Send Me a Song

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Send_Me_A_Song_0.jpg


I will sing to you
If you promise to send me a song


The Lomonica home, early April…

Jeff stood in the driveway and waved as Dee drove off for her appointment. She had been looking forward to spending time with Jeff upon her return from the job interview. The fast pace of the hospital was getting to both of them, and the opening at the doctor's office in Ardmore would provide Dee at least with some rest. They had been married four years in April and were still having no success in the baby department, and they hoped the change of pace would help. He walked back into the apartment in time to hear the haunting melody.

Oh, the nights will be long when I'm not in your arms
But I'll be in this song that you sing to me
Across the sea, somehow, someday
You will be far away, so far from me
And maybe someday I will follow you in all you do
'Til then, send me a song


He sang along with Meav' and Orla and the rest of the girls as he spent the afternoon cleaning up the apartment in preparation for what they anticipated would be a celebration for Dee’s new job. He was just making the bed when the doorbell rang. He was almost down the hall when the bell rang again, and he rushed to the door to see why the person was so impatient. He opened the door to find two policemen standing on the landing. The younger of the two was nervous, and avoided looking at Jeff. The older of the two wasn't nervous but stepped back as Jeff opened the door.

"Are you Jeffrey Lomonica?" the officer asked tentatively, as if he did not want Jeff to answer.

"Yes, I'm Jeff Lomonica. What can I do for you, officers?"

"I'm sorry, but I have bad news."

Everything the officer said after that was lost to Jeff as he collapsed in utter heartbreak


Late May…

"You got everything you need, Buddy?" Lou and Nancy Bartilimeo both worked at the hospital and were the closest thing that Jeff and Dee...Jeff had for family. Nancy was working the ER when Dee came in, and actually held her hand until they took her to surgery. She never made it out of the elevator, and Nancy stayed and waited for Jeff and the police. Lou met her there and drove Jeff home.

"You guys are terrific, but I want to just get this over with. I'll call you when I get to the apartment, so don't worry."

They would have done anything for him, but they felt helpless as they watched their friend deal with the loss of his wife. Her death was doubly bitter, since unbeknownst to them both, she was two months pregnant. It had been three months since the accident, and Jeff planned to clean the apartment out of most of Dee's things. He'd keep all the pictures and other things of memory, but everything else was going to get packed up for Good Will. His lease was up at the end of July, and he planned on moving into a smaller apartment.

Jeff was familiar with the stages of grief; he'd counseled enough families as a social worker for the children's oncology department. But he was in the middle of his own grief, and wasn't thinking; he was feeling his way through the pain, which is understandable. People often make the mistake of giving away the possessions of their loved ones as a way of moving on, but they soon regret that decision. Fate was quick to intervene on Jeff's behalf to prevent him from making a regretful choice, and would also provide something that would change everything else as well.


Jeff had summoned up the strength to go shopping when he heard a voice as he was pulling up to the store.

"Jeff? Jeff...Jeff Lomonica!" Jeff turned to see a pretty blond woman getting out of her car two spaces down from his in the Shop Rite parking lot. "It's you...Oh, God...I haven't seen you...since the wedding. How are you...How's Dee?" Angela walked quickly up to his car and stood by his door. Jeff looked up, and smiled, putting his hand out in greeting.

"Hi, Angela." He said as he got out of the car. She went to hug him and he accepted her embrace, but so tentatively that she noticed his reluctance. She pulled back and saw that he had a pained look on his face; anger mixed with fear.

"Jeff? What's wrong?" She put her hand on his arm as he turned away; not to leave, but to try to put into words for the hundredth time...

"Dee's gone....She was killed in a car accident in April." He said it with almost no emotion save for the same look that remained on his face like a mask.

"Oh, my God, I'm so sorry." Angela started to cry softly, but breathed deep and went to hug Jeff again. He once again accepted her hug stiffly.

"It's alright." He said, but it was obvious that things were far from alright.

Another time, Angela might have been quick to speak abruptly, but the death of her own sister two years ago put things into a painfully understandable perspective and she whispered instead,

"Oh, Jeff....I am so sorry," once again, followed by a soft touch on his arm and, "Is there anything I can do? You loved each other so much. I can't imagine how hard this must be." Her tears were sincere and moving, but only cracked his wall a little."

