I'd always thought I possessed all the time in the world and the idea never occurred to me things might change. The thing is; I was so positive I would always be with Carol; I really thought we would be together forever. I was so positive time would wait for us; that it would wait for me to get all of my business' in order, and then we would have time for the rest of our lives. Had I known the big "C" was waiting around the corner, and was going to ravage that lovely body and then steal my Carol away from me so early; I swear I would have done so many things differently.
If asked today if I would give up the corporations, the money, and all of my success just to have her back, I'd gladly do so. I would consent to be a pauper if I could just have her back and she could be a part of my life once more. However, I have learned one cannot dwell on the "what if's" or the "I should have of's" ... I know you have to move on with life and yet ... more than two years later ... I find I miss her more than ever. I would say don't dwell on the past; but if the truth be know, at night, when my dragons escape in my mind and then are allowed to roam free; my guilt and sorrow is still all consuming.
After she died, Saturdays just seemed to become my day to spend with Carol. Allow me to explain; part of her gravesite consists of a large, chocolate colored granite bench, big enough for 3 or even 4 people to sit on. This bench stands just in front of her marker, and when you sit on the bench; you can look right down on her. Anyway, every Saturday for the past 2 years I've gone and sat on that bench and talked to her. Every Saturday I'd sit there sharing with her the week's happenings, just talking to her grave marker. I'm sure many people thought me very strange, and as strange as it sounds, I've always felt somehow she was listening and understood. However; the entire previous week I was attending meetings out of town and for the first time since her death, I wasn't able to make my normal Saturday meeting. Instead, I was to visit her the next day.
My corporate plane arrived very late Saturday night and today, Sunday, was going to have to be my day to visit. I asked my driver Walter to stop at the flower shop and I picked up something to take to her marker, something I never do. When we arrived at the cemetery, I asked Walter to park the car in the normal space I usually use and I got out of the car and headed towards Carol's grave. Her resting place is just over the crest of a small knoll and has a nice view of the cemetery. As I came up over the rise and stared ahead, I saw somebody was sitting on the granite bench ... on OUR granite bench ... someone was desecrating my darling's final resting place and I felt anger welling up inside of me. As I started to walk towards the bench, I was totally prepared to tell this person to get off what I considered to be "our bench".
I stormed around in front of the bench and came to a fast stop staring down into two interestingly deep blue/grey eyes looking up at me, set in a lovely face. The eyes were slightly misty from crying and she looked up at me with a startled look on her face. My anger seemed to quickly seep away as I gazed down at the charming young woman sitting on the bench. The surprised look stayed on her face and with a shaky voice she asked, "Oh ... how come you're here today?"
I was completely taken aback by her question and I queried, "I don't understand; how do you know today isn't my normal day to come and visit?"
Her face turned red with embarrassment and she stood quickly, "I'll leave."
Responding promptly, I begged her, "No! Please sit down. Please don't leave. Tell me, why'd you make the comment about this not being 'my day'? How do you know that?"
As she sat back down, she moved to the end of the end of the bench and motioned for me to sit down on the other end. She was silent for a moment as she gathered her skirt and long coat against her body. It was as if she was collecting her thoughts as well as her clothing. Finally, she began, "My Mark died a few days before your wife. I was here the day you buried her and I saw you. I come here often ... to ah ... visit Mark, and I noticed you were only here on Saturdays. So, any day I come other than Saturday, I sit on this bench. Mark is buried just behind us."
I turned and saw the marker with Mark's name on it, along with the date of his birth and death. When I looked back into her face, I was surprised with my feelings. For the past two years, I'd not really noticed another woman. I would speak to them every day at work, but today was the first time I was actually sitting one on one with a woman since Carol passed away, discussing something besides business. In the past, I wasn't even interested in looking at another woman, but for some reason, this woman sitting in front of me had caught my attention.
What I also found strange was when I had turned back from Mark's marker; I thought I had seen something in her face as well. I had not been interested in meeting other women; that didn't mean I wasn't aware if a woman found me interesting. However, as I considered what I thought I had just noticed, it occurred to me it wasn't possible now, I was at least twice her age; why would she be interested in any man my age? Especially somebody as beautiful as this young lady was. I decided it was best for me to leave and I started to stand as I commented to her, "I will leave you to your privacy. I am sorry I disturbed you."
She reached out and touched my sleeve, causing me to stop. "Wait. Please don't leave. This is your bench and your place of solitude. I am the one who is intruding. I am the one who should leave." As she finished speaking, she started to rise.
"Would you consider the idea that we both sit here ... together?" I asked her softly.
She looked at me. I could see her deliberating what I had just asked and then she settled back down on her end of the bench.
"Good morning. I guess we never got that part of our conversation taken care of." I smiled at her comment and then asked her what happened to Mark and she told me about the car accident involving a drunk driver speeding the wrong way down the freeway at 2 in the morning. She went on to share her anger and her sense of loss, she shared so much of her past two years of pain and I allowed myself to open to her words, which helped me realize I had felt some of the same feelings she was describing to me. She asked me what had happened to Carol and after a few minutes, I realized there were tears running down my face, and how much I was sharing with her about my pain and anger. I told her how hard I had worked to create the business empire I ran, but now that she was gone, it didn't matter as much anymore. I told her how much I wished I had done things differently and how I wished I had spent more time with Carol. I didn't know if it was the outpouring of my grief for the very first time since her death, or the embarrassment of sharing so much so quickly with a stranger, but suddenly I had an overwhelming need to leave this woman I just met. I quickly stood and told her that I needed to depart
"Please wait..." she implored. "Don't go..."
"I'm sorry, I have to leave." And I strode off to my waiting car.
Sitting in the back seat during the drive home, and for most of the next week, I found I could not get the young lady's attractive face out of my mind. Her soft blue/green eyes, misted with her grief and her lovely face haunted me. Along with thoughts of her was also the guilt; I should not even be thinking of another woman after Carol. Why did my mind keep returning to her sweet face and those beautiful eyes? And then the other fact would occur to me; I was at least twice her age and what was I thinking ... how could I even contemplate anything with her in any way considering my age? I started to feel I was truly an old fool.
It wasn't until 3 days after I saw her sitting on the stone bench that I realized I didn't even know her name. And I found each time I thought about her, I ended up embarrassed about my feelings considering the difference in our ages. I realize we only spoke for a short time and neither of us really mentioned anything about a relationship, but it seemed to me there had been a spark ... or was it really just an old fool dreaming? I did know I kept thinking about her and wondering what she would be like ... and then the guilt would kick in, along with the feelings of what an old fool I was.
Saturday came and I prepared myself for my weekly visit to Carol's grave. On the way to the cemetery, I kept fighting the urge to ask my driver to go faster, but I held my tongue. After we parked, I sat for a moment in the back seat and pondered if she might even be there today. As I sat in the cocoon of my back seat, mulling it all over, unexpectedly I became shocked by the realization of my feelings; the feelings I really hoped she might be there today. I wondered what was going on in my head. Why those few moments with her last Sunday captured my imagination so quickly? Then I remembered what she told me; she didn't come on Saturdays because she knew I would be there; but I still possessed the hope she might be there today.
My driver Walter opened the door and I got out of the car and headed off across the damp, morning dew covered grass. As I came up over the rise, I saw somebody sitting on the bench. My heart leapt and I was truly bewildered by the happiness I felt inside. As I thought about it, I realized I was happier than I had been in the past 2 years. As I approached the bench, she stood and looked up. "Good morning," her voice was sweet and musical. "If you wish, I will leave."
.... There is more of this story ...