This Life I See

Visualize a night of early spring
Clouds hide the moon, but our path is illuminated
By softly glowing lights
Little orbs of the city
Guiding us home.
We look at each other with surprised eyes,
Dilated pupils reflecting exaggerated surprise
As we feel the first gentle drops
Grace our noses with their chill.
No need to worry, we say,
It's just a tiny bit of rain
And the sky chuckles as it opens.

Running in earnest now,
Our entwined hands propel us forward.
Quickly forming puddles
Somehow find the insides of our shoes
Our pealing laughter echoes
Into the rebirth of nature's sleeping waking.
You fumble with the key and its lock,
And there's no awning to shield our dripping heads
And I can't make words because I'm so happy and so cold
And so completely content
And we finally stumble in,
Greeted by the rich, golden orange glow
Of a waiting home.

You start a fire to chase the chill away
And we drag two armchairs together
Side by side, our feet up and shoes off,
Your hand finds mine and takes it so gently.
I turn and softly smile
To find firelight reflected in your eyes,
And your hand lets mine go to reach into a hidden pocket
A small velvet box
One knee on the ground
Words of such endearing sincerity
My overwhelmed yes
Choked out through the happiest tears I've ever cried
And two people so in love
Holding each other in circles by an April fire.

Fall forward a little;
It is now autumn's peak
As the timeless music plays.
There's just enough magical light left
To illuminate the amplified glow
Of watercolor leaves,
Deep and bright and beautiful,
Like the shaking soul who walks toward you.
The people stand in reverence on either side,
And her father clutches her like a lifeline
His bittersweet tears fall to the roses below
My little girl, my little girl.
And finally breaking away,
He lets her go.
Little candles illuminate the pavilion steps
As that indescribable twilight blue
Edges in on our horizons
Those softly glowing lights
Have found their way here, too.

The last note of the melody of ages
Fades away into the world
Welcomed by the restless rustle of the trees
And her beloved youth pastor
Has tears in his eyes even before he begins.
We are gathered here on this night...
She doesn't mean to,
But his words lose to the depth of your eyes
They find mine and pass through to my soul
No one else can look at me the way you do
And my hands tremble in the steadiness of yours,
Mr. always-so-sure,
And in that moment,
I know you love me how love truly is
"I do."
And how can I not
Love you too?
Our kiss melts away every wall I've ever built
It softens the edges of your unshakable un-emotion
And I see tears fall from you
For me
For the first time.

Picture it with me,
Open your mind so you can truly see:

A wry side-smile
Cake intentionally missing my mouth
Us hugging and slowly spinning
Because we can't dance
Singing Beatles love songs in each other's ears
Two hands glued together
Our jaws blessedly aching with smiles.
Bubbles follow us into the car
That takes us to the airport.
We've taken off,
And now I know what it is to fly.

Strong arms carry me over the threshold
Of a cozy cabin in foreign mountains
Of evergreen and snow.
We spend a week exploring the world
And discovering each other
And what it is to love one another in every way.
We arrive home to our new little house
To discover that the world doesn't stop
For just two people
There's work and there's surviving
And we slowly learn that,
Even though we know we have each other,
Life throws its little blows.

The first argument is over something small,
And I feel so despicable
As stress and tiredness etches a tiny hole
Into my word-trapping wall.
My shaking hand claps over my mouth
And I dissolve into shameful tears
You hold me warm and close
And rock my guilt away
"I'm here to stay,
I'm here to stay."
And I'm sorry,
I'm so sorry;
You raise my crying face to meet yours
"It's okay."

More life ticks too quickly by:
We now sit close together
On a worn wicker bench
Under summer blue sky
Your parents and my parents
And all their elated surprise;
Our hands rest on my belly
And everyone joyously cries.
Magazine clippings and
My silly, artsy ideas
And your endless patience;
We're kneeling on the newly laid carpet
Assembling the crib for the little room
You insist on reading the instructions
As I retort with a "we'll be fine without them"
We realize the irony and laugh,
And the smiles linger as we turn away to finish.

Then there are midnight's urgent nudges
Of all the false alarms;
It's almost like the boy cries wolf
When the real thing comes.
You break your conservative driving habit
And I cling to the handle above the window,
Not completely jokingly,
For all three of our dear lives.
Whooshing emergency room doors
Doctors in sterilized blue
All the voices blur into one except for yours,
And that's what carries me through
The pain that comes.
The pain that comes is
So indescribably worth it
When the warm bundle cries his way into our hearts
And we cry with him, too.

