Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailing
Somewhere beyond the sea
She's there watching for me
If I could fly like birds on high
Then straight to her arms I'd go sailing
It's far beyond the stars, it's near beyond the moon
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon
— 'Beyond the Sea', written by Charles Trenet and Jack Lawrence
He'd never found believing, simply believing, to be so hard until she was gone. On a frosty winter afternoon, with the boys outside playing in the snow and Mrs. du Maurier sitting in a rocking chair with a complacent smile and her knitting to keep her occupied, believing seemed so far away. In the days of early spring when the birds filled the fresh morning with sweet songs, it was then when his heart ached most for the gentle laugh, the fond smile that would fill his mind with inspiration. The years without her pass like the floating leaves of autumn, twirling in the wind for all to admire.
Life is bittersweet. Life is cruel for taking her away. Life is kind for granting him those few months of bliss with her. Life is generous for giving him her sons, who each bear painfully strong likenesses to her. Life, hope, believing, is fading away.
He loved her. It was no sin, he was convinced. Just an inevitable devotion. Was he really to blame? The empty eyes of his wife, which once had held love and affection for him, were no longer able to disguise their contempt. She did not understand him as Sylvia had. She was cold, pale, and hard, so concerned with public appearances and making certain that the maid got the stain off of her yellow silk calling gown. It never would have worked for things to have gone on like that. His wife was trying to please the world, worried about how they would see her. But he was more a child trapped in a grown man's body, caring more about how he should see the world. Only, he wasn't trapped. He was free.
He always had Neverland to return to, after a late night spent trying to lull Michael to sleep or calming Peter from a nightmare or after a hectic, hard day that always took its toll on him. Neverland was his refuge, his sweet relief. Raising children made him feel more like an adult in every day that passed, and he thought if he lost his inner childishness, he would lose everything. So night after night, he visited Neverland, more than often to see her.
Oh, she was beautiful. Even in life, with hardship lining her tired eyes and exhaustion shadowing her face, she was lovely. Now, her cares had been lifted, her worries borne away. She was an angel in glimmering, pure white, dark blonde curls tumbling around her face, laughter in her eyes. She was his angel. And she had found her way to Neverland.
Sometimes, the world was too strong and reality overcame believing. He had forever thought that reality was silly; magic and belief were always there and always so easy to step into, like stepping into a warm, delightful bubble bath. Reality was harsh, cold, and no fun at all, especially not for children. He couldn't see why one would force children to face reality.
But it was at the height of unhappiness, the very pinnacle of growing up and beginning to learn what worry and anxiety were, that magic was most important. Children should never grow up. If everyone were grown-ups, even the rosy-cheeked infants and precocious, artless youngsters, where would the beauty of the world be? True beauty lay in innocence, in purity, in the bright, shining eyes of the little boy as he chased the butterfly; in the delighted, unadulterated laughter of a small girl; in all that was young and simple and guileless. Children were wonderful—wonderful in their ignorance and candor. He didn't like grown-ups nearly so much as he liked children. And neither did she. Perhaps, he thought, perhaps that was why Sylvia had grown so fond of him. Because he had a child's heart.
And he was losing that. It was hard, increasing difficult, to be a father. Fathers took care of their children. Fathers were older, wiser, and knew what to do. Fathers couldn't be children. Fathers needed wives. And he had no one, but then again, there was no one who could ever be compared to Sylvia.
On the nights that he missed her most, her grief knew no bounds. He would bury his face in the pillow's soft comfort, tears falling like rain. Then it was that he seemed so much older, the weight of the world on his shoulders, a tired and sad man. He missed her dearly. He could still recall the stray lock of soft blonde hair that curled on her shoulder, the blush in her cheeks like roses in summer, her gentle laugh that he could provoke so easily. She was beautiful.
He'd seen her before they buried her. She looked cold. Hard. Dead. Pale snowy skin, unsmiling lips, veiled eyes like beautiful glass beads, nothing more, nothing alive. Staring and staring but never seeing. No, he thought, This isn't her. She has gone already. She has gone to Neverland.
Maybe that's what Neverland really is. A place where we can stop growing and start living. An escape, a safe haven. Yes. Safe. Away from an empty world of cold, calculating adults who try to make you grow up too fast. A place where you really belong. Warm and welcoming, with regal peacocks clad in shimmering green and blue and sparkling lagoons and cascading waterfalls of glistening crystal and lush rainforests alive with the chattering of birds and the shrieks of monkeys. A place like the beautiful paradise that the fairies would send you dreams of when you were a child. The only tears shed are tears of mirth, laughter, happiness. It's wonderful because you notice the beauty around you, even simple things like sunrises, flowers, clouds. Things you'd never have noticed in the real world because you were too busy, too tired, too old. But in Neverland, you'd never get older, never get tired of anything. Not the tiny, exquisite fairies with painted wings like butterflies, or the dusky-haired mermaids who regard you with empty, mirror-like eyes, or the life all around you, vivid and continuous. Like the birds that soar against the deep blue of the sky. Happy. Content. And free.