Just as he promised…


I know I have been missing in action of late and I do apologize, but working full time and going to school has taken all my energies  and so I have given due diligence to those things that have an air of immediacy.

Finals finished…let’s move forward.

In the last message from Charley there was a reference about a ship in the bottle and then something about setting sail. R told me that it was specific to me- that I would understand. She said he presented with his ship in the bottle and that suddenly the waves inside began to swell and overtake the tiny vessel. That piece by piece the mast and bridge of the ship began to break apart and in one fell swoop, the ship was dashed upon the sides- the glass broke open and he was drowning.

Then the connection was made and the ship began to repair itself.

Slowly but surely the mast was returned to its original stature and station. The bridge and rigging regained their place of honor and the glass sealed about its craft and the water rose within the confines of its transparent margins, but no longer threatened.

R told he wanted me to understand the impression- setting sail- sailing away… and I knew what he meant, but was very frightened that this was his way of saying goodbye.  R assured me it was meant for me- as in, “set your sails- now you can sail off into another adventure…” that it meant something wonderful. Tearful at the other end of the phone, I acknowledged the metaphor and did my best to expel a quivering lip, not ready to let him go. She cautioned that I would understand, saying- ‘you know how this works.’ And to be certain I do, but as happy as it made me to think that Charley was now ready to set a new course for his sails…I was overcome with a wave of longing for the days when he used to appear in desperate measures and need my help.

Like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ standing on the platform, with air balloon and passage home waiting… she tugs at the tufts of curls that brandish the chest and shoulders of the Cowardly Lion and says, “I’m gonna miss the way you used to whimper and wail for help” and then kisses the cheek of the noble beast now boasting courage of his own. And that’s the way it felt…like one more letting go in my life- another tear in my heart- another loss.

For a day I wandered mentally about the memories of our journey and tried to be happy for my dear friend. To know that he was finally on his way to where and when he should have been 45 years before and I was sincere in my desire to see his sails swing wide with wind and determination. Still, a part of me wanted to board that ship and go with him so as not to break the bond. (Not in the narcissistic ways of death- simply in the sense of spiritual pursuits.) As he and Hazel left R’s vision-hand in hand and all together… a piece of my heart went with them. I comforted myself that Charley wanted me to set my sails too- that he was freeing me for some great next adventure, but the perceived loss of his heart as my ballast left me without even keel and I tottered for a day or two until…

Two days hence his message, I left my house and began my long ride to work. Annoyed with the same agitating excuse for music as bests our air waves these days, I popped in a CD of old 70’s music- (my glory days) and began to ease into my day. As the sun broke the horizon and the light fell softly on crisp pastures and brittle fences I finally understood the message, as it was delivered in typical Charley style…

Song # 8 on my CD was an old favorite, redone in recent history by Brooks and Dun- a song called “My Maria,” written by Daniel Moore and B. W. Stevenson. As I was singing along, canting the words by route… it suddenly hit me.

I had been listening to this CD, along with various CD selections of Amy Grant, James Taylor and Earth, Wind and Fire the week before and had sung those songs and this song a hundred times in the rotation of my collection on the long rides home; but with my brain focused on finals and work projects I forgot to listen to the words I was singing. But there with brilliant sunrise, hot coffee, Mustang in the wind and a lighter heart I heard the words coming out of my mouth- laughed and then repeated the song another seven times just to hear his message and smile knowing…my Charley had not left me as I supposed. That his message was not meant as goodbye, but thank you.

We are forever…. just as he promised.

“My Maria…

Don’t you know I’ve come a long, long way

I’ve been longin’ to see her, she takes my blues away

Sweet Maria…

The sun light surely hurts my eyes

I’m a lonely dreamer on the highway in the skies

My Maria…

There were some blue and sorrow times

Just my thoughts about you bring back my piece of mind

Gypsy lady…

You’re a miracle work for me

You set my soul free like a ship sailing on the sea…”

It is not just his soul that has been set free- it has been mine as well.

With love…

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