With just four weeks remaining in my tour of duty in Orlando, Florida before returning to New Hampshire, things have entered a stage where all that must be resolved and put into perspective has entered the fast lane. In a way I am reminded of the cycle of things. Yesterday was The Muse's birthday and I could not be with her because I have not yet completed my mission here. Today I went to the cemetery to visit someone who remains very dear to me, someone who inspired me to find my way again at a time when I was lost. Christina died just over two years ago and I had never gone to her grave. At her funeral it was something I could not bear to do.
Christina helped me to realize that we cannot throw people away because they don't fit the mold we hoped they would fit. How many times do we become involved with another person romantically, find we do not work as a "couple" and then go our separate ways? At first we did, knowing we did not have the resources to meet each other's needs and knowing we weren't each other's "first choice" for a partner. Yet, I loved Christina very much and I believe she loved me, so why would we excommunicate each other because we weren't cut out to be some kind of husband and wife deal?
We went almost a year without seeing each other before we ran into each other in the same place we had met. We talked, we laughed, and we remembered how much we enjoyed each other's company and friendship. We forgave each other for the things we said and never meant when we parted and we vowed to always be there for each other. Although I know it was not what she would have wanted, a part of me wished I could have been there while she fought and lost her battle with cancer. She would never have wanted to see her like that. She wanted me to remember her as beautiful. She did not understand that I would have seen the same beauty in her no matter what, but we're cool. We talk more often these days than we did when she was alive.
I decided to trust her voice because I wasn't sure what cemetery she had been buried in. She directed me to the right one. She even directed me to her body's final resting place ("I'm finally catching up on my sleep," she told me when I started to choke up. She never used to sleep). Of course, as it was when we first met, I kept walking past her without realizing she was there. When I kept walking past her (she is in an above-ground plot due to her irrational fear of maggots), it was like old times. "Hello, dipshit, why don't you walk past a few more times without noticing me?"
She seems to be well known at the cemetery. The woman working in the office knew where she was off the top of her head, but Christina has many visitors. The collection of things gathered in front of the stone with her name and photograph on it consists of many of her favorite things, from a can of Dr. Pepper to angel figurines and flowers. I almost felt guilty about being empty handed and she laughed at me and told me, "See, nothing ever changes."
I went to your grave to tell you I was leaving Orlando, even though you already knew, but mostly I went because I promised I would one day when I was ready. I'm not sure I was ready, but the clock is ticking. You'll always live on in my heart and in the hearts of other people, Christina, because you had something few people had. For all your struggles, you believed, and you helped me to believe again and to find the path again. I trusted you to guide me to the right place today without doing any research and you did. This is what I needed to do. Thank you for bringing the light back into my life, helping me rediscover my faith and reminding me that we all matter to the people we meet and love on this road called life.
Rest in peace, my love. I'm going home. You told me not to give up on the great love of my life, and you were right about that as well. I'll always love you, Christina. Now, go back to sleep.
August 19, 1977 - December 30, 2002
The world was better for knowing you.
And thank you, Alice, for coming along and being there for me.