"No, Angela, that's very kind of you....I...I'll be alright." His tone and the change of verb tense to "will be" indicated that he wasn't completely in denial.

At one time Angela would have moved heaven and earth for him, if that were possible. She and Dee had met Jeff at almost the same time, and it took a long time for her to get over losing him. She not only accepted, but eventually rejoiced in the fact that he and Dee were "made for each other." But she never really stopped loving him.

"Hey, I've gotta go. It's been great seeing you."

Jeff quickly walked into the store, leaving Angela to try to figure out how to mend a broken heart she had been convinced was completely healed. Like an old scar, her love for him was healed, but seeing him was like stiff fabric scraping over the sensitive area, causing forgotten feelings to rise to the surface. Her tears weren't only for her, however, since her real love for him felt his pain and cried to God for his healing.


"I'm sorry Jeff, but I can't get over there today. The roof leaked last night, and all the boxes we set aside are soaked. I can pick up some from the other warehouse, but it won't be until tomorrow afternoon. Thanks again for the donation. Please call me if you need anything else, but I'll call you by lunchtime tomorrow, either way." Jeff hung up the phone and walked back into the bedroom.

The bed was piled high with Dee's clothing, still on the hangers awaiting the boxes that lay soaked in the warehouse across town. Jeff figured he might as well move the clothing to the couch in the living room for packing tomorrow. He reached down and grabbed some dresses, but when he did his eyes fell on the dress on the top in his hands. A shimmery grey silk dress, it had been Dee's favorite, and she wore it to their anniversary dinner last fall. She always looked great, but this one especially complemented her striking good looks.

Certain things can "set" us off; a scent, a sound, a touch. Jeff's wall had already started to crack earlier that day when he saw Angela. It might seem almost odd how even good experiences can cause us to think of bad ones. Seeing the dress was like the water that had frozen in the cracks of his emotions, but instead of producing a frost, the iced expanded and broke the dam altogether.

He awoke to the sound of an ice cream truck passing by the apartment. He looked at his watch and realized it was already 7:30; he had cried until he fallen asleep, exhausted from all the energy that was spent in building that wall. He sat up, realizing he was lying on the floor next to the bed. The dresses were underneath him, like a mattress, and the top dress was awash with his tears.


Saxby’s Coffeehouse a few weeks later…

"I didn't even realize he worked in the same place...after two years!" Angela said to Gina as they waited for the waitress to finish with Erica's order. Angela worked Labor and Delivery on the other side of the hospital while Jeff had worked as a social worker for the oncology department and they had never run into each other. Angela had made friends with Gina and Erica through church, and Gina had helped her when her nephew had gone through his own private hell.

"And he sounds like he's right smack dab in the middle of the grieving process." Gina said as she sipped her ice water. "I know my Ben had a rough time coping with his own problems; counselors sometimes aren't able to see for themselves what they help others see."

Gina's husband Ben had been the victim along with his mother of neglect and abuse at the hands of his dad, and while he had been able to help kids in similar circumstances, he struggled with his own feelings of guilt and shame, but it was the touch of God through friends in general and Gina in particular that moved him toward healing.

"I think it would be a good thing if you reached out to him? Call him of course to start with, but just to remind him that he's not alone." Gina continued. Erica added,

"Maybe an invitation to church, but I know you you’ll you'll downplay that, since what he needs now is friendship and support.”

All of the women at the table could feel for Jeff; they all were well acquainted with grief. Erica's dad had died in the first Gulf War, and she and her husband had come through his bout with cancer and the miscarriage of their only child. Gina's dad died when a drunk driver lost control and hit his pickup broadside. Angela's sister Inga died after years of abuse by her husband, and her nephew nearly died as the result of abuse at the hands of her brother-in-law. All three women shared a common bond with the men in their lives as well, but more about that later.


Erica had gone to the ladies room when Angela leaned over and said,

"I...." She started to mist up, and Gina looked at her with a warm smile."

"It's okay, honey...I kinda figured it out already."

"Figured out what?" Erica said.

"Angela still has feelings for Jeff." Gina blurted it out as Erica returned. Angela's fair Scandinavian complexion turned beet red, which startled the waitress who had returned with their soup.

"Too much niacin," Gina said with a smile.


