I went to go visit that woman who had the cabin without running water and internet again. Her hair was the same, peppered as if to say that wisdom has grown on her heart from a life of heartache. As she took me into a hug, I was surprised by her remembering of me. And as she held me tight, I could feel that she had experienced profound joy throughout life too.
Starting a kettle on the stove she asked me how I was.
"I'm really good," I replied. We didn't have to make eye contact to know it was a lie. But it was an easy lie. One of those, if I get into the truth I might not ever stop crying, and I am just so exhausted. So please just take my answer for what it is worth and know I am okay.
"Ah, really good I see," she gently smiled. Taking a seat across from me she cut to the chase, "so how is writing, or is it law school that you are pursuing now?"
Writing was the guy.
Law school was my way of discrediting what we had.
"I went back to teaching."
Teaching was a safe place to be. Teaching was me before him and me with him. And I hoped if it could be those two things then perhaps it could also be me after him. If it couldn't, at least it was a distraction that kept me busy enough to know recognize it.
"And how is that going?"
Her questions weren't abrasive, but as I started at her hands, that housed a few wrinkles it made me want to be honest. You can't soft and kind in this world without going through the war. Her hands told the stories of the battles she had been through, that is why they were so aged. Her hand gently moved forward, welcoming me to take hold of it, like she would walk me through it.
Tears began to well up, holding place at the bottom of my eyes like so many times before, "it just wasn't what I planned."
The silence began to filter all of the "what ifs."
What if I said yes when he asked if we should get married when we sat on the edge of my bed. Did he stop trusting that I loved him because I said no?
What if I never called him.
What if he never called back.
What if I never took the wrong turn that morning and caught him in bed with someone else
What if I finally moved out of the Carriage House ... because night after night I stay sleeping on my side of the bed, and our family still hasn't come home.
The what ifs were interrupted by the whistle of the kettle blowing. As her back was turned to me, while she was fixing our cups of tea, I let tears in my eyes to finally release.
She walks over with two cups of tea filled to the brim. Her hands are gentle as she sets them on the table. "You can say it," she said, "pretending you are a bottomless vessel and can hold everything inside is a waste of souls pace darling."
"It was hard with him, but it all seems harder without him. The house is too big for one person. It is quiet and the shadows seem much bigger at night now. I don't know the last time I cooked a meal for myself."
"What if the house feels so big, because you are meant to grow into it? Just you. Alone. You grow."
I shook my head, "I don't like that." My voice must have cracked because she didn't push further.
"It feels like a painful ending, I get that -" her voice became a bit quieter, "-oh do I get that. But that doesn't mean it is over. You get to choose which moments you would like to relive over and over again. Allow those memories to warm your heart when you feel alone at night. Let your heart break just a bit more too, when you're grieving your ghostship life."
She placed her hand on top of mine, and I looked down so she couldn't the tears falling, once again. It was the first time I noticed, in my two visits with her, that she wore a simple gold band around her finger. Yet she had never mentioned a sir, nor had I seen one at the cabin -- and she too had her own ghostship life.