I dream he is holding me in his arms again. We’re snuggled up in bed together, his arm around me, fingers laced in mine. I can feel the warmth of him against my back, his long legs twined in mine, his foot between my ankles. I lean back into him, feeling the warmth and security that he always brings to me. I feel his kiss on my neck. This is my happiest place.
He loved me like no one has ever loved me: with truly unconditional love and acceptance. I couldn’t believe it at first. Why would anyone love me like that? But as time went on it seemed that he actually did. The little things he did every day – gently drying my shoulders and hair with a towel when I got out of the shower. Holding my hand, no matter where we were. Warming my sunglasses in the truck before I put them on, so I didn’t have “anything cold touching that beautiful face”. And always, always, always listening to me. Not a passive sort of ‘uh huh’ but looking right into my eyes, asking relevant questions, touching my hand or nodding his head or furrowing his brow to show that he was hearing what I said to him.
He heard me.
He heard me.
No other man had ever listened to me. Not my father or brothers. Not my other husbands. Not my boyfriends or lovers or anyone.
He remembered things that were important to me. While driving across the southwestern states, we took a detour to a surprise destination. I had no idea where we were headed other than we were off into the country outside of Amarillo, Texas. Suddenly I could see the cars sticking out of the ground and I looked at him with my eyes huge,
“I have ALWAYS wanted to see Cadillac Ranch!” I said, “How did you know?”
I couldn’t believe it! I looked into his beautiful blue eyes, and a huge grin spread across his face
“You told me. We were talking one night years ago and I remembered that you wanted to see this. I had to bring you here”.
I started to cry. I could not believe how much he loved me, how much he listened to me, how real a person I was to him. After so many years of being ignored, marginalized, unheard, this man not only saw me but heard me, respected me, and wanted to make me happy. It was like emerging from a dark cave and standing in the sunlight, feeling the warmth seep into bones that had been chilled for years. I mattered to him.
We walked hand in hand out to the field to see this art installation. We took pictures and walked from one car to the next, talked about what the artist might be trying to say and loving that the public was encouraged to spray-paint the cars. Each vehicle had been coated and recoated in so many years of spray-paint, that the cars had a coating of what looked like foam. Weird paint stalactites hung from the fenders and frames of each car, the admirers turning the things they adored into something beautiful and grotesque.
Finally, when we got to the end of the row, I picked up a spray can and painted S & W on the last car. I stood back to admire my handiwork, and he gently took the spray can from my hand and put a giant heart around the initials. I comfort myself knowing that no matter how much paint has gone onto that car afterwards, our love is immortalized there, living in the layers just like his love lives in every layer of me.
I awake and I am lying on my right side, my fingers laced together, my ankles crossed. I close my eyes again trying to bring him back to my bed but with no success. He has made sure, though, that his love is still here long after his body has gone.
I miss you my Bear.