Jeff finished packing the clothes, and had put three large boxes by the door for pickup the next day. He looked back at his couch, which was still somewhat covered with clothing. To say that he had thought better of his choice to give away Dee's possessions would have given him too much credit. He really had little choice.

He looked at the pile and his stomach began to churn. He wanted to unfold the rest of the boxes and pack the remaining clothing but he was almost paralyzed. Some of you may have experienced the same feelings that he was having, and even if you haven't lost a loved one, perhaps there's someone you know whom you believe would think less of you....He wanted not to, but he recalled it anyway.


A few years before…

Dee and her mother sat in Dee’s living room. They had been arguing over her mother’s insensitive remark about Jeff’s manhood. She defended herself.

"Oh, I don't think he's like that, sweetie. But you have to admit, he'll never play linebacker for the Eagles," she said, which would have been bad enough if she only said it to her daughter, but she said it in front of Jeff.

"Louise Esposito says that you two could be related; even sisters,” she laughed. Once again, she said it, caring little about the embarrassment it cause her future son-in-law. Her description wasn't completely invalid; his background was Northern Italian, and Dee's heritage was Swedish and Finn, so they both had fair complexions. It didn’t help that he was not a particularly big guy, and it really didn't help that they went to a costume party as cheerleaders for Halloween, and he had regrettably been mistaken for her sister.

After the wedding, Dee would tease him (quite innocently, without realizing the harm) about the resemblance, even to the point of dressing him in her nightgown on a couple of occasions. Dee had thought was innocent fun, but it really wasn't much fun at all, since he actually did look a little like her.

It was hard to deal with, and his own self diminished as he felt more pretty than handsome. She never said that, and she never felt that, and if she had it to do all over again she wouldn't have teased him. She would have never started something like that if she knew how much it hurt him. And even if it really didn't seem to hurt their relationship in the bedroom, neither it did it help at all to build his male self-esteem. Each time she had asked, and she only asked a few times, he agreed, until it got to the point where he looked forward to it. He hated himself for it even as he enjoyed it. The pleasure only served to reinforce the feelings, and he found himself dressing even when she wasn't around.


The present…

Oh the nights will be long
When I'm not in your arms
But I'll be in this song
That you sing to me across the sea
Somehow, someday

The woman looked back at him nervously. Mirrors often seem to reflect a lot of anxiety and shame and guilt, but it's really just us unjustly judging ourselves. Our conflicts may come from different backgrounds and experiences but the shame and fear usually are the same. Her look told him everything he needed to know, or so she thought. You may recall how the gaps in our narrative cause us to fill in the blanks, and more often than not, we make huge errors as to what should go where or even if it belongs at all.

Jeff thought that he was less of a man in Dee's eyes. Like the spies in Canaan, Jeff's perception was skewed, and he saw himself less than he was seen by his Creator. Dee loved him; she told him that every day. His own lack of self-esteem caused his relationship with her to be framed off center and out of focus, and his dressing became less of a part of him and more of a habit born of confusion and fear. His perception would change only when he realized how much he had been loved; how much he would be loved and whom he would come to love.


Dee would never have said the next thing, but he heard her speak it anyway.

"My mother was right." If he could have really heard her voice, she would have said, "Mommy was wrong. You are a wonderful, kind, and caring man, and I'm glad God brought us together even if just for a little while at least.'


At the hospital…

"Jeff...Wait up!" Angela called to the elevator. He put his hand against the door and she walked into the car.

"Oh, Hi Angela." Jeff looked at her and became embarrassed. He had regretted not returning her calls, and even more so, he was taken aback by the all too intrusive feelings of shame you might feel when you sense that someone might know a secret or two about you, even though they don’t.

"I wanted to let you know that I've been praying for you. I know how hard it was for me when Inga died, but it must be so terrible for you right now." Angela would never have been so forward, but they were alone in the elevator except for the shame and guilt that sat on Jeff's shoulders.

"I'm sorry if I haven't been of any help to you, but you are very special to me. You and I go back a ways and you will always be one of my closest friends, even if I never told you. Please forgive me."

She hadn't really done anything wrong. She had vowed to be a supportive friend and she rejoiced when Jeff and Dee married, even though it had been at the expense of her only dream. We sometimes do things we can't explain, or maybe we sort of know why, but we can't help ourselves. Even if what we say or do is actually innocent. Angela couldn't help herself, even if she had tried. She looked at the number six as it lit up.

