“You know what really boggles my mind?”
“The concept of this whole “beginning and ending” thing.”
“What do you mean?”
“What I mean is that the concept of beginnings and endings are all relative and when you really think about it, don’t stand up to reason.”
“For example, let’s take Little Red Riding Hood. The story begins with Little Red Riding Hood being told to stay on the path and don’t stray, and ends with the wolf plan’s being foiled. Yet, what led us to that point? What came after?”
“I guess another story?”
“Exactly! Little Red Riding Hood lived a life before the famous story, and, hopefully, long after. These concepts of start and finish are bookmarks we have artificially created to tell a specific tale.”
“All that seems like common sense though? Of course there is a start and finish. Things begin and then things end. Everyone knows that.”
“Of course they do, it’s easy to apply those labels to a story that is broken down for you by the bindings of some hardcover or the tolerance of some bard. What I’m really trying to get at is the concept of life and death and our perception of loss and sorrow.”
“John…I’m not ready to talk about this.”
“Sam…It’s been three long years and I can count the amount of times I’ve seen you in that time on one hand. You are my brother and my best friend. I won’t give up on you and I want to help you.”
“I’ve tried. I’ve done all I can and nothing will ease the pain. I’ve seen psychiatrists, talked to our family, and so much more and I keep getting taken back to that one moment…”
“Sam. That’s the problem.”
“You are trying to forget and move on. However, there is no way you will ever recover from the love of your life passing away.”
“Are you fucking kidding me? What kind of game are you playing!?”
“No game. All I’m trying to do is…”
“I don’t need this shit. Fuck you and Fuck this. I’m out of here.”
What fucking nerve? Are you kidding me?
Who does John think he is coming in here and talking to me about Little Red Riding Hood and wanting to make my life better? What has he ever lost in his life? How much pain could be earned from living off our parent’s money and smoking the days away?
I’ve been doing so well too.
I leave the café and begin walking the same walk Claire and I used to walk before…well…
For the first time in…I can’t even remember…I think about before the accident. Before the phone call at 4:23am. Before all the sirens and questioning looks and the flat line of my wife’s now still heart.
I see her face. I see her smiling beautiful face with her eyes that are slightly offset. I see her infamous top bun that she was so damn proud of. I look back to our engagement, the moment I knew my life was complete. I begin to look beyond the circumstances that shattered my very existence and begin to see the larger story.
Damn, John, how did you do that?
I was too blinded by rage to see what he was getting at. Life isn’t defined by a single story but an entire library. For these past three years, I’ve been reading the same book over and over again and have been missing out on all this world has to offer.
I know what I need to do now.
“I want to apologize for before. I was completely out of line and couldn’t see that you were just trying to help me.”
“You have nothing to apologize for. I just care so much about you and hate seeing you like this. I’m just trying any and every angle I can.”
“Our lives were so amazing together and there are so many incredible moments that will last with me forever. My life isn’t defined by her death, it’s just one story. It doesn’t end here.”
“All I’ve been seeing is her dying over and over again. It’s not a way to live. I’ve always assumed that was the end of her, but the truth is that she is always with me. From a walk we used to take in the park, to the dairy aisle where she was the sole suspect in the murder of 30-some milk jugs, her memories transcend her…her…”
“They transcend all of us. Claire is not gone, she is all around us. Though we see death as an end, it is only another point in this crazy journey we are all taking. One that never truly ends. These stories of our lives are what WE make of them. They are not defined by simple boundaries but by ourselves. That’s all I was trying to get you to see. She may have passed on, but she is never gone, and her story never ends.”
I look at him in silence, fully grasping what his words mean.
Her story is now my story.
While her body couldn’t withstand the stress of a drugged out teenager behind a wheel, her soul always will.
Her beautiful soul touched so many in this world and we all will take the torch to keep her fire alive.
I will never move on from this or forget about her. She is, and forever will be, everything that I am and strive to be. She is my inspiration and the reason I wake every morning. There is no reason that should have ever changed.
We are conditioned to believe that everything must start and stop, live and die, begin and end, but the truth is a much more wonderful thing.
Time is relative and the constraints we place on ourselves arbitrary.
We are the masters of our tale, and Claire, for me, the words.