Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where Does Love Go?

Some loves just never end. Those true, great, loves that neither death, nor time, nor circumstance can put out. Where the pain neither fades nor subsides with the passage of time. Where time is only a way to get to the next phase – the one where you will be together again.

Sure your life changes and you adjust to the next event in your life and bittersweet is something you’d rather have in a chocolate than in a memory. Sure you learn to laugh and even to love again. But it’s never in the same way again. Never.

There are always those times when you turn a corner and think – oh! is that him? Or you’re in a crowd and you think you hear his voice. Your mind trips on a word and remembers a phrase. The phone rings and you think that when you pick it up he’s going to say – Oh hi Aims. It’s Cid.

Tonight I watched a movie called ‘P.S. I Love You'. A story about a woman who loses her husband to a brain tumour and how he writes her letters before he dies and he sends them to her for a year afterwards. At the end of the movie she says she can’t feel him anymore and I thought – how could you not? How can a great love just vanish from your life because a year has passed? How can you forget the feel of him or the taste of him or the sound of his voice?

It has been almost 8 years since Cid died and I remember everything about him. Even the smell of his clothes. Some days – most days – are like he just was here and has just died. I see him all the time in people. I hear his voice in my head whenever I need to and often just out of the blue. That man has his lips, that other one his eyes. Here’s his smile – and the trees echo his voice as he whispers my name.

The tears are forever too. My eyes give way to my memories and someone would think the funeral was just last week perhaps if they didn’t know me. And movies such as this one will bring it out again and I will go to bed weeping. Tomorrow I will wake and look in the mirror at the sadness that has become a permanent part of my face and I’ll go and stand and look at his picture for a while - remembering yesterdays like they are todays.

No. Great loves never die. They just wait.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

'The Man Tales' - Time to Go

Hearing those words from Cid’s uncle turned my heart into stone. Cid had asked me to ‘be there’ for his mother once he was gone. He was afraid she was going to be lonely and he hoped we could spend time together in the future.

But hearing those words and looking at their faces made me shrug and walk away. I packed my bags and left and never looked back and never went back to visit with his mother. All I had done for all of that time was look after a man I loved and try to do the things he had wanted. Relaying his wishes had gotten me this and I had had enough.

I drove up to Cid’s condo the following day and began the long job of packing up his life. For everyone who has ever done this after a loved one’s death – you know how hard this is. Every single item is held and you try to get a feeling of the person you loved through an inanimate object. You smell and you feel and you press it to your face – and you cry. And you cry. And you cry.

My discovery that his mother had helped herself to the best of what Cid had only helped to drive home my feelings of disgust with his family. I had thought that I would help clean the condo as I packed so it would help with selling it. When I found that they had taken the vacuum cleaner – well those thoughts of helping flew out of the window – and not on pleasant wings.

I worked steadily for three days with the knowledge that my brother and cousin were coming with D and a rented truck on the weekend. Cid’s life was going to be packed into it and moved 200kms where it would become part of my life – again. Despair and loneliness and just plain missing Cid, mixed with my anger as I sorted and packed his meager belongings. I laughed when I found the storeroom that held treasures his mother would have loved to get her hands on. It was obvious they hadn’t known about it. I am not mean-hearted, but I had been pushed too far. Even with my mental condition I knew it and I responded as I pitched stuff into the garbage bin.

I could have taken what I wanted and left his mother and uncle to clean up the mess, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it to Cid. And to me that is what mattered. I felt I had to do what was right. What other people did was their choice. Not mine.

I thought of these things as I climbed up onto the kitchen counter and reached for the articles Cid had placed on top of the cupboards. And I thought of nothing much as I lost my balance and fell backwards onto the kitchen floor, landing on my left shoulder. However – over the next five years of physiotherapy and pain I have replayed those thoughts many times. That fall damaged muscles and tissue in my shoulder. I will never be able to sleep on my left side again, so pain is always mixed with my lasting love of that wonderful man.

I was useless when it came time to load the truck. I couldn’t use my left arm at the time as I held it against my chest and passed things using my right hand. All that was left at the end was Cid’s old beaten up couch that we didn’t know what to do with.

As I was taking one last look around, a real estate agent let a young woman into the condo. The three of us stood looking at one another – shock and embarrassment plastered on all of our faces. The agent mumbled something about wanting to get the condo shown as quickly as possible. It only took me a second to realize that his mother and uncle had struck again, and struck early. I shrugged my shoulders and walked out without another look back. I climbed into my car and followed the truck out of the city. D sat beside me and held my hand while I cried.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bright Eyes

Alcide Anthony Marchesich
September 30, 1952 - February 23, 2001

Cid's favorite song (the one they didn't play at his funeral).

My Ode to Cid

Oh my Darling
You took my heart and flew away
over that coulee and into the sky.
We soar and swoop and laugh at the wind
Your eyes, your eyes - I fall into them.

And in my dreams I laugh with you
And I feel your fingers in my hair.
Your lips are soft and they taste so sweet
Your arms around me make me complete.

You tell me once more, don't be afraid
You are just a breath away.
You dance on a sunbeam and sing with the moon
Your love, it surrounds me, I'm in a cocoon.