"Please call me." She smiled and leaned over and kissed him on the cheek before exiting the car. It really was a sisterly kiss, but the precursor to something much more.


That evening…

Like many of her sisters, the woman staring into the mirror had no name. She never would gain one, she had thought, either, since she wasn't really there at all. The woman looked at herself, and actually liked what she saw. Her blond hair was almost to her shoulders, held back at the sides by tortoiseshell burettes. Her makeup was modest, save for a hint of eye shadow and lip gloss.
She wore the favorite dress, which fell to just below her knee with a full skirt. The fabric shimmered in the light overhead, and she felt good. Well, at least as good as someone who is torn in two between the small pull of being attractive and accepted and the overwhelmingly huge feelings of shame and regret over feeling out of place and lost.

Like many of her sisters, though, her feelings were too close to the surface to suppress, and she wept as she hated herself. The one she resembled, but only just a little as she came to realize later, never would have hated her, regardless. And the one who had loved her all along would never hate her, either. Emotional doors have a habit of being left unlocked regardless of our precautions. The door that opened unexpectedly wasn't to the apartment where the woman lived, but to the heart that needed so much to be healed.


A few days later…

"I'm sorry, Jeff, but I didn't mean to be forward the other day." Angela said. She had cornered him in line in the cafeteria and spoke only in words that were generic enough not to give clues to the staff in front and back, had they actually been listening.

"We've known each other since college, and I care about you. Since Inga died, I've tried to "seize the day," as they say, and I can't let a moment go by without doing what I can to be as loving and caring as I possibly can." Angela's grief over her sister's death, coupled with her role in helping her nephew through his crisis, pulled her out of her emotional complacency into a life devoted to friends and family. Angela always would consider Jeff a friend, and would love to have been part of his family.

"My friend Gina is head of the Guidance department over at Central High. Her husband just recently opened a counseling practice, and she said that he would be happy to see you. I know this is difficult, but you seem so sad."

With that, her eyes actually began to tear up.

"I'm not telling you to do anything. Just think of it as a gift that you don't have to accept if you don't want to, but I hope you will."

"Thanks, Angela, but I'm just not ready for that. Hey, I've got to get to the ward, I'll see you around."

Angela was caught up in the moment. Her feelings for Jeff grew every time she saw him. She actually tried to avoid being in the same place at the hospital, but apparently the Director of this drama had other ideas. She really didn't mean to, but she was taken by the moment, and grabbed his arm as he tried to leave. She reached over and kissed him on the cheek; less like a sister and more like a girlfriend, as some might say. And then she turned away and was out the exit of the cafeteria, leaving Jeff and about four other people in line wondering what had just happened.


The Kelly-Sorrento home…

"Ben Kelly, how may I help you?"

"Dr. Kelly, my name is Jeff Lomonica, I understand that you counsel."

"Forgive me, Jeff, but I actually have anticipated your call. My wife gave me a heads up. Being the practice is just getting started, and only part time to boot, I've plenty of room on my calendar. You tell me when you can come in, and I'll be here."


Later that week…

"I hope you don't mind, but my assistant Rocco who helps me with the practice." Ben said as he offered a chair to Jeff. Jeff looked over his shoulder, expecting an intern to walk in, but instead noticed a bull terrier ambled calmly into the office, a chew toy in his mouth.

The next half-hour was filled with the mundane medical history and background interview, but segued quickly into real questions and harder, more painful answers. Ben had explained that his practice, such as it was, had a lot of space on the calendar, and he saw no urgency to show Jeff the door. Jeff had not known, but Ben wasn't providing professional services, per se, since he wasn't charging anything for his help.

It was an offering, as Gina put it, in a way of fulfilling what he had dreamed of when he first got help for himself; sort of a spiritual/psychological pay-it forward. It certainly helped to find out that his estranged father had actually thought of him after over seventeen years after abandoning him and his mother. His dad had passed away the previous year and had left Ben some money; not a lot, but enough to supplement his own guidance counselor pay at the middle school, at least for the moment, allowing him to bless others with the "same comfort he had received."


