Now when I looked in the mirror, all I saw was the me that pretended your heart was still strong, the me that was trying to save you in between pretending, as you had saved me from my loveless marriage, taken me out of the boat like a refugee and gave me the home I never had in your embrace, in my reflection in your pale blue eyes.

I pretended the psychic Russian  countess had never whispered you were going to die into my ear by going everywhere and doing everything we had always done as if a dark shadow had not been cast.  I opened the curtains, trying to let in more and more light so it could blind me. We ate at Nola’s on South Street every Saturday and ordered the coconut crusted shrimp and you still fed them to me, dipping it in the sweet red sauce that lingered on our tongues.

But something was different.

We still went to the basement Jazz bar on second street in Society Hill for brunch where we sat five feet from the teeth and the throat and the sorrow of the singer who seemed to be preparing us for what was the come with her mouth taking in all of the microphone as if she was singing directly to our impending doom.

For months I lived in this strange state of Pre-Grief, a premonition I was refusing to acknowledge through alcohol and music and driving too fast and dancing too fast, and living too hard in your presence, trying to blot it out.

I was the girl who needed you -the Leo, the Lion, the purring, the curling, the way the old lion fit inside the smooth skinned young maiden as he would in any fairy tale, but this fairytale belonged to me, it was mine and it wouldn’t turn Grimm.

I was willing you to stay, but the more I loved you, the more you took steps away, not away from US exactly, but toward your world where I and your friends and your family were no longer a part of it. 

You were a lion, and like any great cat you would go off into the wilderness without anyone, because this is what cats do when they aren’t well, they separate themselves from the pride.

You refused invitations, made excuses that you were tired, began preparing yourself for departure, like the pilot studying the map for a long sky journey

I would forever be your unfinished work in progress as you prepared to go. I was asking you how you felt, looking at you with Don’t Go eyes. I said you forgot your medicine, what about acupuncture, I heard Vitamin C repairs damaged tissue.

Anyone looking in the window would see me boiling water for our coffee, handing you the dark blue mug like it was any other winter morning.

If anyone was looking in the window long enough, they would see you get up and put on the Billy Holiday record, drop the needle onto All of Me – stroll back over to me like a cowboy, hip to hip, moving to why not take all of me?They would see the premonition of sorrow in the dance.

Can’t you see I’m no good without you?

An invitation to write: Your Refusal of the Call  

  • Write about a time in your life when you didn’t want see, because you didn’t want anything to change.

For a deeper memoir  exploration through the Hero’s Journey,  take Laura’s 12-week workshop in a workbook with STORYquest, the Writer, the Hero, the Journey.