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He whispered, “I’m so sorry.”

“For what?” I asked. In truth, I wondered for which of his transgressions he was apologizing. His parched lips silently demanded that I draw my own conclusions.

I told him that I, too, was sorry. “He’s unconscious,” a nurse whispered. But I knew he heard me and understood what I was sorry for, even if I didn’t entirely understand—at least not that night. Lucca was like that. He had insights, revelations, and understandings that came to me later; much later. Perhaps his wisdom came from his additional decade of life. Perhaps it was from his Moon in Cancer.

In the end, a love that had once shined so brightly and with such beauty, appeared much like Christmas lights when removed from the tree and left to their own devices; dark and so hopelessly twisted, tangled, and shattered, that a casual observer might carefully search for rhyme or reason, and find none. But I felt in my soul, that our life together was more than the randomly woven tapestry of emotional and spiritual loose ends that it appeared to be. Years of careful design had ultimately created a faultless tapestry of acceptance and understanding that graced those final hours of our time together, and ushered us into the next phase of our journeys.

As Lucca slipped away from this earth that evening, I watched helplessly and wondered how he could make such a clean, easy exit from the complicated web we had woven. Perhaps I even envied him a bit.

A union that had begun with such promise and passion ended with a deep breath and a long sigh from Lucca’s lips, followed by eternal silence.

Later, standing by the cold metal bed and staring down at his perfect lifeless body, sheltering him from a single, harsh, bright light that burned behind me, and all but obscuring his body in the darkness of my shadow, I attempted to understand what our life together had been all about. I longed to understand how in the world we had arrived at this most incredible moment. Suddenly my world crystallized and my life existed only within each moment as it passed. Vigilantly collected ammunition from the past, was as useless as my carefully planned future, both of which had escaped with Lucca’s final breath. The only time that existed was now. The present. A confusing abyss of unanswered questions. The smell of antiseptics. Whispers in the corridor. The squeak of a nurse’s shoe. The sobs of a woman whose husband was no more. My sobs. There would be no sharing memories about the good old days, no sitting in the big-ass house, as old folks, surrounded by grandchildren, and recollecting the hard times with laughter. No more assurances of fidelity yet to come. No more violations, promises, punishments, or apologies. The taste of his kisses, the smell of his skin, the sound of his voice would now live only in my memory—fading a bit with each passing day. No more sharing, shaming, wanting, or dreaming. No more him. No more us. No more …

I stood by his bedside, looking down at him with an emptiness that went beyond losing my life mate. For more than half of my life I had based my identity on Lucca, and with him gone, the me that I had known, no longer existed. I was, once again, as devoid of an identity as I had been when I wandered past the church doors and entered this life of color and texture.

Was Lucca sacrificed to the Gods of Truth, Love, or Honor in the same way that lives were offered to the Gods of Rain, Fertility, or Bounty, during droughts and famines, in ancient times, I wondered. As I looked around the cold hospital room, the steel framed bed seemed hardly an appropriate altar, and I was certainly not a fitting priestess.

Who was writing this book, this story, in which I lived? If a God existed, where was this God’s sense of justice? Within this painful journey called life, where questions abounded, where were the answers? Even I could write better than this dreck! I vowed to find my connection with a higher power, if indeed one existed, if only to challenge this script in which I lived, and take some control of this runaway train on which I was traveling. Within this demand for authorship, I had a realization: this newfound strength and commitment to author my life came about not in spite of this tragic turn of events, but because of it. And even within this time of agony and adjustment, I found this fact amazing.

Like a child, with neither a concept of the task that lay ahead, nor of my own abilities, stomping my foot belligerently, and shaking my finger at God, I began the next phase of my journey—equipped only with a high degree of unsustainable irreverence for life, enormous resistance to the laws of the universe, and my laptop computer.

But that, as they say, is another story.

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