Jeff was surprised to hear his counselor remind him that "real men," cry. It was even more of a surprise, but also a welcome relief for Jeff to find out that much of what he felt about himself had been..."inaccurate." He was dealing with so many issues at once; his overwhelming grief over the death of his wife; his feelings of guilt and shame for his cross dressing, which he erroneously felt was a betrayal of her memory; and his newfound feelings of affection for Angela, which he also viewed as betraying Dee. Unfortunately for him, and the same for so many who have dealt with this issue, the stuff all got mixed up together. He never really understood why he dressed, and his talk with Ben, as brief as it was, at least helped him understand two things.

First, there would be no guarantees that he would ever completely understand why he dressed. And secondly, like the old joke goes, "it would take time," but totally unlike the joke, he didn't necessarily have to change, at least where his dressing was concerned. He might decide to stop or not, but it would be a choice he made out in the light of day rather than in the dark of shame and regret. And he found out by answering his own questions (some counselors swear by it) that it wasn't a betrayal to have feelings for Angela. He had them before, but God led him in another direction. And perhaps God was leading him again.


A few weeks later…

"We're going to go to dinner tomorrow. Please pray for us." Gina smiled and nodded. Angela wasn't praying for success. Her rediscovery of her faith had shown her that the first concern would always be what kind of person she was and how she treated others; God would sort out the rest. Even still, she hoped this first date would at least lead to a second. She had prayed and thought long and hard. As much as she wanted to see something happen, she was sensitive to Dee's memory as well.

It had been nine months since she had run into Jeff in the parking lot, and while that might seem like an eternity for some, it was only a little less than a year since Dee died. Jeff was too important to her to rush things, and if it never "got off the ground," her growing love for him was more important than what she wanted to see take place.

"Sweetie, you're going to be okay...." Gina said, nodding with a soft smile. Erica looked at Angela and smiled.

"You know all about me and Mark. While Erica and Mark didn’t introduce everyone to Mark’s “sister” Maired, neither did they hide her away, so to speak. A handful of friends knew, including Angela, and they remained supportive.

“We have found that life's too short to make it shorter. We’ve prayed for you and Jeff, and I know you've handled it right. We love you both, and however it plays out, we support you."

"I know. When Jeff told me last week about....Well, I thought about how I found out about Rickie. It's almost like trying to make the loss go away. Rickie couldn't help dressing, since it was part of him trying to hold on to Inga. Jeff says he and Ben have talked about that very thing, and it's like he couldn't really let Dee go. Oh, I know there's a whole lot of other stuff going on, but he loved her so much, and as much as I felt hurt then, I know Dee was exactly who he needed. I can only hope that I can keep being a part of his life, even if only from the sidelines.'

"Sweetie, I'm not the head coach, but I think you just might be first team sometime soon." Gina said as she ate a forkful of cucumber salad.


Dee's picture sat on the dresser. She never really was there, but she then she never really left him, either. It would be nice to say that she left him a note of encouragement or a letter of love, but he found neither because none had been written. What he had found, instead, was that she had written a letter on his heart, as has been said. When he finally was able to push away the curtains of grief and misplaced guilt, he was able to look out the window and recall the good times; the absolutely wonderful days that took their rightful place and supplanted the sadness.

The door to his heart finally swung open, and he could remember her smile without looking at her picture. And he remembered her voice and it no longer hurt from the grief; now he could remember how she sang and even whistled now and then. He remembered all the times she said she loved him, and how his last words to her were "I love you." And he remembered the last words he heard from her as she sang to herself (and to him) one last time.

I walk by the shore and I hear
Hear your song come so faint and so clear
And I catch it, a breath on the wind
And I smile and I sing you a song
I will send you a song
I will sing you a song
I will sing to you
If you promise to send me a song

He found himself singing the song as he folded the clothing and placed it carefully in the boxes. He hadn't dressed in over two months. But he wasn't at all ashamed anymore, apart from the occasional feelings of doubt we all have.

He looked forward to dinner tomorrow, and he also hoped it would be a new beginning. Oh, of course he needed to change, just like we all need to change and grow; to become better at loving and caring than we can now imagine. But he would learn to accept that his dressing was as much a part of him as say being an Eagles fan or liking lasagna

And while some might not like to dress up in a nice skirt and blouse, others of us like it just fine. Angela would love him enough to help him discover that, and he would eventually regain that part of himself. And they would grow as a couple; they would walk by their own shores and read books to each other and sing to each other and make their own memories while still treasuring the old ones. And someday….someday they would get married.



