Saturday, 30 July 2016

In love for the last time

Before we'd even got together, you made us a shared dropbox. I liked the way our names sat next to each other on it, like guests at a wedding feast. First you shared photos of our days out but then you started adding music to it, trawling your extensive collection for songs and albums that you thought I might like. And I did always like what you put in there: music, like surprise parcels, waiting to be opened.

The first album I discovered this way was Love for the Last Time by Experimental Aircraft. I listened to the first track, Symphony, over and over again, carried away on the melody, in sync with the lyrics, listening out for a message in the words, a hint at your intentions. Maybe it was there and maybe it wasn't but the words haunt me now. I told you that I loved the song and you agreed that you loved it too. I think we loved it for the same reasons; we shared more than a dropbox, even in the early days.

We'd both had a fair few relationships. You were a late starter so you'd had less than me but probably still more than you would have wished to have. Even when you were younger, you didn't realise how attractive you were. At your funeral women from your past told me how they had waited, hoping for you to notice them but somehow you didn't notice them, noticing you. You lacked confidence and took rejection badly, found it hard to take the chance, but you told me that you had never given up hope that one day you might meet someone special. I know that you felt I was the someone you'd been waiting for. I'd never given up hope either but I was as scared as you were. We were a couple of old romantics who had learned the hard way that love doesn't always end with a happy ever after. When you get to our age, you become tired of endings, wary of new beginnings. Why even start something if it's just going to end? We wanted to be in love for the last time, the kind of lasting love, we could not seem to find.

The other day I was driving in the countryside to meet a friend for a walk. I went the wrong way and  almost reversed into a river as I tried to turn round. It is par for the course these days. I am not safe. When I'd rescued myself from the brink and we were walking, I found myself reflecting on my own death. 'Who would give my eulogy?' I asked my friend. I am the Queen of Eulogies. I did my grandma's, Dad's, Mum's, yours. I know how to make a funeral really special. I am so good at it that I have considered making a career out of saying goodbye. But I felt a sudden new kind of desolation (who knew there could be so many?) that, if I died, I would be no-one's love. There would be no red roses on my coffin and you would not be there to mourn me, the way that I mourned you.

'He would still be your love though,' said a friend and, of course, she is right. Our love did exist. We might not have been married but we were together, at least until we were parted by your death. Other relationships had gone wrong but ours never did. This time we did not fail. This time, we took a chance on love and we flew. You were in love for the last time and, though you weren't wrapped in my arms when you went, you were wrapped in my love. Everyone who came to the funeral knew it, it was written in the local paper and now I write it for all the world to see: Blacksmith Paul, died 10th March 2016, beloved soulmate of Beverley. I don't know if it will be the last time that I will be in love but I am glad that, in some small and tragic way, you got what you wanted: a pure love, unbroken, that will last for all eternity.

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