Written by M.J.C
I was early. I was always early. I’m comfortable being alone and settling in before meeting or dining with friends, or anyone really. I need that time to set myself and my emotions at ease. And to prepare to be who I needed to be, depending on who I was to dine with.
I didn’t need any preparation before dining with her, though. But being early was just who I was after all these years. I was excited to see her as always. Though today was tinged with some anxiety which was unusual when seeing her. I pushed my doubt away though the moment I saw her.
She was already there. Earlier than me. As always.
I approached her table and saw her beauty. She was beautiful. A calm and well-lived beauty. A beauty that turned a room and gathered gazes from near and far, men and women. She welcomed those gazes with warmth and confidence. And occasionally a goddess smile of acceptance and absolution.
She smiled at me and I entered a safe place like no other. The falling away of my fears and doubts were immediate as always. And the flowing of her… power was felt emotionally before my logical self was aware.
How are you? She asked, as I leaned in to kiss her on her lips. Her lipstick was subtle, her lips full, soft, and warm. Her smell was familiar. Her hair was soft and smelled of… almond cherry? Honey? Lavender? Daisies? I never asked. I just let all her aromas of her evelop me.
“Good. All good.” I said.
I immediately asked her how she was doing. Had I asked her that already? Time was slow and fast. And then the waitress asked what we wanted to drink. Where did the waitress come from? Why hadn’t I noticed? I was off my game of being hyper-aware of my surroundings.
She ordered water with lemon, and a diet Pepsi. She picked this restaurant because they served pepsi. Still drinking it, I thought. She drank slowly and with purpose even though she never finished her drink these days.
She used to drink Pepsi from the bottle and always finished it. She’d laugh when I asked for a sip, and then she’d finish it right in front of me. I’d laugh too, even though I really wanted some.
Lunch came and she started eating. I did too. What was I even eating? I don’t remember ordering. What was wrong with me today?
“How was your week?” I asked.
We hadn’t spoken in a few days, which was unusual for us, and I’d missed her. I never got enough of her.
“Everything was very fun and easy,” she answered. She’d visited various friends over the holidays, without staying anywhere too long, and while also not attending any family gatherings. She’d stopped those long ago in favor of regular visits throughout the year.
Saving holidays for her small group of friends. And me. She always made time for our visits. I loved them. I loved her. I never got enough of my time with her and wanted to see her every day. Be with her every day. She knew that and she’d smile and sometimes laugh and say I’d always been that way with her. “I never got enough,” she’d say.
Or she’d ask “have you have enough of me yet?”
“Never.” Was my reply every single time.
“When will you stop your life and just be with me all day, every day?” I asked.
I asked her this question all the time, half playfully and half hopeful that today was the day she’d finally agree to always be with me.
She laughed her full laugh that rarely came out in public. I could get it out of her though, anytime and anywhere.
She ate slowly. She never answered my question either. I was sad but knew why. It didn’t matter, because I’d ask her again soon.
“Stop staring at me,” she said smiling at me as our eyes met.
“Just a moment longer,” I replied.
“Okay, just a moment.” she said as she took a sip of her pepsi and started eating her pasta again.
I stared at her again. She knew I would. I always did. Always would.
I stared and studied. I knew her face, her few freckles, her cheekbones. I loved her skin tone, and her almond eyes and her brows. I breathed in to take in her smell. It was no longer the cherry almond I associated with her, but that’s what I smelled anyway.
I knew her face best of all. And yet I didn’t know it at all I thought.
It was always my first time seeing her.
“I know you’re busy next month, but we will see each other later in the month.” She stated this as a fact, not a question. She was a direct speaker and her route to life was a straight path with few squiggly lines.
“Okay, that’s great. Fine. Can’t wait. We will have coffee,” I said, imitating her directness while showing all my eagerness to see her again.
She gave a half smile and said “That sounds good.” She liked how I mimicked her style.
She’d helped me be more forceful and push through my introvertedness while not losing that part of me which she said she loved. She said my strength was being an introvert and she gently coached me on how to navigate my emotions and fears, and not bury them.
She was gentle and never critical or judgemental.
She was was gentle and slowly but surely I learned how to be…me. Mostly from watching her but also from my own trial and error and feedback from her during our regular quiet time together.
She asked for the check. She was ready to go.
She rarely lingered. She ate, drank, shared a story or two and listened to a story or two from me and then asked me her usual questions.
How’s my granddaughter?
How’s your home?
Are you caring for yourself?
How’s your depression?
Are you staying surfaced with your friends?
Are you writing?
What comic books are you reading?
She asked the last question as our little joke since she’d given me my first comic in an effort to get me to stop reading over her shoulder. It worked and I’d been reading comics ever since.
My answers flowed with ease and joy. I loved when she questioned me because I could let it all out and feel better. Be better. She was my best therapy and she knew it. But she didn’t dwell.
That wasn’t her.
She asked her questions and she listened to my answers and asked a follow-up question here or there when I was too vague for her. I corrected myself and re-answered until she was satisfied. I could never fake an answer with her.
I cried a bit talking about my daughter. And she did too. She loved her as much as me, I thought. They made each other laugh. They frequently laughed about me, with her sharing stories with my daughter of my antics from long ago.
I loved watching them. Those two gave me joy; and they gave one-another joy. They were similar in how they moved; their eyes, how they laughed, and their…power and energy.
They both directed a universal flow of power and love; a type of force field that they controlled and only let certain people feel and penetrate. I was one of those people, so when they were together I was overflowing with their combined essence and it was perfect. Perfect.
The check came and she pulled out her wallet. The server told her the bill was already paid and that she was just bringing the receipt.
She looked over at me and smiled and chuckled.
“You.” That’s all she said.
I’d called ahead and given the restaurant my credit card number so that I could pay. It was the only way I could prevent her from insisting that she pay. And because she always arrived before I did, I needed to handle things way in advance.
She got up and walked to my side of the table. She stood there and I took her hand while still sitting. It was soft, but not too soft. And very warm.
I accepted her energy and it warmed me. She leaned down and said as our cheeks touched: “I’m proud of you; I love you. I miss you, too.”
“Take care, love.”
Her warm tear transferred to my face.
I held her longer than I should have. I touched her face. I Touched her hair as I always did when we hugged. I didn’t want her to leave. I wanted to go with her. This time I would. I’d just get up and walk out with her.
But I didn’t. I sat there as I always did.
She started to fade now. Becoming faint. Thinned out, until she was no longer there.
Mom was gone and I sat there alone again. Missing her and looking forward to our next visit later in the month, in late January.
Next time, I’ll leave with her, I told myself as I paid for my lunch and left the restaurant.
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