What If?

What if you once giddily stood at the altar, before your family and all your friends, and vowed that you’d love only your chosen him? That there would never be anyone else again, and that you’d love only him until the day you died? What if you wore your gown of white as proof of your undying love for him, and you swore to the legitimacy of the promise you were making to only him? What if you faithfully and staunchly undertook to remain by his side, through all the good and all the bad, the up’s and all the down’s?

What if you convinced yourself that through sickness and health, poverty or wealth, you would stand up straight and remain loyal and devoted, and by his side? What if you pledged to love and cherish him, and only him for the rest of your life? What if you believed that you got all you could get and, in the process, you unintentionally deceived your very own heart?

What if you were burying the hopes of finding a kind of a love you are not sure exists, and what if your soul rebels against your mind, and does not allow you to live anything lesser than truly-madly-deeply? What if you were flouting its gentle nudges and tender whispers as your mind frantically scolded and silenced it? What if you thought that love was an effortless and simple decision that you were capable of making without your heart’s approval or permission?

What if you mistakenly thought that your mind was smarter and far braver than your heart? What if, years after that moment, you awake in the middle of night, terrified by the unexpected thumping and vulnerability of your heart? Unsettled and desperately afraid, you sit up and try to identify what it is that so brusquely awoke and unnerved you. Your heart races, and your hands begin to tremble as an unidentified fear grips at it, almost as though being squeezed by two remorseless hands.

What if you look around you and for a moment, you are not quite sure you are where you should be? What if you feel like an imposter, looking in on a stranger’s life, a life you don’t want? And, while the world is asleep, while the humming of the birds are quiet and the sounds of the day has been silenced, the stillness begins to haunt and taunt you, as the battering of your own heart continues to demoralize and terrify you. What if, and for just an instant, you feel as though you don’t really belong in that very moment, and that it was all an enormous mistake right from the very start?

What if you scrutinize your surroundings and in disbelief, you discover that you just don’t fit in, you never really did? What if all it ever was, was a determined need to belong and to fit in with someone you like and are safe with?

As you try to recover from your rude awakening, you are left staring miserably at the ring on your finger and you are left glaring questioningly at the furrows on your face. What if the gold has turned cold in your wedding band, and the lines on your face was supposed to be someone else’s story to tell? What if the walls begin to cave in around you, the same walls you desperately tried to make a home in, but are now a prisoner in? What if you feel secluded and trapped, and you begin to wonder if your footprints have been covered up by the sand, or by the snow?

What if you feel finished in an unfinished life? What if he is no longer home to you, and never really was? What if his fingerprints on your heart are wiped clean and all traces of him, have disappeared from your heart? What if his name has been drowned out by the noises of your world, and his eyes have disappeared from your mind? What if your light for him has slowly burnt out, yet there is a fire that still burns inside of you? What if there are arms out there that fit flawlessly around you? What if you thought you were slightly broken, but forgot that you were worth loving? What if you took just what you thought you could get?

What if you thought you were slightly off-center? Like a clock that is not perfectly set, but would still chime and tell the time, even if it was five minutes too early or ten minutes too late? What if you forgot to value you and accept you for all that you are? What if you were so busy trying to make sense of your past and map out your future, that you missed the one your soul loves? What if you chose wrong? What if you were so desperate to rip apart from your unique self that in the end, you ripped a part from you? What if trying to repair you, finally broke you?

What if one day you wake up and your heart hurts? You feel unexpected anguish. You need never-before-needed validation of your place in the world. You need to matter more. You need to love, to truly-madly-deeply and ridiculously-foolishly-blindly love. Your loneliness is unpredictably excruciating. What if you realize that you chose to be loved, rather than to love, and now being loved is no longer as important as it once was? What if there is still evidence of your worth in a heart still searching for yours? What if a song might be playing right now, and that heart stops, because he misses you, even though he’s not quite sure who it is that he longs for? It might be that the winds carry the whispers of your name to him, and as he hauntingly stops to find you, he frantically gasps for air. What if he dreams of you, the girl whose face he can’t see, but whose soul misses yours?

What if you are still thriving in another’s dreams? What if he longs for a place, he’s not sure exists anymore, and has no idea if he will ever find you there? What if he is stuck in a moment, holding his breath, afraid that he might miss you? Anxious that he might never find you, terrified that you might have passed him by forever. So, beautiful and deserving soul, wake up and be true and faithful to your heart. Don’t hold hostage a heart that does not belong to you. Let him go and let him find the soul that misses his. Be loyal to your Spirit.

