All she has is denial. All she can do is look through all her memories with him.. her only love... and try to move on.
It's been a year to the day. The sun's rays spill through the canopy of leaves overhead to create emerald shards of luminance across the forest floor. My back is placed against the rough skin of an ancient maple who serves as my sole companion. I hinder a single beam of light with my hand, allowing it to cast shadowy patterns through my fingers. It is untouched here. No path is carved out of the blades of grass which reach greedily for what sunlight the canopy permits them to have. Closer to the trees, most plants are robbed of nutrients. All, save for the darkening trilliums, their three silky petals stretching out arrogantly. I often remember gently passing them through my fingers, savouring their softness, careful to leave them unharmed. A monarch resides on a bell-like flower in the distance, its wings spread out to catch a small portion of sun, seeming to set it ablaze. Behind me, I hear the whisper of the river, mildly weaving its way, providing life, tranquility and peace. Its voice speaks to the hushed tones of the leaves above, which move lethargically under the will of the breeze. Mother used to say those were truly the voices of the angels who preserve this place in a single state of time. The thick roots of my aged friend have broken the surface of the earth, and are extended about me, offering assurance and comfort. Yet, as I sit here among the tangled fingers of the maple, my thoughts drift dangerouly close to my still healing wound.
It's been a year to the day. I can't help it. Being here, in this place, my memories start to resurface. I still remember the first time I introduced him to this, my secret hideaway. It was just as it is now, the sweltering summer heat obstructed by the shield of green above. He took my hand in his and thanked me for sharing it with him; not just the place, but the moment itself. The joy of seeing his smile is still fresh in my mind. The warmth of his touch as his fingers trailed up the length of my arm and back down, tenderly massaging the palm of my hand. There were few words spoken. I simply laid in the grass with him, his arms wrapped around my shoulders, holding me close to him. Leaning my head against his chest, I closed my eyes and breathed in the scent of him, savouring the softness of his skin as I had with the trilliums. It's the one thing the angels could not preserve. That moment when I could feel his gentle fingers comb through my hair, and graze my arm. Hear his steady breath and the rythum of his heart.
It's been a year to the day. Suddenly, the forest is dim. The light no longer dances. The warmth of the sun is replaced by dark, menacing shadows, which creep closer towards me. The hushed tones of the leaves become more violent, and the ancestral arms which hold them up begin to groan with the effort of fending off the strengthening winds. No matter how hard I try, this place will no longer take on the responsibility of comforting me. My elderly comrade wilts in wearisome defeat, and I am now left alone without its support.
It's been a year to the day. The day I both cherish and despise. He entwined his fingers with mine, and bid me to follow. It was like a fairy tale. The moon, in all her glory, sent cascading silver light over the rippling waters of a small lake which mirrored every star in the night sky. He stopped at the edge of the shore, underneath a massive weeping willow whose tendrils became a curtain isolating us from the rest of the world. He turned to me hesitantly, every facial feature filled with raw emotion. He lifted his hand and brushed my cheek lightly with his fingertips, a whisper of his skin on mine. His voice barely audible, he spoke to me those three words. Overwhelmed, I embraced him and replied in a string of inadvertently poetic words that I felt the same way. When I retracted to gaze upon his face, my breath caught. His eyes were glistening and mirrored like the lake's surface. They were not tears of happiness, but of sorrow and regret. He pulled me desperately back into the embrace, holding my head to his shoulder and whispering with a tortured voice into my ear.
It's been a year to the day. The day he told me of the menace that was slowly killing him. The poison of disease that he would not survive. The hardest thing I have ever had to do was accept that our love had a time limit. Every morning I awoke with the sun, knowing that it was one less day I had with him. Denial was all I had from the start. We spent every day together, but as time went on I noticed his failing health. His paling skin. The deepening hollows of his cheekbones. The continuously darkening circles under his weary eyes. Our sanction held strong to the forest. We went there, separated from the world and forgot it all. For months, I told myself he would be fine. That we would stay together.
It's been a year to the day. A chill runs up my spine, leaving me shivering. There's no point in staying in a place that will further sadden my soul. My body aches as I move to stand, as it does every time I come here. I stumble a couple times in my haste, tripping over the tangle of roots and snake-like plants, grasping at my ankles. My fingertips are scathed by the bark of every tree. The memories scream and beat against my mental barrier, threatening to break every part of my sanity. I had a year to prepare for it. I had a year with him. I had a year to come to terms with myself, and I wasted it in my denial. Now, the first tears of the sky fall, grieving for my pain when I cannot. The wilderness parts, and in front of me lies what everyone calls the "real" world. I hate it. It took him away from me. I glimpse back one last time. Once and only once. The towering branches mock the numbness of my wound.
It's been a month to the day. I should've been shattered. Sobs should've racked my body, and the floor stained by my tears. But it never happened. You could ask my in fifty years why I didn't, and I still wouldn't have an answer. My mother cried for me and held me in her arms, yet I could not. My sister, my friends. All of them cried and held me. I could not. I went to school, despite my parents' concerns. I completed my assignments, washed the dishes and went to sleep. I couldn't understand. After his funeral, I began to loathe myself. I loved him; I still love him, and yet I was not capable of expressing it. Life went on...
Almost as if he had never existed.
It's been a week to the day. That's when it started. The dull, yet excrutiating pain in my chest. The wind is icy, but all the fresh air in the world could not ease my breath. My footsteps carry me aimlessly about, without any real purpose or goal. I pass by everything, yet notice nothing. Before I know what is happening, I am led by some unseeable force into a fenced garden of death, where row upon row of marked stone acts as the last remembrance of so many.
There it is. My last solid proof that he truly existed, and all it is, is a name hacked into cold stone. The rain is falling heavily. I can no longer see the edges of this prison. It's hidden in a constant, unchanging grey. It's just him and me. I close my eyes, and for one irrational moment, it feels as though he's standing in front of me. When I open them again, the feeling is gone. There's only stone. Under his name, there is a date which I ignore, as well as a single detatched and incomplete phrase.
It's a sad representation to the man he was. Those two words leave so much unsaid. His kindness, unbelievable generosity and grace, and his unbreakable courage... is his gravestone to be just another worn away and forgotten piece of rubble?
Everything hits me and I tremble. He's dead. He's actually dead. His cold lifeless body lies feet below, buried in this earth. I'll never hear his breath, feel his gentle touch, or see the beautiful spirit that resides in his eyes. I no longer have the strength to stand. My knees jerk to the ground, but the pain is nothing next to what I have just realized. Mixed with the rain is the salt of my first fallen tears. His name is all that can be heard admist my sobs. The barrier is gone, and I am helpless against the relentless attacks upon my soul. I clutch my stomach in a fierce embrace, desperately attempting to reinact the way he would hold me if he saw me this way. The only thing missing is him.
It's been a year to the day. I continuously told myself that the hardest thing I ever had to do was accept that our love had a time limit.
I was wrong.
The hardest part is accepting that I will never hear his voice or feel his warmth. He's dead. And now I'm alone to pretend that none of it.. the devotion, beauty and love... ever existed.