There are no more Condolences.
No inquiries of “how are you holding up?” anymore. It is expected that I have made my peace and my moving forward is in progression.
Friends are ready for me to “get back out there!” “get your feet wet!” (among other things). Condolences no longer come, they are used to placate fresh pain, these old wounds do not dictate the delicate tip toe across the feathered bed of uncertainty that most people feel when they are put into close proximity with a grieving soul.
Things should be better now.
Look at her, she laughs. She jokes. No one looks at her with pity in their eyes. No more “poor girl.” She doesn’t shirk at the possibility of going out with someone. She’s going out and socializing; so she’s okay. Finally she’s over that whole hideous time in her life.
She should be done grieving.
According to the tenets of what I believe, remnants of death are not to linger on my heart and it is not permissible to lay flowers or build shrines to misery. I am thankful for this guidance, otherwise I would have stopped breathing, I would have stopped living, I would have simply stopped.
I am going. I am.
But there are very vivid times when I can not help but revisit parts of him.
These visits aren’t all tear crushing moments, lately the laughter we shared comes at me in short bursts. Yesterday at work the song “Whatever You Like” by TI came on my Spotify feed. I hadn’t heard the song in years and as I was bobbing my head to the beat I heard, quite vividly, his voice over the lyrics singing:
“Yeah, I want’cho body, I need yo body
Long as you got me you won’t need nobody
You want it I got it, go, get it, I buy it
Tell ’em other broke jokers be quiet”
This was one of his favorite songs to sing to me. He lived the words TI sang. I could have whatever I wanted. He took care of my needs, love, sex, security, money, bills, food, clothes, cars – whatever I wanted. He knew that there weren’t many men who could do for me what he did. He loved that.
Because he built a reputation as a rough neck Charles had great difficulty saying what was on his heart so he spoke to me through song. I remember when he came to my apartment with what would become our first CD talk.
I was living in Eaglescrest in Harrisburg. Predictably, even though we weren’t living together, every night after work you pulled up in your car and breezed through my front door. Your tall beautiful body strolled across the living room floor, calling out my name “SoKeeeeey.” I loved the way you walked, long legs striding with confidence, arms in a relaxed swing, you owned a room when you entered it. On this night you walked straight into the kitchen where I heard you lifting pots and I knew you were smelling and dipping into my cooking. I was in my bedroom sitting cross-legged on my bed tapping away at the keys on my laptop. I put aside my work and got up to fix you something to eat. You used to love it when I served you, the way I bent to place the plate in front of you, the way I poured your drink while you sat there looking at me, you’d sit in your chair and caress my back always allowing your hands to slide to my ass. That’s where your hand would linger then you’d tap it and grin to yourself. Every time. You never wearied of your private joke. When you were done with your meal you walked up behind me, took me by the waist, put you mouth on my neck and said “come here, I want you to hear something.” You guided me into my bedroom, sat me down on my bed and started unwrapping a CD.
At the time you were going through some difficult times. You didn’t know how you were going to get through a situation you had gotten yourself into. I supported you in the only way I knew how. Giving you a place to escape to. Feeding you. Loving on you.
When you initially explained your circumstance to me I had a hard time trying to wrap my head around the trouble you were in. I remember thinking that you and I were not going to make it, my decision was based, not on the fact that I didn’t love you because I loved you from the moment I saw you; it was my sense of what society said a woman in my position should do that I felt might make me walk away from you. When you told me what you were facing and why, I looked into your eyes, saw the truth in you and decided to stay.
You put the CD into the player.
I remember sitting on the side of my bed with you sliding to the floor in front of me, sitting facing the CD player, with your back to me, you leaned back positioning yourself between my legs, rested your arms on my thighs laying the back of your head against my pelvic bone as I began our nightly ritual of parting your naturally soft, black curly thick hair into small sections and gently scratching your scalp with a plastic comb.
You picked up the remote, hit play, closed your eyes and said “just listen.”
“It’s your voice, in my ear, it’s your perfume in the air, it’s your smile and your laugh, it’s the greatest feeling that I’ve ever had, I’m into you girl, I get more confident each time you call my name, I’m into you girl, I guess I must admit I’m finally tuned in, I’m into you girl.” – (KEM, I’m Into You, Kem II)
The soft, strong, romantic, sexy voice of KEM came slicing from the CD player cutting into my heart.