Your what-if’s are closer than you think, and time is shorter than you will ever know. Don’t be safe. Don’t search for stability or comfort. How can your dreams come true while your eyes are closed, or while you settle for a good-enough fit? Look for the magic of the one that is searching for you, the one that fits you like a glove. Look for the miracles heading in your direction and hear the gentle nudging of your soul. Don’t sidestep them, and never hide from them. Don’t allow your mind the power your heart is trained for. Don’t be the girl who stares at those walls blankly someday, the one who does not have a story for the lines on her face. Meet love halfway. Don’t wake up in the darkest of nights, tormented by all your should-have-been’s and never, ever allow for what-if’s.

Throw out any reservations your mind, your might have been’s, rake up and discard all sense, shelter and reasoning, and make space for the instinctive messages between your heart, your soul and your mind. There is never a do-over for any of us, and time is too short for anything less than a magnificent, delightful and an exhilarating kind of love with no regrets.

The House Where Love Once Lived

She began to tremble slightly as she stood in the shade of an almost fifty-year-old oak tree and eyed the old white house on the hill. She felt a gentle breeze submerge her, before a mild shudder ran down her spine, almost as though it was welcoming her back, but at the same time, scolding her for being gone for far too long. She could have sworn that the old oak was much smaller when she used to stand at that very same spot and call out his name, not too long ago.

She could clearly remember how they carved their initials in that very same tree, and when she looked closely, she could see traces of what was once written and promised in the bark. Her eyes followed the trail that leads up the stairs, and onto the porch that wrapped itself around the entire house. He wouldn’t be home, but she had to return one last time. She had to come and ask for her soul back. She was ready to plead, beg and negotiate, so she opened the gate, and walked up the path she had walked a million times before. She looked down and wondered if her footprints were perhaps burnt in somewhere underneath her, below a thousand others that walked that same pathway after her.

She wondered if the walls would remember her, and if the rose shrubs would perhaps recognize her after all these years? She beamed slightly when she saw the age-old garden swing, one she could barely remember not being there. Were they four, or were they five when they sat there together, for the very first time? Before she sat down, she gently pressed her hands down on the scuffed and worn swing. She couldn’t help but wonder if her handprints were still hidden beneath his. The front door was closed, the windows were shut, and the curtains were all drawn. Almost as though it was defending and preserving the memories that were once there for the world to see. Almost as though it was shielding outsiders from the sacredness of a kind of love that no longer lives there.

Her eyes caught the upstairs window to the bedroom right at the end of the hall. How often had she strolled down that passage and into that bedroom where he would be playing the guitar or waiting for her to do their homework. She wondered if those four walls ever whispered their stories to anyone else? Stories they were dreaming of when they were seven, eleven, fourteen or seventeen. How many secrets had they branded into the walls of that very same bedroom?

She looked over at the Fraser Fir she was sure seemed bigger when she was younger. Was that where her love for Christmas trees and their magic began? She frowned just a little when she remembered how his beloved dog was buried right below that beautiful tree, and how they both thought that he would live on in that very same tree, forever. She noticed the latch of a hallway window still broken. She grinned when she thought back to how it accidentally broke when he snuck out one night. He just had to see her before the morning light. He had to tell her to be still, and that everything will be alright. Before her nightmares closed in on her, he had to wrap his arms around her, and make her feel safe one more time. They must have been nine or ten.

She looked out over the town below the big, white house on the hill, and at once recognized the road they had walked each day, hand in hand. She wondered how often he sat there and watched her walk the same streets that leads to the house, where love once lived. She lowered her head, and replayed memories of what felt like a thousand years, and a million heartbeats ago. She thought that if she could be there, where love once lived, she could conquer her brokenness, and collect up all the ruins of her broken heart. She thought that if she could feel him once more, there where her love once lived, her crushed pieces would mend, and her heart would feel less numb.

She slowly made her way to the front door, and she wondered how many times she had knocked on that very same door? She was sure that if she listened closely, she might hear the sounds on the other side echo down the hallway, just as she had so many times before. She placed her ear against that heavy, wooden door when she was sure she could hear his laughter on the other side. She closed her eyes when she heard the ghosts of her past still run wild on the other side of those walls.

She could not ignore the sounds her haunting memories of unspoiled and untainted love made, or the promises of forever she could still hear from the house where love once lived. As she made her way down the path and back to the gate, she quickly swabbed at the tears that were threatening to gush from her eyes. It would be her last visit to the house where love once lived. It would be one final struggle to free her heart, still coldly imprisoned between those walls and under that roof. It would be her one last chance to walk away, without leaving her soul behind. There, where it continued to dwell in the house where love once lived.

