorn on the stem of a red rose….
I see a man walking by my house that vaguely resembles the One my heart loved. Somehow I barely recognize this man. Years of drug abuse has had its way with him, causing his facial features to change and his hair to prematurely grey. He walks with a limp and his eyes have lost their luster. Everything he owns is carried in a bag on his back. The children run to him as if he just saved the world in some Marvel movie. He passes by our home only a few times a month, for a few minutes at a time, yet he resembles a fracture of the hero they once knew.
If only they had known you the way I once knew you….
Dark hair, crystal blue eyes, and a big, beautiful smile found me when I needed love. My heart skipped a beat the first time I met you. I didn’t know you but I knew somehow our paths had been destined to cross, so many years ago, almost twenty now. We were both so young, in our early twenties. I had worked at the sawmill for awhile before you were hired. I had seniority over you and trained you on the roundtable. I had been praying for a man like you and there you were, standing right before my eyes in all of your charming ways. Instantly our chemistry ignited and we couldn’t take our eyes off of each other. We always wanted to be near each other. We both felt it from the start. One hot, summer night I was bold enough to ask you to deliver some lumber to my house and you did and life as we knew it was over from that night on.
I dreamt of the life we would have, leading up to our wedding day. It was perfect. If I would have saved all of the roses that you had bought me I could have planted a rose garden. Their beauty enchanted me from seeing their thorns.
You were there beside me for the next seven years, making love, having babies, having fights, making up, changing jobs, moving to different houses, kissing (oh, how you always kissed me passionately). It didn’t matter if we were in a crowded room I drank deeply of your love.
We were mad for each other. No one could deny it.
Year after year I gave you more of my heart. Baby after baby we grow closer to together. We refused to stop loving each other. We expressed it in public, at the lake, in your old Ford truck. We were always together.
Time moved slow back then and I can only remember now in black and white.
I loved you more than I had ever loved any man. You were the man that I had dreamt about. You were my hero, my lover, my friend and the father of my children.
You were the one for me.
I haven’t thought about you for years but the other day I heard our wedding song while I was at the market place. It took me back to the way you looked at me on that crimson day in September, highlighted in fall colors.
“Oh how I love you, let me give my life to you. Let me drown in your laughter; let me die in your arms. Let me lay here beside you and always be with you. Come let me love you. Come love me again,” untraditionally I walked down the aisle towards your expecting eyes, hearing these words played by local musicians.
Standing there in the market place I was on the verge of being angry until the bewilderment of it all, took over.
Why now? Why? When I think I am healed and over you why are these memories surfacing now?
I stood there starring at the potato chips for the duration of the song. As a store clerk walked past I realized the assault that had just taken place on my heart and left abruptly.
I reluctantly go back to that place of white picket fences, red, yellow and orange sunflowers, passionate kisses and watching the rain on our front porch swing together. Sometimes a smell or a song will trigger me though. I avoid it like the plague knowing that its treason against my own heart.
I will never travel that way again.
Back then, for a split second, life was as good as it was going to get.
If only I could have seen it coming. If only I would have listened to my heart and not given it all to you. If only I didn’t love you with everything in me. If only I would have held something back maybe it wouldn’t have hurt so badly. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so wrecked.
But I didn’t. I loved you with my whole heart.
If only she hadn’t been so beautiful….
But that seems like a whole lifetime ago. Today I look at the stranger out of my kitchen window and it’s hard to believe that at one time we were so intimate. I can’t even imagine that he was once you. This man looks, acts, talks dresses nothing like you. A few weeks back I had walked right passed him at the gas station mistaking him for a transient.
If only you had a grave that I could have grieved you at. But you don’t. Somewhere out there your body still wonders the night.
The man that my heart loved has been gone for years but here stands a remnant of the man that I once knew. The world of shadows summoned you away from the children and me almost a decade ago and you have never been released.
Others chastise me for loving you but how could they have known the deep crevices of my heart? When I am kind to the stranger outside my window they speak of me loving him again. What they don’t understand is that I don’t even know that man.
I had a dream about you last night. In my dream, you were still my husband (my beloved) and I remembered you as though you were still next to me. My arm reached for you but then I awoke. It’s been so long. My heart grieved as though I still knew you. I thought about where we would be in this life, today . I thought about the plans we had made to raise our children, build our family and be wild and free together. I remember the places we wanted to take our children and the things we wanted to do.
You would have had grey hair in your freshly trimmed beard by now.
If you could only see your children, they are almost grown. Our baby boy will soon be graduating from the eighth grade and our oldest is in college. Our two middle daughters are so beautiful and are nearly ready to be walked down the aisle themselves. I wish you would have been here to help me raise them, guide them and lead them with that Godly wisdom that you once had. You would be so proud of your son. He is so big and grown-up. He’s almost as tall as I am. His feet are bigger than mine. It’s been so hard raising him without you. You’re a grandfather now. You would have made the very best Papa.
As I spoke to this man today I thought that I had gotten a glimpse of you and could feel the thorn piercing my heart again for the hundred thousandth time. I spoke to this shell of a man as if he had once known my Love but I’m not sure if he remembers you at all. I was hoping that somewhere deep down this man could somehow pass on the message through time, space, years to the One my heart loved.
I realized today that I have been thinking of you lately because it’s time to fully let you go.
It’s time to finally release you, to build that bed of branches, float you down a river and shoot that fiery arrow towards you, igniting you. It’s time for the past to burn and the ashes to be blown away with the winds of today.
It’s time for me to move on so I let you go today. I finally released the balloon with your name on it. Your body roams this world but you are gone. The One my heart loved left me a long time ago.
I miss you so bad. I miss the man that I married but I let go of you today. I say my final goodbyes and hopes that somehow you hear me. It’s so weird seeing this man standing before me yet knowing that you have been gone for almost a decade. I grieve you one last time today and free my heart from holding on.
I wish all the best for the man out my kitchen window. I hope someday that he will find you again.
My heart has loved no other but you.
It was always you for me.
Peace be with you James where ever you may be.
All my love,
(Angela B. Bowland)
Author of More Than a Mud Flap