Author's Note: This week's episode was so lovely in its heartbreak that I was moved to tears. You have to understand the strength of that statement, because I don't cry in movies or films…ever. In fact I have been called "frigid" for my inability to get emotional. I know so many are disappointed in the outcome, but it is like you have all forgotten that it's not over, not by a long shot. This is a marathon not a sprint. I had started writing this piece a long time ago…musing over missed opportunities, but it seemed to spark completely after this episode. I hope it helps you see my perspective, my hope.
There is a huge difference between can't and don't.
She CAN'T have a relationship with him. Not now anyway.
That was never to imply that she DOESN'T love him. Because she does.
This same semantic line exists between could and should. It could have happened in a thousand different ways, in any one of seemingly endless moments. But timing is everything. There was a single shot, a single chance to catch fire, and it can't be wasted. Ever action, every step has consequence, a reaction. The right path requires making the turn in just the right instance. When it should happen.
It could have happened during that first case. In a swirl of tequila and pheromones. It would have been wonderful. A passionate exchange of two people that felt the type of chemistry that comes from paperback romance novels. But that kind of heat burns out, and like a flame that burns too hot, uncontrollable, deadly, there would have been nothing but destruction left in its wake. Hearts with walls scared with the soot of unchecked emotions, of disappointment and regret.
It could have happened on that night. All those years later. As partners as best friends, as family, they recalled that first night, that first exchange, that first spark. The chemistry had tempered to a glow of camaraderie, with a different kind of passion. Stronger then sexual chemistry, but no less powerful. But that same night they were reminded of their constant attraction, of the stalemate they perpetuated for far too long, they were also reminded of the risks. Those risks are too close to the surface, too painful, too possible. That night could have been beautiful, two lovers finally fulfilled, and in the early morning light, under examination a forensic anthropologist would panic and run, run so that months in Haiti putting names to lost faces, would forever and irrevocable separate two halves a of whole.
It could have happened as childhood stories became ways of saying "I trust you." It could have happened the night of scars in Sweets office, she was feeling vulnerable but safe in her partner. She opened up to him and let him know that he trust her above all others. It was in fact a perfect moment. He could have gathered her in his arms and taken her to his bed. They would have stayed for the remainder of the weekend exploring their utter perfection; and it would have been perfection. It would be a whirl-wind for nearly two years until a benign brain tumor, which had gone unnoticed in their bliss, pressed against a cerebral artery causing a catastrophic stroke. Perfection all at once can be lost.
It could have happened as he held her tight, in the warm comfort of a "guy hug." Once again without words he conveyed to her that he was there, that he wasn't leaving, that she would always have a place with him. Their long ignored electricity could have sparked. Recognizing that they could no longer orbit each other silently like the steadfast moon. However the time is not right, he is with Cam, and he has never cheated, would never, could never. So he waits and then there is Epps and Clowns and Sully.
It could have happened as she cared for him during his recovery. The surgery and surreal dream had left his feeling bare, vulnerable. It had left her feeling lost. It could have happened in unexpected honesty as he admitted that what he wanted, had always wanted from her was far deeper the any hallucinations. So instead of running, instead of boarding a plane to Guatemala she remained. They embrace the natural thing they have become and as he is released from the hospital he makes her home his. This man and this woman are happy, content, fulfilled. As she returns from the lab, from her skeletons, to the place that now truly feels like a home she never saw the car. Never knew a businessman after a four martini lunch ran a red-light. Never knew it would be years, decades, of him wondering what if, what if she had been safe and sound in Guatemala like she had planned.
It could have happened as he tugged her from Kent's torture hook. As he arms encircled his neck, and he held her close in a strong and soothing embrace. The terrors she had faced, and the panic he had undergone should have been enough to force the feeling to the surface. And there were feelings, relief, joy, appreciation and just a touch of nausea. But it was not their chance, not yet. If in that moment he had professed his undying love for her, she would have rebuked him. She would have pulled away, shied from his comfort, if only to prove she was still strong, that no amount of pistol whips or ravenous dogs could break her. It was their time to show they could be strong, for themselves, for each other.
It could have happened as her lips crashed to his, as tongues explored the warm depths. It was the season for Peace on Earth, good will toward men, and apparently prosecutors with a puckish side. She tasted like honey and mint and something purely…Temperance. His mouth was warm and inviting and quite honestly felt like home. It was all a little too familiar. Yet there was an audience, and too quick statements about kissing brothers, although no one in the room was fooled. They could have headed to her place to really explore the mistletoe, but that would mean he wasn't in his office that night. When a small toe headed little boy came looking for his daddy. A daddy that was tangled in bed linen he never heard his cell phone ring. After four hours of waiting for his dad the young child ran away from the officer heartbroken. Dangerous things can happen to a child that feels abandoned on the streets at Christmas. Unforgiveable things. So once again the universe intercedes.
It could have happened as he pulled her from the dirt, or as she pulled him off a sinking ship. The coursing fear, the realization that one could be lost forever, can bring a person to do strange things. There was yelling, and stealing, and threats, and dead ends. And most importantly hope. Something the gravedigger never counted on. The faith each had in the other made it possible to locate a single glimmer in the vast expanses. The fact that their love, their profession of love could ever be tie to this man was devastating. The nightmares of being trapped, of dying become one with their getting together. The pain is simply too much to bear and a couple is parted out of sheer exhaustion.
It could have happened as his blood pooled through her fingers, as he gave into the blackness.
It could have happened after her rose from the dead.
It could have happened as Zach's betrayal finally threatened to break the worn down anthropologist.
It could have happened as he taught her about family.
It could have happened when they were protected by undercover identities.
It could have happened over small plastic gifts, which carried more meaning then could be spoken.
It could have happened in the SUV, one could have discovered kissing was an excellent way to silence an opposing argument.
It could have happened over wine, or Thai food, or beer or Wong Foo's.
It could have happened as "The Temperance" sailed off for warmer waters.
But it didn't,
because it couldn't,
because it shouldn't.
For as many reasons as that leap should be made, there just as many possibly devastating outcomes. Threats to their happiness lurking around every bend. So many roads look pleasant and inviting until you reach a point where the path is no longer clear. So somewhere deep inside call it conscience or natural instinct. Call it God or ration something pulls them back, whispers in their ear, not yet. Sometimes it comes in the form of a particularly charming former psychologist recommending patience.
It would and should happen nearly 8 years into their partnership. 8 years of undefined ambiguity, of the pain in the unknown, of feelings ignored, discussed, repressed. And the moment doesn't come in great passion, or heartbreak. There is no hospital or killer or tears. A case does not go horribly wrong or magically right. Instead the stars aligned and the fates agreed, his God smiled and her evidence concluded on a perfect day in April. Under blue skies and warm spring winds, the sound of his son playing Frisbee with her dog, two hands met, then his forehead rest to hers and her eyes spoke to him and the damn broke.
She wasn't the woman who loved him for 30 or 40 or 50 years, it would be 53 years as the last of the autumn leaves fell that she would say goodbye to him. Although she was well past her 80th year she was once again reduced to the lost abandoned 15 year old girl that he had for so long quieted. Only this time she was not alone. He had left her with a cemetery full of friends, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, memories, love. Two years later when she could miss him no longer he was there waiting for her. Keeping his long held promise.
Can't is not the same as don't.
Could vastly different from should.
She couldn't but she did.
They haven't but they will.
She is a scientist with proof.
He is a gambler that won.
Thiers is a moment not yet come.