Forgive me for this Springsteen overdose, but I love the lyrics of this song. They capture wonderfully what loving someone, and being loved in return, is all about.
We said we'd walk together, baby, come what may
That come the twilight should we lose our way
If as we're walkin' a hand should slip free
I'll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me
We swore we'd travel, darlin', side by side
We'd help each other stay in stride
But each lover's steps fall so differently
But I'll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me
Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true
But you and I know what this world can do
So let's make our steps clear that the other may see
And I'll wait for you
If I should fall behind
Wait for me
It was the thought of this embrace, the way she had done the right thing instinctively then, that had finally convinced me to stay with her despite my doubts, and this precious feeling of security, of belonging, of being at ease, being myself that she gave me. And continues to give.
The room is lit by the day's first sunlight now. Evelyn has moved away from me in her sleep and is lying on her side. I refrain from touching her because I don't want to wake her just yet, but I study her carefully. Her wavy red-golden hair has fallen across her cheek, hiding her face. Apart from that, only her shoulder with the lacy strap of her nightie is visible above the covers. Those moments when I watch her in the early morning light are the one good thing about those sleepless nights I keep having.
Again I wonder what I would have done with my life without her. She has simply been there for me all the time, through the highs and especially the lows, enduring my brooding silence when depression washed over me and threatened to submerge me, my sarcasm when anger and frustration made me lash out at the person that meant more to me than anyone else ever had. I know that she often wept when she thought I wouldn't notice. In the beginning I tended to feel guilty for burdening her with my presence. I still hated what I had become and couldn't imagine that she would want to carry the burden of a crippled and traumatized man permanently, I thought she would one day regret her decision to take me in.
I have come to understand that she knew very well what she was doing. I should have known from the start that Evelyn Spence wouldn't do anything she didn't believe in. Eventually I learned to accept her love and care without second thoughts.
She has never failed to endorse and support me. Whenever I was about to surrender fatalistically if something didn't work out quickly enough – the search for a new occupation or the slow and painful process of learning to walk with an artificial leg as well as many of the everyday challenges I was facing again and again – she kept encouraging me to see things through.
Looking back, I have lost a lot since the war became an inevitable reality in my life. There are times when I miss the island and its people badly. I've never loved any job I've done more than the pearl trade, and the limits to my scope of activity can be frustrating even after such a long time.
But it's what I found that matters, something I had once thought was only for other people. The love of my life, my soulmate. We have built a wonderful home in those seven years and a wonderful relationship.
We haven't married because we never felt the need to. What we share doesn't require any official stamp, nor rings and vows and lavish ceremony.
I want to spend the rest of my life with Evelyn by my side, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. I don't have to say the words aloud in a church or sign some paper for her to know that I will love and cherish her until my final day, whenever that may be.
And I know that she feels the same. The unconditional love of a woman ready to make sacrifices for me, to stand by me, to wait for me if I fell behind was a wholly new experience for me and the greatest gift I've ever received.
Evelyn is stirring beside me as she often does shortly before the alarm clock starts to ring. I don't want that jarring noise to tear her from her sleep this morning, so I reach over and turn the alarm off before it begins to sound.
When it's time for her to wake up, I roll over and softly whisper "Good morning", kissing the bit of her cheek that peeks out between her tousled curls.
She gives a sleepy little sigh, squeezing her eyelids tightly shut for a moment like a little girl. She hates having to get up early and can't help smiling because that was exactly what I had been expecting her to do.
Knowing all her little quirks so well gives me a warm and tender feeling of familiarity and intimacy.
The feeling of having found my place in the world at last.