Back in April 2007, I answered a phone call that lead to my life being changed for ever....the repercussions of that are still being felt, even now.
In 1981 I was in my late teens, and starting a new job at a local well-known factory. I was your typical office worker; not particularly well-off, doing my best to dress in a conventionally suitable office manner...heels, pencil skirts, that sort of thing. I met up with a young man who attracted me straight away – he had long hair. And I mean LONG. Mine was coiffured into a neat bob....we looked like polar opposites. We became great friends, we had a similar daft sense of humour, and when I left the factory some years later, we stayed in contact. Eventually we drifted apart, my working life took me out of the area, we had less time to meet up, our lives went in separate directions. I never forgot him, though.
Fast forward to April 2007. I was still reeling from the shock of my husband’s sudden death, I was at home (by this time I wasn’t working), and wondering what to do next. When I answered the phone, a familiar voice said hello, and asked if I remembered who he was. I replied that I knew the voice but couldn’t place a name.
It was Dylan, my friend from so many years ago. A mutual friend had told him my sad news the day after it happened, and he wanted to know how I was now the funeral was over, and everyone had presumably gone back to their own lives. I can’t remember much about that conversation now, other than I was in my usual fairly upbeat mood, and sounding quite positive. We exchanged email addresses and over the next few weeks we started a very occasional correspondence. I have to admit I wasn’t the best of correspondents; quite often I didn’t have much to say, and by the summer of 2007 I was beginning to struggle with the realisation that widowhood doesn’t suddenly come to an end, it goes on and the absent partner actually doesn’t come back.
One sunny afternoon I was sitting outside with next door’s cat, a beer and a King Edward, and thought I should mail Dylan; I had had a mail from him some time ago and hadn’t replied. I went to fetch my laptop, switched it on....and there it was, a mail from him. How spooky! I mailed him back and wrote: “Just had a wee thoughtette – what about meeting up for a pint and a chat?” I just thought it would be nice to talk face to face, instead of by mail (which I was still struggling with).
So, eventually, on 16th August 2007, I took my knitting machine to Nantwich for a service and repair, then drove over to a pub near Dylan’s place of work. I was late, but thankfully he was still there, waiting for me on the car park. The long hair was gone; cropped all over; (in fact, it was me who had the long locks by this time)... he looked sadder and much less ebullient than he used to do, but he had a huge grin on his face when he saw me.
We collided with each other in a huge hug; then went inside for a drink and a chat. It was great to see him! We talked and talked, like the intervening years hadn’t been all that long really...I remember him telling me about his friend who has a shop selling ethnic stuff coming back from Thailand or somewhere with a three foot long phallus....no, things hadn’t changed all that much, had they...but something was changing for me...I sat talking to him and looking at his forearms and felt some long-buried emotions coming slowly to the surface; I fancied him. Certainly never expected to feel like that again.
We went back to our cars, having made him late back at work; he took a couple of photos of us with his camera on a self timer; we had a last hug, then left. I remember driving home feeling lighter and happier than I had in a long time.
I switched on my email when I got in, and there it was, from Dylan, just a short mail:
“You are bloody gorgeous”.
into the bewildering storm of grief
True love walked in, and held me safe
Then blew my world apart with undreamed of delights
A true meeting of minds, bodies, hearts.
Home at last, held fast in arms of love.
Face to face, and soul to soul
love saw boundaries and soared over them
Unconfined, free, it found strange wings and flew
Not thinking, or caring, where it would land.
my love took me wandering
over rocky crags, where I saw God;
through leafy green lanes
down into mossy green dales
In cathedrals made by man
In loftier ones, formed by the Creator.
but love proved weak, did not keep faith
Fear drove it back to a place of safety
a place that was not there
A place where love was not to be found
Only a leaning dependence, an unwillingness to let go.
Love finally left me here alone
With bitter memories of betrayal and pain
With loving memories of a meeting of hearts.
Past griefs healed over; by new griefs, replaced
Tearing open a heart that only wanted to love
And be loved, in return.
Now my love is scattered on the breeze that blows
over the crags, and onwards to the moors
No trace left of him that felt those strong impulses
No trace of his physicality
All that remains is love itself, pure and true.