The journey without you is long and it's hard
But someday, I know, the struggle will end.
We'll laugh, we'll sing, we'll be together again
Bright eyes, bright eyes - I'll fall into them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

'The Man Tales' - The Funeral

I woke in the strangeness of a room that was not my own and felt my loss hit me. I knew that after today Cid would be gone – forever. Somehow I had convinced myself that he was still here because he had not been buried, and the horror of that thought swept through my mind, and all I wanted to do was pull the blankets over my head and stay there. Opening the curtains, I could see the day was bright and hard and cold. I felt it was probably portentous and it made me want to run as far away as I could from the looming experience I was about to fall into.

In the kitchen, Cid’s mother and uncle were talking in Italian. A silence like a lid fell on the room when I entered and tried out a weak smile on them both. His mother turned to me and handed me a piece of paper and tried to make a small speech. Cid had stated that he wanted to give me $1000 for looking after him and to cover my expenses during that time. His mother now told me she had added more money to that to thank me for everything I had done for her son. I looked down at the paper and saw that I was holding a cheque for $3000. I stared at it blankly and thought – It’s not going to bring him back. Is it?

The funeral was set for 1pm and my stomach was clenched so hard it made me feel sick. I needed to get away from these people and the house that Cid had lived in, so I took the cheque and went looking for the bank it was written on. I didn’t know what else to do. When I returned with the cash in my pocket, his mother was beside herself and screamed at me that they thought I was going to miss the funeral. I stared at them, unable to comprehend why they would ever think that. Shaking my head I went and dressed.

The black limousine took three silent people to the Catholic Church where Cid’s body lay beneath the lid of the coffin. As we walked down the aisle, my eyes were focused on the coffin as it drew closer and closer. Sitting in the front row I stared at the gleaming wood and heard words that drifted past my ears like the murmuring of a brook. I stared at the flowers and listened to the music until a sudden recollection hit me and everything stopped.

“He wanted yellow,” I said.

His mother gasped and looked at me in astonishment. The priest hesitated briefly as my words reached him, but I barely noticed.

“He wanted yellow flowers. Cid told me – let there be yellow flowers Aims – and there’s not even one here!”

His mother shushing me made me suddenly realize that we were in the middle of the service and I hung my head and cried. Another memory surfaced and I realized that they weren’t playing the music he had wanted either. I had failed him. Even though they had made the arrangements for the funeral without me – I felt I had failed him.

Sitting once more in the black limo, I stared numbly as the pallbearers brought the casket out and slid it into the back of the hearse. My breath stuck in my throat and I could feel the ball of pain sitting there before it came out of me in huge croaking sobs. Turning my tear-streaked face away from his family, I watched the strangers who milled outside the church as we sat ensconced in the luxury of the limousine – each of us trapped in our misery. A small sigh escaped my lips when I recognized my family who had come to say good-bye to this wonderful man. They were like an island in my sea of agony. I knew I would be safe with them if only I could reach them.

We followed the hearse to the cemetery and I gave my arm to his mother as we walked behind the coffin. We stood beside the open mouth of the earth and I looked around. We had been here before to visit his father’s grave. Cid had stood next to me as he told me that he wanted to be buried on the hill overlooking the coulee. Instead, his mother had chosen a site opposite his father. It wasn’t on the hill where the sun shone and the coulee stretched away for miles. It was here, in this nondescript place. Not what Cid had wanted at all. I guess the dead have no choices. My heart felt like a stone and again I felt like a failure.

When the priest finished, I placed my hand on the top of the coffin and my tears dulled some of the gleam of the wood. “I love you Cid. I always will”. When I turned away I looked away over the hill and across the coulee. I hoped he heard me.

I was grateful that they didn’t lower the coffin into the ground as I stood there. I might have done the dramatic scene that we saw at the movies and thrown myself on top of the coffin as it sank into the earth. Instead, I found myself at the ‘head table’ with his mother and his uncle as everyone gathered for cake and tea. I could see my mother and brother with D and my cousin as they sat among the strangers and watched me. I had barely spoken to them and because Cid had asked me to help his mother, I stayed glued to my seat.

His mother sat with her shoulder turned away from me and when I tried to speak to her she tightened her lips and turned her head. When I laid my hand on her arm she pulled it away. If someone spoke to her, she barely nodded. I couldn’t understand why his family kept themselves so withdrawn from the people who had come to say good-bye to Cid. Their aloofness was so obvious that it made everyone in the room uncomfortable. People toyed with their cake and washed it down their dry throats with lukewarm tea. They spoke quietly among themselves as they eyed the three of us sitting behind our invisible wall. I remembered that Cid had said his family had come over from Italy and built themselves a place here all by themselves. They had never needed anyone, and even in their pain they weren’t going to let the barriers down.

Out of all of those people, one man came up to me and told me he had been Cid’s teacher at one time and he was one of the pallbearers. I didn’t realize at the time that I knew this man and his son. The son had worked for my brother as a guide and we had dated for a year and a half. The man’s name meant nothing to me that day and I didn’t realize who he was until three years later.

