There were moments where Johnny thought that one of the great tragedies of his life was his inability to sing or play an instrument. He was a man of passion and intensity who had known tragedy and triumph. He believed wholeheartedly that he had stumbled onto one of the great loves, if not the great love of his life. Fear and uncertainty had taken her from him and that was something that he had been unable to reconcile with himself.
For a long while he had foundered between anger and sadness. Most of that was directed inwards, which if you knew him was to be expected because he had no bigger critic than himself. There had been more than one occasion upon which he sat in the dark and stared into the black wondering what if. It was an easy trap for him to fall into albeit a foolish path for him to tread upon.
It was easy because hindsight made it clear that there had been a better way to do things. It was easy because looking backwards he could see the path that he should have taken and he didn’t know how not to hold himself accountable. It didn’t mean that June held no stake in this or that she wasn’t culpable because no relationship is completely one sided.
But Johnny always saw himself as her hero. It was what he wanted to be and he suspected so did she. In fact he was certain that it was how she had seen him. So he shouldered the burden of expectations that may not have been completely reasonable and did his best to try to understand how it was he had fallen from the mountaintop that he had once walked upon.
His pain was significant and in many ways far worse than it would have been had it been of a physical nature. A broken bone would have ached and stung but there was medication that one could take to numb it all or to at least take the edge off of it. There was no such salve for a broken heart. You couldn’t drink or smoke it away all that you could do was try to live through it.
She wasn’t the first woman to break his heart but she was the first to shatter it. For a long while he was convinced that there would never be a time where it would feel better. It made him angry and bitter. There were moments where he wondered if it was worth it. Moments where he thought that when he didn’t know that June existed he was happier.
But Johnny if was nothing else, he was a fighter. He didn’t walk away from battles or give up just because things got hard. In his younger years he would have approached this as a war that could be won via brute strength. His stamina and tolerance for pain were considerable and he would spent a significant amount of time attacking the problem from that angle alone.
However Johnny was no longer a young man who was led solely by emotion. Time and life experience had provided him with a certain amount of wisdom, enough to make him sit down and consider his situation. And in this case one could be confident that he had spent many hours examining this from all sides. One could be certain that he had taken the time to consider whether this was best left to rest or if the situation was something that could be salvaged and if so, how.
And so it came to pass that he found himself laughing at the absurdity of it all. Laughing because for the longest time he and June had argued over whether one could apply logic and reason to relationships. She had often maintained that she was both and he had laughed. He took great pleasure in teasing her about it and told her that logic/reason had a tenuous grip upon affairs of the heart.
Yet, here he was groping for strands of logic and reason that he could weave into a tapestry that made sense. If he wasn’t careful he would suddenly proclaim his love for Barry Manilow and calculus. The thought made him laugh harder and had you seen him you might have described it as gales of laughter emanating from him. And for the first time in a great while he felt joy and happiness.
He still loved that crazy woman. He loved her with the same fierce intensity as he had. She was still the woman he never knew he wanted or needed but this time he had developed a new understanding and appreciation for her.
It was easy to admit that he loved her but frightening to realize that he had no control over anything but himself. Easy to admit that he wanted her back and kind of thrilling to think of the future. Terrifying to realize that it might never happen and that he would just have to find a way to fill the hole.
Yet he couldn’t help but believe that she felt it too. Couldn’t help but believe that they weren’t done yet and that there was more than a little magic left. Couldn’t help but believe that maybe this time apart was what they needed and that it was going to be a key ingredient in helping them to forge a bond that was deeper than before.
And that made his heart pound. The two of them had loved each other more deeply than any other. They had gone to a place that few couples reach and thought that they had reached the top of the mountain. It almost seemed crazy to consider that they could get closer than they had before. Crazy because they weren’t together not by any definition of the term- not to mention that it seemed silly to tempt fate by suggesting such a thing out loud.
But relationships aren’t based solely upon the heart any more than just logic and reason. Rather they are a meld of all of that- a magical alloy that you can’t find listed in the periodic table. Call it the 107th element.
Johnny stretched his arms above his head and smiled broadly. Still smilingly he grabbed a coat and stepped out into the cold dark night. Alone with his thoughts he looked up at the moon and sent out thoughts of love and joy into the night. With care and great effort he directed them to find a woman working in a kitchen far from his.
He didn’t have to call, email or text her to know that she was working hard to prepare a Thanksgiving meal. Didn’t have to close his eyes to see her move gracefully from refrigerator to stove or to picture how good her food would smell.
There beneath the moon he thought again about how he wished that he could play an instrument and or sing. The two of them were living a silent symphony and he wanted to sing or play it for her. Still he couldn’t help but smile because he knew that she could hear the song of his heart and that was more than most.
Happy Thanksgiving June- I will see you on the other side.