I brought out a bottle of wine last night. Nothing special, just a bottle of a reasonably priced Australian Cabernet Sauvignon. Okay, a cheap bottle of Cab, but nevertheless, a good wine. I lit the candles, and we talked.
Suzanne and I sat there at the butcher block table, with Brandy and Bailey nearby, and I asked her why she wasn’t married. I said, “Look at you, you’re beautiful, incredibly smart, have a great body, a good sense of humor, seem to never grow old, and you waltz around the world working when, and with whom you choose, so what’s the deal?”
The shadows of the flickering candlelight danced across her face, she looked down at the long, thin, dark cigar in her hand, and then brushed her hair from around her eyes as she raised her head to look at me, and said softly, “Bobby, I was married, but it was a long time ago, and it seems so far away now. Ours was a wonderful relationship while it lasted, and one day it was over. I’ve never been sure what happened to it, but one day, the magic that had been there for so long seemed to have melted away, and we went our separate ways. We never talked about it, but I still came away from it with some things I’ll never forget.”
I asked her what it was she took away from it.
She paused, and had this faraway look in her eyes, then said, “I took away from it the gifts of soft, summer nights with campfires on the beach, days of picnics on the green, nights of wine and bread and talking to the wee hours. I took from it the gift of feelings that come with family gatherings. I took from it the gift of all of the laughter and tears there were. I took from it the gift of all of the shared dreams and hopes we had. I took from it the gift of long nights of love that we thought could never end.”
I sat, quietly taking in the words that reminded me of the night she opened up to me about her and the student, and her vulnerability touched me like it had then. “Okay,” I said, “so I understand that much, but surely, you must have had other relationships that meant something to you besides that one.”
“Of course there were, Bobby, but none that ended up being anything enduring. My cousin Icarus and I might have had a thing, but unfortunately he was a little to careless, as I’ve told you.” I said, “Your cousin? Are you sure you’re not from Arkansas?”
She looked at me and said, “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
I said, “Just a lame joke, so sorry I interrupted you, go on.”
She went on, “That doesn’t mean I’ve given up, only that I will know it when it comes around again, and I know it will. I’ve learned some things since then too, and one is that is you can’t force it, another is that when you’re in love you don’t think much about what life is really all about. And what of you, you’ve been married before, what does it all mean to you?”
Now it was my turn to pause, and since I had no long, thin, dark cigar to look at, I just took a sip of wine and said, “You know I was married twice, the first time I walked away from it, and the second time it was taken from me. Both of those relationships were special, and I, like you, took away something from both I’ll never forget. As hard as the loss was, I also learned something valuable from both of them.”
Suzanne looked at me, smiled, and said, “I know that Robert, and besides the memories you took away from each, you learned, as I did, the fundamental lesson about all relationships, and that is that they all end. They either end by some type of dissolution; the parties grow apart, they aren’t getting what they need from the relationship, or the death of the one of the persons involved ends it. But you still take something far more important away from it than that, and that is, what you had once no one can ever take from you.”
“You know, sweetheart, you’re absolutely right. A friend of mine from a long time ago sent me an email yesterday, in which he was addressing the same subject. He wrote about relationships he had over time, saying that with each one, he had gained something and left something, but gained more than he left. I think that’s true with all of us. He was also concerned that the relationship I have with you would leave me with less once you were gone. I assured him that we had an agreement, and that you wouldn’t leave until we both thought your work here was done, and in any event my life is richer for you being here.”
“Oh, Bobby,” she said, “you can tell your friend not to worry, I’m not going anywhere soon. I’m having too much fun working with you, and besides, your taste in wine is really quite good even if it is cheap.
I’ve already told him.
Take care, be well and keep in touch.
“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.”