A New Song

"Really, Jeff, it’s okay if you want to come over." Angela was quite alright with whatever Jeff decided. He was still grieving his late wife, and was also straddling that No-man’s-land of wondering about his relationship with Angela as well.
"I don’t know…I’ll get back to you later today, okay?"


Jeff hung up the phone, feeling entirely guilty and ashamed about his relationship with Angela, despite encouragement from friends and his new counselor. Guilt and shame were the twins who visited as unwelcome guests all too frequently in the greater Philadelphia/West Chester area (and all over the world for that matter.) They force us to recall things we had forgotten. They tell us we really haven’t been forgiven for the past. And they accuse us of doing something bad or horrible when it isn’t horrible at all.

Jeff felt torn between his loyalty to his Dee, still grieving after well over a year, and his growing fondness for Angela. He was also torn by his continued need to express his other self. He needn’t have felt bad about it, as most of us may have already discovered, since Gia, as she was called, was as much a part of him as his love for children, his taste in music or his kindness, all of which were "acceptable" aspects of his personality. Gia, however, was not; at least he believed so, and he struggled with his unnecessary guilt even after assurances by Angela and his counselor to the contrary.


"Then it’s settled. I’ll order some pizza and wings and you can come over about six. Please, honey, it’s okay. Honey was the term of affection that Angela had decided was best suited for Gia... When she wanted to talk with Jeff, she simply used his name, or just talked directly to him. Gia was somewhat fragile, however, since she was struggling with emotional issues as well. She felt ashamed and entirely rejected, owing to "her" relationship with Jeff’s mother-in-law.

She had felt that her own "appearance" suddenly after Dee’s death was somehow an affront to Dee’s memory, sadly failing to remember just how much of an accepting and compassionate woman Dee was. And now, she was beginning to struggle with her feelings for Angela as well, as awkward as that was. Angela, for her part, accepted Gia entirely, understanding that she was as much a part of Jeff as any other quality she found attractive. It’s hard to explain, but someone once said that we can choose when and where and how we will love a person, but we often if not always have no say with whom we FALL in love. She loved Gia just as much as she loved Jeff, as odd as that might sound, and she wanted Gia to know she was always welcome.

"PBS is showing a repeat of ‘Foyle’s War," and I know that’s one of your favorites. Please, honey, I want you to come." Jeff needed assurances since he felt less sure about himself than ever, due to the twin assailants that beat him down on a daily basis. And his mother-in-law still blamed him for Dee’s death, feeling that if he had done a better job of taking care of her, she wouldn’t have been at the interview that day, and wouldn’t have taken the interstate….etc. She had always considered him weak, and even felt he was too…much like her daughter to marry her. Guilt hit him hard that afternoon, leaving shame to mop up later.

"GIA!" Angela interrupted, "Please be here by seven-thirty, okay?"


Angela rose and went to the door at the sound of the soft knock... She was disappointed to see Jeff standing there, not because she didn’t want to see him since she loved him, but because he had "left" Gia at home. It didn’t matter to her which of them came to visit, since she adored them both. She just knew that the twins had done their number on Jeff, and he was standing in her doorway more out of fear than choice.
"
It’s okay, Jeff, come on in. I’ll get you a beer and we can talk, okay?" She went into the kitchen and retrieved a Rolling Rock for him and a diet coke for herself before sitting on the couch next to him.


"She hasn’t been around much, and I’m beginning to worry about her," Angela said to Gina, who sat at her desk with the speaker phone on, finishing the Sunday Crossword. Gina leaned over and grabbed the handset and picked up.
"Sweetie, it’s okay. He’s going to go through what he goes through, and all you can do is be there for him. Gina was aware of Jeff’s struggles since he had given Angela permission to share with her friend, understanding that it really was too much for one person to handle...

"You’re handling it just fine, sweetie; so keep at it. We’re praying for you, and I really believe everything is going to be okay. And don’t forget, you’re first team, now, so don’t hold back. Tell him how you feel. Okay?"

"Thanks, honey, you’re a dear. I’ll keep you posted. You and Ben can come for dinner Saturday if you can." She made a point to say "Ben," keeping in mind that Jeff probably wasn’t ready to meet Katie, and she was absolutely sure Gia wasn’t either.