Then it was all over with and I had hugged my family and thanked them for coming and told them I would see them when I got home. My mother looked at me closely and asked me if I was all right. D hugged me hard, and he did it again. I could see that he had been crying and I leaned up against his chest and I could feel how warm his arms were as they wrapped around me once more. This man understood more than anyone else and how I wanted to stay inside that circle of his arms and give way to my grief.

When the limousine dropped us back at his mother’s house, I felt like my feet were made of lead. Inside the house his mother went directly to the couch and sat on it with her feet tight together and her lips matching. His uncle took the easy chair and said my name.

“We thank you for everything you have done for Cid. However, we want you to leave immediately. We are tired of you bossing us around and telling us what to do.”

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I know everyone is waiting for the story to continue - and so am I.

I have started writing it many times only to end up hitting the delete button and walking away.

I've dreamed about it in my sleep - I've thought about it while knitting. But it's not happening. I just can't get the words to come out the way I want them to. Not yet. And he deserves the best that I can do. Nothing less.

So I wait - right along with you. I know it will come and I know you are all going to say don't rush it - write it when you can. I know that. I also know there is a need to write it deep inside me. But I'm afraid - again.

Oh Cid.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

'The Man' Tales - The Viewing

I was only home a day when I received the call that the funeral arrangements had been made. Cid’s body had been transported to Lethbridge and his uncle and mother had made all the arrangements. Now his uncle was asking me to come down before the funeral and stay at the mother’s house.

The sun sparkled off the snowy fields and I was reminded of how cold the earth was in February. Cid had made this drive countless times and I tried to see the landscape as he had. The fields stretched off to the west – vast expanses of white. Their sheer vastness butted up against the magnificence of the snow covered Rocky Mountains that stood up stark and hard against the blue bowl of the prairie skies. I tried to see this beauty through Cid’s eyes. I tried to experience the wonder of southern Alberta as he might have as a child; fresh from Italy and afraid. But it was hard to see through my tears.

My stomach was a cold hard knot and it clenched as I walked up to the front door of his mother’s house. The uncle opened the door and Cid’s mother gave me a stiff hug before turning away. I often wonder if there is any pain greater than a mother’s when she loses a child.

After I was settled, I met them both again in the kitchen and we tried to eat a little something before we had to go for the viewing at the funeral home. It was difficult to keep up some pretense of a conversation as we watched the minute hand inspect all the points on the clock. When Cid’s mother went to lie down, I found a quiet spot in the recreation room and wrapped myself in a blanket – and cried. I felt like Catherine from Wuthering Heights as I called and called for Cid in my mind – but like Heathcliff - he never came.

The three of us dressed and as one we walked silently to the car and drove to the funeral home. I didn’t think it was possible, but that cold hard fist in my stomach tightened even further as we walked towards the front door, and I suddenly realized I was afraid. The funeral director met us and shook our hands and ushered us towards the room that held Cid’s body.

My knees started to shake and I thought I was going to faint as we walked up that long aisle towards the casket. The cloying scent of flowers almost made me swoon but all I was aware of was the casket with the lid propped open – and Cid. Taking a deep breath, I forced myself to keep walking until I stood beside him and looked at that face that I loved so much. I couldn’t stop the tears and I reached out and laid my hand on his cheek and whispered, “Oh Cid”.

I don’t know how much time had passed before I noticed that I was standing at the casket by myself. I turned and looked behind me and saw Cid’s mother leaning heavily on the arm of her brother, watching me. I felt horrible and didn’t know if I had committed a faux pas, and I put a weak smile on my face and motioned for them to join me. I could see that his mother was close to collapsing and I took her other arm and helped her to stand as we stood beside the casket. I don’t know who loved him the most, but the three of us stood there and wept.

I kept telling myself that he wasn’t here anymore, but he looked like he was. Just asleep. I kept telling myself that he was with me - but there was that space between again. I kept telling myself that my heart was still in one piece – it really was – but it felt ragged and torn and I thought it was weeping too. I felt like my whole life lay there with Cid and I dreaded the next day.

We sat in the front row and watched as friends came and looked down at Cid’s body before they came and whispered to his mother. I almost held my breath when Cid’s ex-fiancée brought her 2 children and stood beside the coffin. I knew how much she had hurt him. I knew she had been cruel and uncaring towards him – even when she knew he had cancer and was in pain. I remembered when he offered me the diamond ring she had worn and I had told him to give it back to her. She had told him it wasn’t the same without him attached to it, but she took it. Something to remember him by. She wouldn’t look at me when she came to whisper to his mother and all I could do was shrug my shoulders. Wasn’t it time to give this nonsense up?

Still – we sat there. Mostly in silence. For what seemed like an eternity. I could barely tear my eyes away from his face knowing that once they closed that lid he would be gone forever.

But finally it ended and we drove back to the mother’s house in silence. Later, Cid’s uncle said there was a van sitting out front of the house and he went outside to investigate. He came back in and told us the ex-fiancée was outside but wouldn’t come in because I was there. I threw my hands in the air and got in my car and went for a drive.