He Held Her Hand

Their first date found her falling asleep on his sofa as he held her hand while laying on the floor. 

Their last date, decades and a life time of experiences later, consisted of him holding her had as she took her last breath. 

The land of What If

It’s built like the kingdoms of old. Fortified by high walls, guards, a real moat with dangerous looking fish that have sharp teeth and are always looking for a nibble. When you enter its gates it is understandable if you are overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. There is one way in and one way out. Maybe. Creative exits and entries are allowed and encouraged. That’s how the town got its name, What If. 

Like most settlements you have the naysayers and the yaysayers and then there are those who quite honestly don’t care. It’s the people who make the town what it is. What is it exactly? I’m getting to that. As the narrator it’s my job to weave a tale of mystery and intrigue. There I went and added more pressure to myself. What if you don’t agree that I’m intriguing or what if you decide that I’m only slightly interesting. 

Where was I? Ahhh yes! The town. Some of the town is rather bland and unassuming while other parts are colorful and bold. There are no rules or associations setup for neighborhood dictatation it’s merely your imagination that opens or close the door to your mind’s elaboration. The bland and the bold intermingle throughout. There is no set pattern, nor rhyme or reason just whatever was pleasing to the purchaser and dweller. They decide quite naturally depending on their reasons. What if I’m not accepted or what if I stand out? What if I have to repaint? What if I get to recreate something magical? It’s your outlook and perception that act as your interjection. 

Do the dwellings reflect the owners garbs and gowns? Not necessarily. After all, one could live in a home without color but choose to dress like a beautiful rainbow and accessorizing  with things that shine or sparkle. There is no rhyme or reason it depends on what they consider pleasing. 

What if  you take a moment to walk about town take time to breathe in the aromas of the markets’ fresh wares? Fruits, vegetables, fresh seafood and meats. Boiling soups and desserts freshly baked will flirt with your senses and draw you in like the sirens. Feel the texture of the clothes and become awed by their colors. Or you can walk past the market with a swift foot not indulging in the sights or sounds. What if you have an important meeting or want to go home after a long day of working?

What if you get to decide how to live? What if you get to decide what to fear? What if your glass is half empty and another’s half full and yet others celebrate with the chance to add ice or rum to theirs? What if you what if yourself into a tizzy? What if you have so many brilliant thoughts and ideas that make your brain dizzy? What if indeed the never ending tale. It’s been around for centuries and will continue until the end of ages. 
We had a rough Mother’s Day of 2015. We spent time off and on all day in our closet due to tornado warnings. When I put Little Dude (9 year old and #3 of 4) to bed he said he was scared. “What if a tornado comes while I’m asleep?” My response was, “I don’t live in the land of what ifs unless it’s full of positive thoughts.” We then began to what if some hopeful and silly things. He slept peacefully with his mind full of cheer and not fear. 

Peter, Paula and Mary

Peter:
I had that same dream again. The one I’ve had so often I’ve memorized the dance of the leaves as they sway in the wind. It’s the same dream everytime. I am walking through the park. It’s a great day outside. The sun is shining, the clouds are soft, white and look fluffy. I gaze over at the bench and there she is. She’s always there. After 20+ years of knitting the same sweater you’d think she would be done. But, she’s never any further along. We make eye contact and she slowly rises off the bench, calls me by my given name and gives me a big hug. She steps back and looks at me and asks where I’ve been. Then I wake up. I never get to tell her what happened when my boat landed in America. I never get to mention how I searched for her for years but could never locate her. I never get to tell her about my devoted wife who’s carrying our first child. I never get to tell her because I wake up.

    Paula:
    He must be having that dream again. Sigh. When will it ever stop? He came over alone from Vietnam. He was supposed to meet his mom under the rainbow in the market. They had studied the map for weeks. The route was laid out, he knew where to stop for food and drink as he journeyed to the meeting place. She could not greet his boat because it was arriving under the cover of darkness and they didn’t want to draw attention to its arrival. There were no streamers or people gathered to welcome them to this new land. He didn’t know his boat was reported lost at sea but the boat and all seven of the passengers made it through the tumultuous storm that attempted to rob them of their future. They were a week and a day late but he knew him mom would wait for him in the place marked on the map. 

    Mary:
    I went to the market every night for a week. Finally someone told me the boat was missing. Missing?!? Aaaaahhhhhh!!! I cried out in great despair. No matter how much the tried to console me or hush me I could not push my pain down. It wanted to be released into the universe and so I let it go. I don’t know how long I laid there. In my mind I saw his sweet face smiling and waving at me telling me not to worry. He would be fine. For some reason they split us up. They insisted I go first to find a job and make a home. Why did I listen to them?!? This journey was for him, his future, his opportunity to be more than a poor village kid. Looking around the market and seeing the rainbow was too much to bear. I moved to another city far far away from my regrets and pain. 

    Peter:
    I rub my wife’s back and apologize for waking her. The further along she gets in the pregnancy the more she enjoys the back rubs. I suggest we take a walk in the park. It’s supposed to help with circulation. Besides, I like walking through the park I designed. The market was abandoned years ago. I was commissioned to design something that would continue to knit the community together. My immediate thought was a park. On the very spot where I was supposed to meet my mom I placed a bench. It was the same bench from my dream. I had hope I was aligning the stars and helping my dream become a reality. 

    Mary:
    After many years of running from my pain I moved back to the place where it all began. I needed peace. I needed to embrace my past and emotionally bury my son. The last time I saw him he was wearing a red sweater. I wanted to knit him a new one and bury it in the park that now stood in the place of the market. I planned to bury the grief I’ve carried for over 20 years. It was a beautiful place. Even though it was full of people it was still serene. I found an empty bench and continued knitting the sweater. I decided to make on the perfect size for a baby. I couldn’t bring a shovel with me to dig the hole. I wanted to be discreet as I held a short memorial service with one attendee. 

    Paula:
    I saw her first. Just as we rounded the bend on the walking path. She was just as he had described her in his dream. 

    Peter:
    Are my sleepless eyes providing me with a mirage? Am I at home in my bed sleeping? It’s her!! It’s really her! We make eye contact and she slowly rises off the bench, calls me by my given name and gives me a big hug. She steps back and looks at me and asks where I’ve been.