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for those whom I never met...


love and pain mingle together
loss and renewal as we remember
saddened yet not without hope
as heart by heart
choose to accept and embrace change
all too human...
Dale sat on the front porch rocker and watched the sun disappear behind the city skyline as the day came to a close. A few minutes more and it would be dark followed nearly immediately by the artificial glow of pretend suns spaced every one hundred feet; make-believe and inadequate to the task. Make-believe. She rose and walked into the house; the loud clap of the wooden screen door as it sprung back into place was jarring. The sound an invasive if somewhat fading reminder of a horror that died long ago.
“Honey? Are you hungry at all? I can make something quick or we can just order out. I didn’t make anything because I guess I didn’t think you’d really want to eat. But you’ve got to eat at least something?” Janey called from the kitchen. Dale paused for a moment at the bathroom door before speaking.
“No…yeah…okay…maybe I’ll just walk over to Lorenzo’s and get a pizza later? I’m not….Whatever you want; I’ll pick it up…” Dale wasn’t hungry at all, and likely would go without anything until Monday, but Janey kept at it in her soft persuasive and entirely loving way.
“Why don’t you take a shower and relax. I’ll pour you a glass of Merlot and we can sit out here. You can even rest on my lap if you like?” She practically crooned the words; she had a way of disarming any threats and softening any blows that might come down on the love of her life, even if most of them were self-inflicted.
“Okay.” The bathroom door closed with a click. She walked to the sink and stared at herself in the mirror. Why did it hurt so much? She had lived without any idea of herself for years, and even now, she had great relationship. What more could she ask for?
The sounds of some jazz combo squeezed between the door jamb, adding a sound track to the melodrama that was her life; at least she felt melodramatic. On a day of tears, somehow her thoughts and prayers seemed so emotive; over the top like some teenager screaming about how bad her life is when her mother is working two jobs because dad took off with his secretary.
“You don’t deserve to be happy!” Her eyes convicted even as her thoughts condemned. She shook her head and wondered just how she got to be so selfish. Today of all days, she was just so self-centered. How could she even dream of asking for something so special when others cried out from cold dark places? What did she ever do to deserve to be as happy as he was, and yet here he wanted more?
“I don’t hear the water running. Would you just like to come out here and cuddle on the couch?” That voice; so special and warm and tender. What more could she ask for, especially when the day marked the departure of some that never had anything except grief and sadness.
“Dale…don’t …” she turned to see Janey standing in the doorway; she was so absorbed in her selfish thoughts that she didn’t even hear the door open.
“How can I? What right do I have?” She looked at Janey before turning back to the mirror. Her hand rose from her side as she grabbed at the hair…the wig on her head came off and dropped to the floor.
“Dale? I told you it’s okay. Sure I don’t understand, but how many times must I tell you I love you before it sinks in?” She rested her head against the door frame, wondering inside just what she had asked; what was lacking in her communication? What could she say to show how much she loved her husband? Maybe she had run out of words.
Dale…it’s okay,” she repeated. He wasn’t so much ignoring her words as fighting to set aside his selfishness. And he was winning even as his heart was breaking. Clothing dropped quickly to the floor and he climbed in the shower. The cold water jarred him a bit when he turned the handle. A moment later the shower curtain parted to reveal Janey standing there as bare as him, with a half-smile on her face and tears in her eyes.
“You’re mine, for what it’s worth, Dale…all of you. I’m not going anywhere, and neither should you. All of you…stay with me?” Her appeal made no sense. A second later he shuddered as she began to kiss his back, of all places. Her hands surrounded his waist and she began to caress him. Everywhere but ‘there,’ her fingers played with his nipples as she kissed his neck;
“All of you, Dale.” In a few moments they both emerged from the shower. He went to grab a towel, but she pulled it away and began to dry him; tenderly and slowly and carefully. She grabbed him by the hand and led him back into the bedroom, sitting him down on the bed.
“Janey…I…I’m sorry…I…” He choked back a sob.
“I know, Dale. Shhhhhh.” She kissed him on the forehead before walking to her bureau. Reaching in, she pulled something off the rod and returned to bed. Seconds later she stood before him in a soft cotton flannel nightgown; pink with rose appliqués. He tilted his head and shrugged his shoulders even as tears began to fall onto the floor.
“Dale? It’s okay…” She handed him the other garment in her hand, urging him with a smile and a nod of her head. A few seconds later he sat back on the bed; his body clad in soft welcoming cotton flannel. Mint Green with Violet flower appliqués. She pushed him onto his back and he started to shake; just a small nervous tremor. She shook her head, but remained smiling as she rolled him onto his side and lay down behind him. The shaking continued but began to diminish as she stroked his still wet hair.
“We all love to cuddle now and then, Dale.”
“But…” He began to protest. Once again, he felt entirely selfish and foolish and self-indulgent on a day of remembering the sacrifices of others. How could he ask for ‘more’ when some never had ‘any?’ How could he possibly hope to dream when others never hoped at all in the midst of their own dreams. Janey felt the questions through the rocky tension of his shoulders and the continued shaking of his body. A conversation that neither remembered starting but one that promised to go on for a lifetime. She kissed the flannel on his back and spoke.
“Dale…honey…remember?” He couldn’t forget on a day of remembrance. She reminded him once again, but her words finally broke through his selfish selflessness.
“Dale…stop it. I said it’s okay and you need to stop.” He wondered why now the rebuke and he went to take the nightgown off, but her hands pulled his around as she faced him on the bed.
“They died…yes…but it’s for this very moment that their sacrifices were made. So that you and your friends could be who you are? If that sacrifice is to have meaning, then you must go on…you have to stop blaming yourself for others. You have to embrace every bit of you even as I have. I know you don’t even understand, so why should I? Because I love you, and we’ll figure this out together. So think of them…often, but not to feel guilt or shame, but to rejoice in their memory, even if you never met a single one just like you before today.”
She pulled him closer and kissed him…on the cheek. They fell asleep a while later; more out of relief and calm assurance even though the day had been sad and long. Maybe still like husband and wife, but like two sisters as well? Things had changed; maybe forever…but some things would always be the same. And that’s really what love is all about, isn’t it?

Theme to Glory
composed by James Horner

Excerpt from All Too Human
by Andrea Lena DiMaggio

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