Pastel birthday parties grow into more vivid colors,
We're perplexed by the delicate situation
Of explaining a little sister.
Sticky messes on handles and knobs
The kitten missed the box again
First days of school with clinging hugs
Precede first days of school with our unfamiliar invisibility.
Plays, concerts, games, and meetings
Late one night, we realize all the years that have gone
How have they already slipped by?
And where have you been,
Where have we been?
I miss you
"And I miss you."
We resolve to fix it,
Sitting side by side with our silly cats
Who are hilariously contorted and
Still somehow asleep in between us.

We blink and our eldest is graduating
We blink and our youngest is married
We blink and too many funerals have passed us by
We blink and our parents are gone
We blink and we can't get the years back
But with every blink our love changes a little bit;
It grows and shifts in the new light of each day.

We have a weekly ritual
Of opening the windows and letting the early morning breeze
And the glow of the rising sun
Caress the eyelashes that guard our closed eyes
And invigorate our steady lungs.
I know we're old because
I have embroidered curtains like my grandmother
And you wear your pants at your waist
And I have shoulder-length silver hair
And we have glasses on chains.
I finish crocheting a scarf
And you complete your crossword
And then our hands inch near each other and hold
We'll always hold on.

But the dreaded day must come.
My clumsiness unfortunately never fades and
I take my first fall
Curse those blasted stairs
I'm okay you big lug; I can do this myself
I stubbornly bat your hand away
And by weakened bones give out
You catch me when I once more fall.
Steady beeps
A slowly dripping IV
We're so scared,
Enclosed birds with fluttering hearts wanting to fly away
And at last I'm released
From the sterile, white cage
And you follow.

I pretend not to feel the waves of your broken heart
As warm tears slowly fall from
Eyes clenched shut,
Trying to keep out the pain of the truth
That we don't have forever to be with each other.
Looming on the edges of the least discernible horizons,
We can both still see the end that no one ever wants.
It draws in too quickly; it's much too near,
And we hold each other all the time now because
We don't know when that last time will come.

I flip the coin in my mind:
Heads or tails of who is better (or worse?) to go first
And I know the reality is me because
I can feel the disease
I hate it more than I've hated anything else.
Why can't it realize that I'm learning how to live
A little more with every dawn?
But every dusk the pain comes and
I know I don't have long
I'm going to go first.
But how will you cope
How will you cope
How does any person in love cope?

The news that shatters a world comes right before noon.
It's on one of my good days that
We were out of oil and eggs,
And we both sure wanted that cake.
As aged hands reached for the handle of the door,
Sudden, inexplicable pain in a heart
Rendered perfect movement impossible forevermore.
I quaked under the weight of sorrow
The weight of the need to say my goodbye
And I ran for the first time in a long time
From the hospital hallway into your new room;
For just a couple of days, that's where we'd both stay.

The time unfailingly came
Our grandchildren, our children, and you and me
I couldn't believe, I wouldn't believe;
You weren't allowed to leave.
You loved it when I told you stories,
So tales I indeed wove
I regaled little gems and treasures
And the corners of your mouth lifted a little
At the sound of my aged, cracking voice
Those two little corners that brought everyone so much joy
Finally fell as the saddest tear
Dropped from my eye,
As the most painful and happiest breath
In finality you took.
I'd go a couple of weeks later,
Knowing that being sad was so foolish.
I'd lived only the most beautiful life
And I'd be joining you for eternity
What did I have to fear?
My funeral would be like yours
People giving thanks for the joy you'd brought them,
And just sad because the world had lost a little light
I died frozen in a smile that only the earth would fade away,
And my soul was carried up to join yours
With you and our Creator it rushed to stay.

This future is vivid in my mind
So much clearer than this
Desaturated world of reality.
A life of growing old and growing together
Through the trials and triumphs
That make two humans in love
Completely whole,
Entirely one.
And I live it every night,
Knowing full well that this love that
Supersedes my mere
almost eighteen
Somehow isn't enough to reach through to you.

But how can I give up?
How can I stop believing in us
How can I let all this go
When I know it's the only thing
And you're the only one
I always want to know.
And I realize I'm so young but
I'm really far too old;
It's bittersweet having no control over
Such emotion that makes me whole
Such emotion that I
can't hold.
And a little fraction of every second spent with you
Is a tiny, desperate plea
That you can one day share this dream
Of growing into one
with me.

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