When she reached the gate, she turned around one last time. She whispered a silent goodbye to what was left of the house where she knew, her soul would be trapped in forever. A house that no longer had any stories to tell, except for the collection of souls it refuses to set free. A home that has grown cold, abandoned and silenced. The memories of love, laughter and joy that once roamed freely in every room of this home, was now carved into the foundation and forsaken. No-one wants the house where love once lived. Nobody wants to be reminded of the sorrow or the anguish that came in as an uninvited guest and left a path of destruction on its way out. As though it stands on sacred ground, the house is left untouched. Nobody dares to walk through that gate anymore.

Nobody wants to walk up the trail to the house where love once lived. Nobody wants to forget the anguish of the broken hearts that were left behind, and nobody can fix the fragmented wreck that was once a house where love lived. The skies turned dark, and the wind howled through the large oak tree as she waved the house goodbye, one last time.

“Keep my heart … my soul still lives there …”

The Photograph

She keeps a photograph of him hidden in a memory box lovingly carved in wood she buries deep in the back of her closet. What was once just another ordinary photograph, has turned into a token of validation for her, as the years passed her by. The heart-shaped locket carrying the treasured photograph is a reminder of a man and a moment she should have disregarded, and left tucked away in the past. A simple photograph that wonderfully freezes time for her and distances the voices around her whenever she looks at it.

A photograph she tells no-one of but holds to value above all the treasures in the world. She fits in right amongst us, and mostly, she goes unnoticed. There is nothing spectacular, unusual or bizarre about her as she goes about her day-to-day life as any mother and wife would. She invites her friends over for coffee, or she runs her errands just as any other person does. She kisses her man when he leaves for work each morning, and she waves the children goodbye as they rush off to school. If you saw her, you would never know about the photograph that she keeps hidden and buried in a heart-shaped locket in her closet.

You will never know that every once in a while, when she is alone with her thoughts, when nobody calls for her and nobody needs her, she closes her bedroom door, and carefully takes out the locket where that photograph of him is kept under a shroud of secrecy.

The corners of the photograph are beginning to fray, and the aging ink is beginning to fade. There is evidence that the photograph was once torn in resentment or fury, or perhaps while overwhelmed by the shatters of a broken heart. If you turn it over, you will notice how it was then desperately glued and taped back together. You are convinced that the wrinkles and folds on that photograph was because it was once crumpled, and impulsively banished into a waste bin. If you look closely, you will see stains you would swear, are from teardrops that once fell onto it.

She slowly and carefully traces his face with her fingertips, as he looks back at her. She gazes into the eyes that looked back at her a thousand times before. In his eyes, she finds a million stories. Each time she joins him in that photograph, she sees something different. Sometimes, there are stories of pain, suffering and sadness, but at other times, there are stories of uncertainty, confusion, fear, frustration and desperation. Mostly, his eyes let her know of the love there once was for her, and only for her. When her eyes trail down to his mouth, she achingly touches them, and she smiles sadly, as though she can feel them at her fingertips. She can’t stop her bottom lip from quivering, when she remembers how his lips felt against hers, almost a lifetime ago.

She remembers the way they kissed her, and she can once more hear their messages to her heart. Her eyes begin to scrutinize every inch of his face, and when they detect that all-too-familiar dimple around his mouth just below his cheek, she beams when she remembers how he once, laughed from the very hub of his stomach. She can so vividly recall how it would begin with a smile and a frown all at the same time. Then, almost as though a countdown to an explosion begins, he would erupt into a laughter that could silence the entire world, as strangers search for the happiest and most beautiful sound in the biosphere. She pauses when her eyes rests on his hair. She gazes with sadness at his dark, not quite black hair that is wildly blowing in the wind, and she remembers how he used to run his fingers through them when they argued. She can so easily evoke the memory of how he used to sit quietly while deep in thought as his elbows rested on his knees, and twirled a lock of his own hair with his index finger.

For a few moments, that photograph of him reminds her of love. An honest, crazy and mad kind of love she thought, she would know forever. That photograph hidden in a heart-shaped locket is what tells her where and when she was introduced to a kind of love, she never thought she would find. It was a love that trapped her beneath his eyes and kept her from seeing others around her. It is a photograph of a man she knows she will miss for the remainder of her life. A photograph of a place and a time where fairy tales were real, and butterflies lived inside of her. When that photograph quietens her heartache once more, she buries the heart-shaped locked at the deepest part of her cherished memory box.

Her eyes begin to sparkle, and as a lost tear rolls down her cheek, she whispers how her heart misses his. She once again hides her memories, her tears, and her greatest sadness in the darkest corner of her closet before she returns to the chaos of the world around her. There where there are no traces of him or the moment they were once spellbound in. A photograph she clings to. A validation that shows her the proof that he was once real, even though their moment was fleeting. It hands her the evidence she needs to know that he loved her madly, and that their love was once captured and would remain timeless in a heart-shaped locket, ready for her to evoke, whenever she wanted to.