Two weeks is a long time. I've never spent so much time away from Richard since he left me after the third grade for the North Star Elementary late shift. Apparently, there were too many students in our school, so we were divided into "morning shift" and "late shift."
I think back now after chasing behind the school bus while watching my breath through the cold winter air and screaming "Wait! Wait!" that the school should have done a better job picking shifts. If I were admin. I would have done it differently. I would have looked at morning tardies, and stuck all the students with the highest number of tardies in the late shift....obviously, we have trouble getting out of bed in the morning; and the rest of the students would have been put in the morning shift. No such luck. In hindsight, maybe they wanted to punish us for being late.
And so, on days I missed the school bus for lack of not running fast enough to get the driver's attention while I could hear the door squeak to a close, I reluctantly trudged up the long icy hill, often times taking two steps up and sliding three steps back, until I caught a branch just strong enough to hold me to make it past the ice to a patch of dirt, and to the top of the hill. Years later someone got smart....they put steps in.
But after that year, when we were split into early and late shifts, it truly was all downhill with my intense love for Richard. In third grade, you don't have to talk, you just know you love each other. But he moved away, I moved away, and when we finally moved back we passed each other in the halls of West Anchorage High School (the best school like eveeeerrr) with a wave and a grin. The most we ever said was "Hi." As the story goes we serendipitously found each other five wonderful years ago, and to this day he still only says "Hi." I do all the talking. We have a wonderful relationship.
Two weeks ago my Richard, or "Rick" as known to most of his friends, had to make an unexpected trip to Alaska to visit his mother. His mother had taken a fall and ended up in the hospital. Somehow, during that time, she also got a sudden onset of dementia. We are still trying to understand what happened. To Richard's heartache, in two weeks he had to move his mother into an assisted living facility, find someone to take her three cats, and clean out part of the condo which she owned and knew as home for over 15 years. This is tragic and devastating, especially since Richard is the only child and he already lost his father to cancer his senior year of high school.
For those of you that don't know, Dorothy and her late husband Royal adopted Richard when he was but a one and a half year old wild child crawling unsupervised through the streets of San Luis Obispo with a sign around his neck that said "Hi I'm Ricky, Feed Me." Dorothy, finding Rick irresistible and being a woman of strong will said "I'm adopting that child!" And the story of Rick's life and the unconditional love of his parents began.
But then at eight years of age he set his sights on me from across a crowded classroom, and well, you know the rest of the story.
In five years, I've never been away from Richard for more than one week. Even though we don't live together we are together constantly, if only on the phone, and yet, when he flies 3,000 miles away, I feel empty.
I should have been there with him to hold his hand through his pain of losing his mother to not quite death, but something almost as painful, with Dorothy scratching her head in confusion as to not being able to quite place her "Rick" and Richard trying to cope with the inevitable pain of slowly losing our parents to old age. I should have been there to console him, and carry his burden, but I wasn't. As life would have it, bronchitis, doctor visits, and chemotherapy got in the way.
As the story goes, we are born, we live, and we die. But I see so much more. I see two parents who wanted enough on a wing and a prayer to adopt a little boy that they fell in love with at first site. And they did. I see a little boy that loved his parents so strongly that he would fly to Alaska at the drop of a hat, to rub his mother's head and hold her hand during her elderly years. I see a third grade boy that had me with the first tug of my long hair and owns my heart now with every bit of passion inside me.
A few days ago I said "You know what Richard? This is it." He said "This is what?" I said "We are growing old together. We're really doing it. Isn't it wonderful?"
And this thing called "life" is so much greater than the name we give it.
Sweet Dreams And Always GOOD Dreams,