It hurts too much. Still. Only the thought that he lives alone, brings me a sense of calm. I envision him walking through the beautiful forest, our forest, where he and I were supposed to grow old together. It was going to be our heaven, the Ocala National Forest. He’s wearing his bandana, long ponytail going all the way down his back. It’s completely gray now, his beard is white. It’s a cool morning so he’s wearing his camo jacket. He had finally bought the piece of land a few years ago. That had been his dream for years; our dream at one point in time. I hope I had something to do with making it come true for him. My God I love this man. I love him still. I need to put him there, in the deep woods for my mind’s sanity. He lives alone, no companion. No woman because there could be no-one else; not after losing me. Right? After all I meant to him, no woman could replace me. Ever. Quite a few have tried, Im sure. But, I cannot allow myself to go there, I won’t. He only loves me as I only love him.
His days as Superintendent at the construction site are long over; his knees being the cause of that. And his life as a welder is done as well. Forced into early retirement, he went back to Ocala, took refuge in the woods where he grew up. The place where he was the happiest and where he wasn’t. He spends his days mostly as a camper. His skills are impeccable so living out there is not much of a challenge. He wakes up too early so I know he immediately goes out walking, finds wood to cut and collect, keeping busy so the morning will hurry on. Later, he might adjust the solar panels so that they receive the maximum light, prepares his food for dinner and after his afternoon nap, fires up his red portable bbq. He and I always loved cooking on the tripod over a fire but the bbq is just more convenient these days.
After his supper, he sits outside the camper, near a beautiful fire he built and smokes a cigarette. He thinks about how much he has always loved it out there and thinks about his life in Ocala and the forest, then, thinks about me. He thinks about the camping trips we took together and feels gratification at how he introduced me to the camping world; taught me to love it. I do love it. The set up ,the smells, the dangerous dark woods. He’s pretty sure I take my children camping and most probably tell them it was he who taught me all I know. That thought, gives him, a sense of calm. He had been that man in my life, if none other. He had given me that.
The grin on his face grows as he thinks about our crazy adventures, how we were silly and laughed and got drunk; played Johnny Cash on the radio. I made him laugh alot. He thinks about that, about my jokes and the things I came up with. He thought I was adorable. He knew I loved him. He also knew we were on very short, borrowed time from day one. I could fly away and disappear at any moment. His ten years over me were against us. And that’s why he never gave me what I wanted, not completely. The price was too high, he wouldn’t survive, barely did. Therefore, he was grateful for his land, hidden far away from humanity. Although, I was in every corner, especially this night. He could not escape no matter how deep into that forest he went. Our time together was the cause of that.
Long ago, he had realized, I was the great love of his life. I was the woman he loved the most. The other one he had secretly pinned for was nothing in comparison. You see, I loved him selflessly. I filled his empty heart and spirit. I made him happy. I made him feel worthy again. I was too good to be true. Broken people feel they don’t deserve good things, it’s just part of it. He sabotaged it every chance he got. I pulled and he pushed. But he was always there, watching, waiting listening in case I came calling. I am inside him forever just as he is with me every day of my life too.
The night is dark all around him now, the stars are sparkling all over the sky and the big round moon is casting her light down on him. He looks up at its fullness and smiles wide. I have a thing for full moons and its energy and other witchy stuff he doesn’t quite get. Its all funny to him. I could be a little girl at times; he likes that part of me. It’s innocent; sweet. I am also a wild one. Man, he wanted to pull his hair out sometimes. But, nevertheless, I was his girl. I was his baby carrot. “Baby carrot”, he says out loud.
He envisions my face smiling at him, it’s branded in his mind. My eyes are bright, they look at him with tenderness. He does a mental count; it’s been four, not four but five years since he has either spoken to me or seen me. He thinks of my little Antonia and how grown up she must be. What if? He wont think about that. She probably wont remember him, he’s sure of it and that makes him feel sad. He immediately says to himself, “better that way”. Staring into the fire, he wonders if I am with another man; his fingers tighten around the blue velvety blanket that lays on his lap. It was a gift from me many years ago. “Your’e better off, you deserve to be happy.” He remembers his last words to me and fights back tears. They escape anyway and he wipes them away, angrily.
He is planning on going to bed any minute now. Enough with these thoughts. He then shuts his eyes tight and leans his head back. Trying to erase his thoughts, my voice is in his ear, “Dream with us tonight my love. Dream we our out on the boat, in the sun, somewhere, just you and me.” He hears me clearly. He wishes the voice was real. He wants to turn around and find me standing there. I want to be there too, I want to run to him and never be away from him again. I am safe when I am with him, he is my life. He suddenly feels a pain in his chest and his eyes well up again. He misses me bad. I am his heart. I am the woman he cant forget, cannot get over. I am the one. He assures himself I am somewhere thinking of him as well. Feeling the loss; still. I have never stopped loving him. He knows he will die missing me. Regret will be the cause of that.