Yellow roses in a Lenox vase that once belonged to my parents grace my kitchen table. Thirty-seven Octobers ago, John brought me a dozen yellow roses when our son, Alex, was born. He entered my hospital room wearing turquoise-tinted aviator sunglasses. The world was ours.
It was twenty-six years ago today, Columbus Day, that John died after his grueling and his inspiring battle with colon cancer. His bravery born out of soldiering at West Point serves as my template for honor and resilience. John gave all he had to give to me and the boys until he drew his last breath.
In his honor, I watched Casablanca, John’s favorite movie, last night. "As Time Goes By" was our wedding song. We danced as if there were no tomorrows. We danced with the abandon and the greed of true love, throwing all cares to the wind. “Here’s looking at you, kid,” as John used to say to me.
I write this in my office with its view of a maple tree slowly turning crimson. It evokes memories of years past. Its trunk dappled with gray and green age spots, the tree is no longer the scrawny sapling when John and I bought this house, thirty-two years ago. I have lived without him now for twenty-six Octobers. As I wrote in my memoir, despite it all, I would journey with him again in a heartbeat.
I love movies. Last week I watched Phantom of the Opera. A story of passionate love set in the Paris opera of the 19th century, its passion and grief expressed in moving melodies and lyrics remind us of what we all want and need—love and a creative life to hold close like a prayer. I took my sons, Alex and Daniel, when they were little boys to the Philadelphia Academy of Music to see Phantom. I still remember the glass chandelier swinging across the stage to the delighted screams of the audience, and while the boys grumbled at the time that they didn't want to go to the theater, they tell me their memory of that night remains with them to this day.
My favorite scene in the movie is when Christine falls against the Phantom. As his fingers linger over her throat and breast, she swoons with eyes closed, red rose tucked behind her ear. Together they sing “The Point of No Return.”
The games we've played are at an end.
Till now are at
Past all thought
Of "if" or "when" -
No use resisting:
And let the dream
Writing is a passionate lover. It demands. It exacts beyond the point of no return. Those of us who write, know this. We know there's no resisting it, that it's as necessary as breathing. It allows me to remember my childhood bedroom with its pale green walls and windchimes tied to window latches. It holds in its grasp intricate memories of the man who walked into my hospital room with the turquoise sunglasses and an armful of yellow roses, who I always knew would make a wonderful father, and who was. Writing's calming presence caresses me with reflection and dreams of new possibilities, a new journey … of John who still walks beside me, now as I write this.
|Alex and me and John |
Say you'll share with
Love, one lifetime...
Lead me, save me
From my solitude...
Say you want me
Here beside you...
Anywhere you go
Let me go too -