One of my clients-turned-friend spent the majority of June in Paris, which as you probably know by now is one of the cities in the world that I have been priviledged to call home and which I miss quite a bit. It is also the city where My Frenchman lived.
I asked her before she went if, while she was there, she would go to the grassy park in front of Invalides and just say “hi” for me. I lived right around the corner from there and spent a great deal of time lounging on the grass there with My Frenchman. She promised she would. So I have been in a Paris frame of mind lately. Yesterday was the first time I have seen this friend since her return. She brought her digital camera and I spent a good half an hour flipping through the pictures and going back in time. There was Shakespeare and Co, a bookshop I used to spend the night at ( weird I know, but the owner often let fellow ex-pats stay)!. There was the art kiosks by the Seine, there was the Tuilleries, which I walked through on many many mornings…and there, right at the end, was the grassy lawn in front of Invalides. In an instant I was 19 again and young and fresh and spectacularly in love with a God of a Frenchman, sitting on the grass smoking a cigarette and feeling beautiful and immortal. I felt the tears spring to my eyes. It was an unexpected and bittersweet emotional journey, sitting there in the barn looking at her little camera.
He died 3 years ago this last June. He was in his 40s. It seems impossible that someone so young, so beautiful and so alive could not exist here any more. And it seems strange that it should hurt so much after not having seen him for 20 years. But it does.
So I’ve been thinking about him a lot, and of course all the self doubt and insecurities come over me. Is all of this, everything that has been happening to me, all just a reaction to the grief of his passing and all that he stood for ( my lost youth? my innocence? the last time in my life I was without responsibility for anyone other than myself and a cat? the feeling of being in love for the 1st time?). Is it an outlet for an overly imaginative mind to cope with his loss? Has he REALLY been here with me all this time, or am I deluding myself? Am I so desperate to believe he cared for me as strongly as I for him that I am inventing all of it? I know I am not the only woman he cared for. He was married at the time of his passing ( someone who bore a very striking resemblance to me, by the way), and his now-defunct facebook page carried comments after his passing from numerous other women all bemoaning the loss of their time together. I was not his one and only, thats for sure. But neither was he mine. Does that matter when it comes right down to it all? Is love any less love for being not an isolated event? Can some loves be more special than most even after so many years? Can some affect an entire lifetime and cause a spirit to go in search of that shared heart after death? Can it be so strong that a living heart would cross into the Veil to find it? I know for sure that my love for him went in large part towards my becoming the person I am and it is still strongly active in creating me today. All I have to do is look at this blog to know that. But was my presence in his life as important? When I look at the pictures I have of us together in every one we were smished up together like we wanted-needed- to be as close as possible, or at the very least looking not at the camera but at each other. There are no pictures of us where we are not. Not one. It seems impossible that a mere two months together can change a person forever. But it did me, so why not him too? The last time I saw him I walked away down a cobbled Paris street and turned back to see him standing where I had left him, watching me walk out of his life forever. It was one of the most romantic moments of my life, like a Bogart/Bergman film. I can see it as clearly now as then, his face full of regret, the corner of the building behind him, the dappeled February Paris light. I even remember what I was wearing and that I had just cut my bangs. Did he recall that moment as clearly as I did all through the rest of his life? Was his promise to me back then to always be there if I needed him just a cliched line? Or is he keeping that promise for real, even after his death?
It seems I go through these periods of intense doubt about what my purpose here is and why these things have been happening and even if they really HAVE been happening at all…then something comes along to clarify and reaffirm the strength of my belief again. At least for a little while. Its a vicious circle, really, and I am on the downward swing of it at the moment, I suppose. It’ll get better just as soon as another event occurs and I have that proof my oh-so-human mind is always belittling my heart about.
But oh…how I wish I could see his face again. Just once. On this side of the Veil, please.
How it hurts to know I never will.