“…every move that you make, tastes like candy to my brain, and I’m so in love with you and I’m hoping you love me too, and I’m having such a lovely time, I get so excited girl you blow my mind…”
I sat there feeling the nervousness of love blooming in my heart, the trepidation of constructed walls tumbling down, the opening of my soul accepting you for who you were, for what you gave me, for us. Our story had been written and rewritten by a span of time, by broken promises, deceit, retreat, by childish games of young people playing house to the maturity of apologies, forgiveness and two adults who couldn’t stop being together if they tried. These thoughts were flooding to the surface when you said “this next track is us SoKey, it’s me…”
“I think about the day I met, the perfect stranger, I think about us, and I think about the day, I got wrapped around your finger, I think about us…” (KEM, I Can’t Stop Loving You, KEM II)
There were tears in my eyes now, but you couldn’t see them.
“…and I can’t stop loving you, I can’t help myself, and I can’t get over you, no matter what I tell myself, baby.”
You were so quiet, sitting there playing with my feet, massaging them to the sound of KEM singing to me. But I knew you were speaking. There was a conversation passing between us without a word to be uttered. We sat. KEM serenaded “…I think about us, I think about us, I think about us, I can’t get over you…”
You spoke again, my soft-hearted rough neck. “I feel like he made this CD for us.”
“Where would I be without you?” KEM sang “Where would I go to let it all out? Where would I be? Without you? Without you babe?”
You began talking now. A rush of pent-up words you had been looking for the courage to allow to the surface. You told me how you felt lost when I wasn’t there with you, when I wasn’t there for you. You called me your friend. Your lover. You told me why you took great strides to keep me separated from all the other things in your life.
“Where would I be without you girl, Where would I be without you, where would I go to let it all out…”
I was your safe place. The one place in this world untouched, unstained, untarnished by your former decisions. You loved me. You needed me. You told me that my love, that someone like me, who loved you so openly, someone like me loving you, let you know you were worthy of everything you were trying to accomplish. You’d been living in the dark for so long that my light shamed you. You told me you were afraid of losing me.
When KEM asked me if I was strong enough to let love set me free, you turned to me, put your head in my lap and I held you while we listened to KEM playing on repeat.
Kissing you was always my favorite contact sport; but these kisses from this night were different. The music joined us in a ménage a trois of meaning. We made real and sustaining love. My only job was to make you forget everything this life threw at you and my only weapon in this fight was my body. I was always a warrior for you. Afterwards I was no longer puzzled by the way you held me post love-making, the way you would wrap your body across mine like you were afraid I’d escape into the night, you nuzzled your nose into my neck and inhale deeply, your arms and legs engulfed my body you’d fall asleep feeling satisfied that I was locked down for the night.
I understood now, you felt secure when you were with me.
“…you’re my weakness, you changed my world, share my life, trust in me, you’re all I want, everything I need…”
Some people tell me to move on and to know that I will never have another love like the one I shared with Charles; but I don’t believe this to be the case. I wholeheartedly believe that I will find something equally compelling; possibly stronger because I am open to it.
I expect nothing less and I will cultivate love and push it to its fullest possibilities.
So I don’t need to be asked “how are you holding up” anymore. I have made my peace with my past and moving forward is in progression.
These moments I’ve shared are just memories. They are told for my purpose of moving forward, or more pointedly so you understand the pace with which I move forward. I don’t covet these memories, they are simply here in this space where I reside. I am, unfortunately, still a slave to the painstaking healing process. It’s not that I cling to memories like the one I’ve described here today, it’s that I have these memories.
I make it to movies, dinner, attend events. I hold conversations and even flirt, I just haven’t found my chemical x yet. I will eventually build with a new man but for now I will be selective with who I choose to share my time, let alone my life.
I understand chemistry between two people isn’t always instantaneous, sometimes it takes a few try’s to find the right mixture.
The important thing is that I’m willing to get back into the lab and experiment. I am going. I am.
For more on my story visit HealTHY Heart.