When things went ahead and eked to a slow and a stop (as most things are wont to do), she made sure to say, in some of those last words, “On to the next distraction then.” I suppose that, if she’d actually spoken them out loud, I’d have heard the hurt a little louder and sensed the anger a bit more readily. There’d have been eye windows to peer into and heightened inflections and body language and a myriad of other pieces to go about reading and observing. As it was, we didn’t do things that way very well. Instead, I had to feel what it was she’d written. There was quiet discernment and there was understanding.
It wasn’t the right time to shoot back that she’d been the loveliest sort of distraction I could have hoped for in those six or seven or eight months running, certainly one I’d not expected. We’d been able to live a lot of hours on beaches, set out on Saturday road trips that morphed into long weekends, grown familiar picking up where we’d left off over opposite sides of the table at breakfast and lunch and dinner. She was my ride along when it came to adventures; she’d make them richer than they’d ever have been otherwise. She had the quiet courage to wander along with where my whims would take the two of us. She was the last face I saw before sleeping, the first one I’d see when I woke.
She swore a whole lot better and more often than I. She occasionally offered statements revealing how deep her pools of thought were and I’d marvel at the insight. And, in what may have been my altogether favorite attribute, she’d the unique ability to laugh so loudly and so devoid of reservation, I found myself regularly wishing I could match her joy, maybe even capture some of her smiles for later. It wasn’t terribly hard to summon up that laughter and yet, each time it happened, I’d beam like a prizefighter. I’d won.
Maybe she’d not been a distraction at all. In fact, attaching her to the word devalued the very person she was to me. She’d been a very lovely and even necessary part of my equation and history. To have learned of her and how to love her and to have felt so much in return are each gifts I’m terribly grateful for, gifts it sometimes took me great lengths of time to accept and even understand. Walls I never knew I’d even had had gone and crumbled around my heart. She’d thrown down a welcome mat and stepped inside.
How does one forget all of that? When she said, “On to the next distraction,” I didn’t have it in me to say there wasn’t one. I’d not found a ready replacement. She’d gone and filled up so many memories I’d hold to, starred in so many of my best photos and even trickled now and again into my writing. I was not skipping through a field and scampering towards another. I’m still not. It was over, however. That much is true.
If I’m to dig any deeper (there being plenty of danger in that), perhaps I was the distraction, whether she meant it that way or not. I’d gone towards skipping my head on some clouds, opened myself wide in favor of the future. She’d sensed that.