"His name was John and I loved him so.Ē
It was extremely hard for me to sit quietly and listen to the soft voice of Rainie Shepherd so full of wistful longing. It hurt. More than it should. I was getting emo-tionally involved and that, Iím told, is something I should not do.
Iím a journalist. Iím supposed to remain objective. I should not allow emotions to enter into the telling of a story. But I was way past that now. With just those few words she had taken over my heart.
I reached out and took her hand, felt the hard knobs of arthritis in hers as it lay between my palms. And as I gazed into her wrinkled face, I could see the beauty she once had been. And I listened to her story.
ďSometimes I sit here and wonder if I did the right thing all those years ago. I sit on my back porch in the early morning in my rocking chair just when the sun is peeking through the leaves, wondering, remembering. I wrap myself in an old sweater of Johnís that has small holes Iíve mended because it was his favorite and I canít bear to throw it away. It still brings me comfort, even though it is worn and shabby and should be thrown away. But I hang on to it simply because it was his. The day begins to warm but I refuse to take off the sweater because I can still feel his warmth. I reach over to the adjoining rocker and push the arm, listening to the sound it makes on the old wooden porch. Iíve grown old, sitting here and Iím surprised that the years have passed so quickly and Iím nearly at the end.
Itís been a good life. Some would say not. But for me, it has been. Few people understand that but what do I care? I donít live in a fancy house with all the trimmings and the lavish frills that people seem so into these days. I suppose itís the natural progression of things. But not for me. I prefer the simple. I like doing things for myself rather than rely on the easy. It means more and if thereís one thing Iíve learned in the past eighty years, itís the easy way out is not for me. Iím not bragging, mind you. Iím just trying to explain in a way that you will understand. Iím a simple woman and I like simple things. I have very few regrets and I think I may be one of the few who feel that way. I have loved John with everything that I am, He was my lifeís blood and I his. That in itself is a miracle.
My life? What can I say? Where do I even begin? Thereís so much for you to know before I can tell you about my life. Very few who know me really know how deeply I loved John. The others are skeptics, and call my life wasted. Maybe. But I never considered what I did wasted or what I didnít do afterward, wasted. I did what I had to do, what I felt was best to do. For me. And for John.
My love for him has carried me through all these years. Others have said I was punishing myself for something that only I would know. Punish myself? For what? For loving John the way I did? Iíve never heard anything so absurd. Not when you love someone with your heart and soul. Like I did John.
I know my time is coming to an end and I welcome it. Iíve always wondered what keeps a broken heart pumping and the soul, when it is shattered, not to wither and die. But here I am, living proof, that life goes on.
My hands are knotted and wrinkled. My eyesight has dimmed. My legs not so steady anymore. My body stiff. My back stooped. But the love in my heart, broken as it was, is still there. Sometimes I can hear Johnís voice. His laughter. How do I love thee? he would say. It was a magical time.
We were young, John and I, and we thought we had all the time in the world, as all people do. But the end came too quickly. I cry for him, for me, for a love lost. A life lost.
And thatís why today Iím telling you my story. I want to tell you about John. John, who I loved so.