Gone But Never Forgotten

I felt cold, icy fingers pressing on my shoulders. It was like a cold shawl dipped in ice that had draped itself along my shoulder blades and the coolness thrust through my body like a cold-stone sword. It wasn’t pain I felt. It was more of a whisper of frost whisking its way around my body.

I opened my eyes and saw that I was all alone. No one was there. I cried. He was gone and wasn’t coming back. My beloved Pete was gone from me. He died in a tragic car accident. I was alone now—all alone.

I was awake and the dawning sun was peering through my window curtains and peeking around the shades. I had learned to hate the sun. Since he left me sunlight was always a reminder that I shouldn’t be sad. It was a reminder to go out and enjoy life and yet it was the last thing I wanted to do.

I punched my hand into the mattress and felt the coils spring back into my fingers. It hurt for a moment. That hurt I felt made me realize that I was still alive and had to move forward. I couldn’t curl up under the covers, cry, hide and wait for him to come back to me because he wasn’t going to.

I forced myself to do three simple things everyday since he died: take a shower, brush my teeth and get dressed. Doing these things took effort. The sadness I felt inside was like a brick pulling at my heart and the tears that would pool up in my eyes would make me panic uncontrollably. I still had to move on. I still had to punch the mattress and keep going.

After dressing myself in my dark denim jeans, high-heeled black boots and grey sweater, I wandered downstairs to look outside. It was fall now and the maple trees shone with their glossy orange, yellow and red leaves. Beauty no camera could ever capture. Autumn is a fleeting season. There are only a few short days that are truly crisp and sunny with fresh autumn air.

I made myself some oatmeal with almond milk and berries for breakfast. I paid some bills. I checked my Facebook page. Then I went outside to the garage. I looked at 2 cars staring back at me. One was Pete’s car and the other was mine. I decided to take my car that day which was a simple, white, speedy Toyota Corolla. After backing the car down the driveway and putting it in reverse, I decided to just drive somewhere. I didn’t know where I was going. I just drove. I wound up at my favorite place we used to go: Indiana Dunes. It was where we had our second date. It was also a beautiful place to enjoy the fresh, autumn day.

I took my boots off and rolled my pant-legs up and started to walk through the sand letting it squish and squash in between my toes. I let the water of Lake Michigan wash up my legs and splash backwards and repeat. The water wrapped itself around my feet in a complete circle, like it was giving me a hug and then it was gone so quickly. It was like my life with Pete. After eight years together and nearly 6 months of marriage, it was all gone like that.

I put my head down into the wind, slouched my shoulders and shoved my hands in my pocket as I felt the breeze off the lake roll around my body. I sauntered on down the lakeshore with no purpose. Tears came rolling down my cheek. The wind rustled my long, golden curls which got stuck in the tears that streamed down my face. As I wiped my hair out of my eyes, I stopped suddenly and looked up. I’d nearly tripped over someone’s feet.

“I’m so sorry sir,” I said as I continued to apologize profusely. I’d nearly run over an old, weathered-looking man who I’d seen here but had never talked too. Pete and I had seen him there often. Pete and I had never made the time to stop and talk to him. He spoke to me softly and gently, “Why are you alone today beautiful woman?” he asked. I told him my spouse had passed on. He spoke to me one more time before moving on saying, “You must not cry over what you’ve lost young one but of what you didn’t have.”

Suddenly I a three sharp taps on my shoulder rousing me from my sleep. “Sara, Sara, wake up—you’ll be late for work,” said the voice. With teary eyes I looked up and saw Pete looking back at me wearing his lavender shirt and black pants and radiant smile. I hugged him quickly. I woke up immediately.

The dream I’d had reminded me how short life is and how, when I do lose Pete, I can’t cry over what we didn’t have but remember the good times we did have.

Make every moment count.

I love you Pete.

Sara Sawochka


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