Jeff was seeing a new counselor that Ben had recommended. Ben felt entirely capable of helping Jeff, but his relationship with both Jeff and Angela demanded that he distance himself in that regard in order to be a good friend first. Ben provided a bridge for some of his clients to other counselors and specialists.

"There’s a lot to be said about a boy and his dress, as someone put it; most of it wrong and those that know don’t know everything"

"I don’t understand." Jeff said, saying exactly what he felt. He and Ben were sitting on back deck of Angela’s apartment, drinking coffee (problem solving, something guys do.)

"The key here is to understand that you don’t have to understand…everything. It all comes in time or not at all. What you have here, regardless, is someone who absolutely adores you. She’s said as much on more than one occasion to me and Gina, and I know she’s told you, although probably not in so many words. So what you are faced with is what to do next. The answer is there’s no right answer. She’s given you the freedom to do as you choose rather than what you feel you’re supposed to do. Does that make any sense to you?" Ben smiled and sipped his coffee, waiting patiently for a reply.

"What would you do, if it was you?" Ben smiled to himself at the irony of the question.

"The only thing I know I’d do is talk to her. Ben was in the almost same situation a few years back, and it took the love of a good woman, much like Jeff had with Angela, to get things "straightened away," as they say.)


Jeff had come over for dinner again, and while he was always welcome, Angela had become frustrated with his failure to trust that she loved every one of him, in a manner of speaking. Gia hadn’t been over for two weeks, and she was missed.

"I’m not going to demand anything, honey." Angela said. She was getting frustrated with the whole situation and hoped that wouldn’t come out in her tone, but it did.

"What do you want from me?" Jeff pled.

"That’s exactly what I want…YOU!" I don’t want who someone else thinks you should be. Hell, I don’t even want what you think you SHOULD be. I want you…exactly who you are…every bit of you, every part of you…ALL of you." By now her anger was mixed with tears as she cried.

“You…..How many times do I have to say it? I’ve waited patiently for nearly five years. I put up with GOD’s plan for your life, and He knows I’ll be sorry tomorrow for saying it, but tonight I’m tired of waiting. I knew you and Dee were made for each other. And I accepted that. It was okay, you need to know that I loved you from the day I met you, and now nothing makes a difference. Nothing; not you losing Dee; not your job; not Gia; nothing! In fact, everything makes a difference. I thought about it, and I was worried about Gia and all that, but it’s Jeff who’s making me angry. I’ve had to deal with the death of my sister, my nephew’s near death and now, when everything was just getting good, you’re not sure. Well, I am!"

She got up off the couch and walked up to him and grabbed him. She kissed him harder than most anyone can bear without bruising. She shook out of nervous tension but kissed him again, harder if that were possible. At this point, most guys would start crying, almost like a Lifetime movie, and that would be appropriate, given that Jeff was a recent widower with conflicted feelings regarding the woman who just kissed him. But Jeff didn’t cry. He kissed back, softer perhaps in deference more to the woman he loved than to the pain on his lips. He discovered later that his lip was actually bleeding, but he didn’t mind.


Rain comes over the grey hills,
And on the air, a soft goodbye.
Hear the song that I sing to you,
When the time has come to fly.

The sound of "The Soft Goodbye" from Celtic Woman played in the background. The photos had been stored in a safe place, the mementos packed away carefully with honor. The gray shimmery silk dress was all she had left of her beloved. It was deposited in the box and it eventually found its way to a deserving young lady who wore it on her first date. She found it easier to part with it when she realized her life was brand new, and as such, demanded new things and new ideas.

She picked up the dress she had bought that morning and held it up against her as she looked in the mirror. It was a nice floral print with wines and pinks and reds, and it looked great. The last remaining picture sat on the dresser across from the mirror. The woman in the picture was as pretty as ever. She noticed for the first time that she and the woman in the photo actually did resemble each other just a little bit, and that was entirely okay. Who better to resemble that the nicest person she ever knew. She smiled at herself in the mirror, and it looked for all the world that the woman in the picture smiled in approval.



Send Me a Song
words and music by
David Downes and
Caitriona Nibhubhghaill
as sung by Lisa Kelly and
Celtic Woman
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27uz7Pdy8Dw

The Soft Goodbye
words and music by
David Downes
As performed by
Celtic Woman
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDVgb4pJMdI



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