We sit together near the wall of windows that overlooks a life-size standing terracotta Buddha at the foot of a pristine pine staircase which begins at French doors filled with light and mesmerizing prisms producing magical rainbows all over the walls and across our faces.
The stream behind the statue has rocks scattered all across the shallow surface and there's a diminutive whirlpool effect created by the random placement of rocks, and I can observe from the well-worn well-loved leather couch, clockwise and counterclockwise infinite circles and the music the stream makes casts a spell of serenity and she speaks.
'How has your week been?' We skipped a week, so it's been two but I know the rote, let's get business out of the way, so, as she says, we can work together and have fun. So I tell her about my dad putting down my favorite top and my telling him that I wished he were as generous with his compliments as he was with his insults and his telling me to get off my high-horse, y'know, our usual schtick. I can't ask him to change behavior that's been routed through his neural pathways for the past 70 years but I can control how I respond and I'm human AND my father's daughter so I do make the occasional potshot and zinger. I've been conditioned too, it's part of my wiring as well.
She rolls her eyes. I can't fool her. Which is good. I'd been told I'd have to find a therapist I couldn't outsmart and it'd be a bitch to find one but I found her and now we've become more than doctor/patient. We giggle and conspire like little girls and she often says, 'Oh we're not getting any work done AGAIN, Elaine' and I nearly always forget to give her my copay although I never fail to remember that she's made a big sacrifice for me by taking less than half her usual fee so we won't lose each other. I tell her that I don't want to lose her because of money and she says, 'Sweetie, you won't.'
I believe her. I don't know why. Everyone who promises me they will stay leaves so why should I trust her, even when those who said they wouldn't leave either, did and yet I still do.
I think of a prayer I wrote down about being open and choosing to remain vulnerable after suffering and how forgiveness has so much power and she smiles and asks me what I'm thinking of at that moment.
I tell her that he's dead to me, yet....I still pray for him. He viciously injured me, yet I have so much gratitude that he took care of me when I was sick and he loves and cares for Nacho who I ache for and I know Wonton misses...still. She still recognizes his name when I mention it and she cries when I leave because she thinks I'm leaving her forever and my grandmother spends twenty minutes consoling and cajoling and she lets her great-nana be a surrogate til Mama gets home and I think, I left them. I left him and I left Nacho and my heart breaks because I love the cat more than the man and how did it get to this point?
When she and I first began to talk, I was so heartsick because it wasn't just abuse that I was dealing with, but incredible guilt that I could have done more couldn't I have, although she assured me I did so much more than 'more' and I cry so hard over Spooky Oats snatching his friendship away that she gets on her knees and wraps her arms around me and says let it out let it out and the grief is so suffocating that I can't make a sound so we rock until I hiccup and she excuses herself to get me a glass of water and I wipe my face with a tissue from one of the twenty ever present boxes of Kleenex and I think of all the people who have baptized this couch with their sorrow and how many she's consoled, and held on to and helped them in their recovery, some beginning to feel for the first time in years and sobbing in the waiting room in anticipation of the safe place with a spectrum of color and light dancing across the walls and the sound of the water burbling as if to say, 'It's okay, it's okay, it's okay to cry, baby. You're safe. You're loved. You're worth it all.'
I tell her that he did love me at first. I remember moments more and more as time passes by and the daze of fear and dread turns to clarity. He will never be blessed with my presence again. He's been banned from the garden of my love forever and angels do stand at the gates, forbidding entrance. Of this I know within my deepest heart.
I remember the moment when we were talking in bed and he looked up at me and gasped and I whispered, 'What's wrong, Baby?' and his eyes filled with tears and he choked and said, 'You're so beautiful in the moonlight.' and how it took me by surprise and nothing ever took me by surprise and I loved those rare good good precious unforgettable surprises like, 'I'm coming to see YOU, Silly,' and 'I couldn't stay away from you no matter how much I tried', and, 'I couldn't sleep all night, thinking of you, please....' and taking my hand and asking me to trust once again. And I did and I did and I did and every time I did my heart broke yet I did it again and again because of hope and forgiveness and faith and that love that surpasses understanding.....all logic and reason goes out the window.....with the moonlight and the music that lulls and soars in my soul takes over.
I would look up from a book, or a bubbling pot, or my laptop and find him studying me with a silly smile playing across his lips, lips that I begged to kiss tenderly I remember now and wonder if the joy will ever be separate from the sorrow and undiluted and as light and effortless as a handful of feathers drifting through the air, and more precious than a pound of glittering gold. Not with him, but with another. He was not The One. He knew it himself. He always knew it even before I did. He knew he could never be enough and that I was a force he couldn't even begin to comprehend so he didn't want to try and instead withdrew, disappeared and became a ghost. All I had to talk to were mirrors and cats that would pile up on me and purr melodies almost by design as if to sooth my aching heart and overwhelming loneliness. My marriage was dead but there had been life, so I grieved long after the love was gone.
And upon finding my voice again, I lost another, with no reason, no warning and I wondered about cosmic jokes and karmic agreements made when souls were birthed, how could we know what we were agreeing to? How could we say, 'I will' or 'Never' or 'No matter what' when there is no guarantee of anything no matter the intent, no matter the consequence and I sit here with eyes filled with tears and with light and she says, 'Your eyes sparkle, did anyone ever tell you that?' and I say, 'Yes. But oh what a price I've paid for it.' and sigh.