Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Brother’s Lover

We found love letters.

While my brother was fighting for his life in the hospital, my sister and my brother’s son went to my brother’s condo to search for medical and legal papers.  I waited in the family waiting room watching people come and go, some sleeping in the fold-out chairs.

When my sister returned, she had a small stack of letters some still sealed, but some opened.  She handed an opened one to me.  They had found a love letter and a card to someone with the initial K in his jacket coat pocket and they had read a few of them.

I can’t read these, I told them both.  These longing letters were for “her”… whoever she may be.  It was a shame she never received them I said.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get these love letters to her?  It would be impossible, I thought, but we all agreed it would be a romantic outcome.  It was comforting to know our brother was in a happy place when the stroke happened.  He loved someone and someone loved him!

After my brother’s death a few days later, the lovers’ words began unraveling the mystery.  In his home, we found elegant letters and poems, a few written by my brother, but mostly from the lady K.  My sister read more of the secret missives finding clues to who the mysterious K could be as she had to be someone living in my brother’s small town.  We discovered they had met at church.

K was in a physically abusive marriage.  She had been battling breast cancer for a few years… in her own words, wondering if anyone could really love her again after her deforming surgery.  Often she wrote her letters on the back road of the town’s huge cemetery.

My brother was legally separated for two years and had almost reached the end of a horrible marriage at the time of his death.  Using their initials, they often made a statement that together they would both be “OK”.  It was obvious that O & K had found comfort and peace in their love, like a tragic destiny.  Their letters and his poems had such a yearning that brought their happiness alive and then, because of his death, crashed those dreams in a poignant unbelievable sadness.

While cleaning out his home, we found all kinds of new household items; color-coordinated, unopened in bags with tags… they told of plans to start-over.  He was in his new dream car when the stroke hit him in the church parking lot.  We knew he had found a house in another state that he planned to purchase after his divorce.  We make plans and God laughs… but my brother was happy making those plans for the future.  It was apparent O was going to whisk K up one day and ride off into the sunset!

Two of my sisters visited my brother’s church in hopes of finding K.  We didn’t know what she looked like and only a few people took the time to find out who my sisters were, but as they were leaving, a woman came up to the car and introduced herself.  Shocked, my sisters told her who they were and, after some persuasion, K said she was the right person. 

K was worried about her letters to my brother being found, but my sisters assured her they had them all.  One sister pressed a piece of paper with her phone number and told Kathy to call her sometime.

She was a mousy woman with thinning, patched hair, probably from chemo treatments.  Not my brother’s type, my sisters thought.  Her eyes constantly darted back to her husband sitting in their car.  She was visibly sad, telling my sisters they had only been together once and their letters were the only thing that kept her going.  “I really loved him,” was the last thing she said as they parted ways.            

My sister hopes K will call her someday and eventually we can give the tender letters and poems to her without causing her more grief or pain.  Knowing some of the situation makes it seem dangerous. 

Who are we to judge, my sisters and I tell each other?  Who knows why we are drawn to one another for so many human reasons?  They needed their love and their dreams. 

The heart wants what it wants.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Steps to Nowhere?

Uptown there are “left behind” step that used to herald the entrance of a long-gone business.  The overgrown lot has been vacant for years, except for the eight broken concrete steps.

A few months ago, I started noticing homeless men sitting on the steps.  The shade trees on either side of the steps provided a respite from the summer sun and made a neat spot for the men to congregate and talk.

Lately, I began to think of those steps in a different way --- they are the steps to nowhere.  These men must feel their lives are going nowhere too with life tossing them out on the streets.  The steps might be comfortable for now, but maybe they should find another perch or a more helpful sanctuary.  There are places within a few blocks that offer ways of providing what they might need instead of resting at this weigh station on the road of life.

How many of us have missed opportunities by sitting on steps to nowhere?