Aspects of Love

“Off into the world we go, planning futures, shaping years.
Love bursts in, and suddenly all our wisdom disappears.”

-Love Changes Everything, Aspects of Love

I was on a train, watching the quiet, newly greening spring countryside of SW Ontario, Canada rush by.  Half asleep, I shifted in my seat to lean on the warmth of Tom next to me.

It had been Tom’s idea to take me away for a weekend in Toronto.  My mother had been home from the hospital for about a week, and my great aunt had come.  My aunt had pushed me to go, offering to watch little Zachary so that I could get some rest and relaxation away from the hard work that lay ahead.

I’d been taking my mother to various doctors, trying to get an opinion on the best approach to treat her cancer.  Pamphlets in waiting rooms had brought the dire situation we were dealing with into clear focus.  Five year survival rates of between 5 and 11 %.  I couldn’t wrap my brain around it.  No one seemed to know what to do, and we were still in a holding pattern as to how to proceed.  With each day I knew the “aggressive” cancer was taking a further hold in my mother’s chest.

My mother was reading these same pamphlets, and her mood was understandably dark.  I would leave in the mornings to teach, nearly glad to escape the heaviness that permeated every conversation.  I gratefully would  focus on something other than What To Do Next.

Tom clearly sensed this too.  He never complained about my nearly constant conversations about fear, and worry, and cancer.  Instead, he lightened the mood carefully, subtly, often without me noticing.   I was hesitant to leave the family for two whole days while my mother was so depressed, but my great aunt assured me that she had taken care of my mother when she was born, when she was sick as a child, and she would be able to manage her fifty two year old niece for two days without my assistance.

I saw Tom looking at me as I shifted in my seat.  “You’re awake,” I mumbled quietly into his sleeve.

“If I go to sleep now, we’ll be back when I wake up and then this will be over.  I don’t want this to be over,” he answered, putting his arm around me and drawing me closer.

Hearing him say that made me warm all over.  It had been an amazing weekend.  “Thank you,” I said.  “Thank you for giving me this time to be me.  Away from being a mom, being a daughter, being a teacher, being something for someone for everyone else.”

“You were something this weekend,” he smiled.  “You were mine. ”  The little emphasis he put on the word “mine” made my heart pulse faster.

I’d loved everything about the weekend, from our train ride in, to our Italian lunch complete with wine since we were both above legal drinking age in Canada, to our beautiful hotel room at the Royal York Hotel.   I loved that he took me to see an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical in Toronto’s theatre district, and I loved that the one he chose was so perfect:  “Aspects of Love”.  I loved that he took pictures of us getting ready for the show in our finery, capturing sweet photos of us with the timer (he said that he wanted to remember the feeling of love and respect and youth by capturing the moment on film).  I was in awe of him.  Every time I looked at him, held his hand, talked to him, I couldn’t believe that he’d chosen ME.

“I’ll never forget this trip, Tom.  Thank you for giving these memories to me.  They are by far a greater gift than any physical gift you could have bought.”  I squeezed his hand and could feel my throat tighten up.  “Thank you for loving me.”

He cupped my face with his palm, using his thumb to brush away the tears that were starting to fall.  “I’ve never met anyone like you.  Every day, I can’t wait for tomorrow because it means I get to see you again.”

We stared at each other, quietly, as the sky turned dark outside and we rushed back to reality, trying to savor these moments that were just about the two of us.

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