Half a year! So much has happened since the meaningful weekend in Boston. Through many dangers, toils and snares you have already come. Theresa, we see you standing here in thankfulness and that's a good thing. It's because of your acting and your honesty that Garrett will tell you something at last, since the place he went on once was
Not the Road to Nowhere
They arrived at Garrett's house and went in, holding each others hand. Theresa noted at once her summer jacket that still lay on the chair and her self-made jigsaw puzzle that Garrett had put into a convenient image frame. Apart from one single photo -just the same one Brenda held in her hands- she didn't see anything from Catherine. Garrett closed the door and asked: "Would you like something to drink?" Theresa put her arms around him. "No, thank you, I just want to hold you." Garrett held her tight too. She put her head on his shoulder and enjoyed some moments in silence. Memories kept rushing through her mind and all at once she started:
"Garrett, can you forgive me?"
This was something he didn't expect. After some bashful seconds he replied gently: "But why? I'm so glad you're here with me." Theresa bent her head. "There were so many things that I did wrong. In Boston at the airport, when you were leaving, I should have simply said: 'me too, I love you.' But I didn't. My stubborn head and my false pride made all turn to the bad instead. I didn't want to listen, neither to you, nor to Kevin and worst, not even to myself. Right now I think it's nothing less than a gift from heaven that you still want me"
Once again Garrett smiled in confidence: "Theresa, what more can I say? I owe my life to you." She looked in his eyes with amazement: "What makes you say so?"
It was conviction and thankfulness in his voice when he replied: "It almost seems that you didn't want to tell anybody, but you left a deep impression to the staff at the hospital, you know. Especially a nice elderly nurse thought that what you did was outstanding. I know it from her. I know, Theresa, that your blood is in me, it flows through my heart and my veins. Without you, I wouldn't be here. So what can I say other than thank you for saving my life when everybody else gave me up? Only you pushed stubbornly through with me! You alone could have done it." Theresa's answer was a long and passionate kiss. Only then she replied: "I didn't want to show off with it. And then, you saved my life too, you know?" Garrett was puzzled: "Now how would that be possible?"
Theresa caressed his cheek once more: "Let's sit down on the couch. I'd like to snuggle up to you and tell you all from the beginning."
And so she did. Working like mad for the new job, the quarrel with Kevin, Chicago with that more than unpleasant evening. "That's why I said about speeding before. It was outright deadly dangerous." This time Garrett cut in: "I don't believe it. What a dirty feller! Serves him right." Theresa continued. Her coming home, Kevin's escape and that darned phone call. "I'm so ashamed for what I said to you. Please can you forgive me?" she asked once more. Garrett nodded "I would probably have thought the same in the first place. Anger makes blind. Me too, I had to learn it the hard way. What made you change your mind then?" She went on telling. The discussion with Deanna and her long weekend that started out so fine but ended almost in a tragedy with the incident on her boat tour. "It was because of your diving course that I am still alive. Without it, I would very probably have drowned. It was as if you were with me, Garrett, leading me step by step away from death. So you too saved my life.
She went on and concluded finally. "You see, I really had to reflect my life and I know at long last what I want to do now: Leave the past behind and make a new start with you, Garrett."
He kissed her. "Then would you like to know about the storm?" She nodded "Yes please." So Garrett told her what Kevin and he had gone through. And he was honest enough not to leave out Catherine's amazingly and incredible foresight regarding the life vests. "And I was called an expert?" he mocked himself "certainly not in this very moment!" Theresa sighed at the end: "If only I had listened to my heart earlier. It all needn't have to be." Garrett said as he did once to Kevin: "Nothing can make those things undone. But as you said before, we must look forward now. Together we can do it.
But what do you think, my love, about having a drink after so much talking and go to sleep then. And of course I will respect your feelings. I can put out the bed couch for me." Theresa smiled: "No please stay with me. I'm through with lonely nights!"
They went outside where a starry sky awaited them. Garrett poured out two glasses of wine while Theresa lighted a candle. Finally he dared to ask: "And you have been promoted now in your Boston magazine?" She nodded. "Yes I worked really hard but it has a big advantage to me. Most of the time, I can work from home now. It was a choice between a wage rise and a more flexible time schedule. I took the latter because I thought that in future, we can spend more time together this way.
But yet, there is something I want to tell you. I had also another reason to come here, or exactly, to come here at this particular weekend."
He frowned: "What do you mean?" She continued surely: "Garrett, you never mentioned what tomorrow's date means to you. But I asked Jeb. So I know that tomorrow will be the fourth anniversary of Catherine's passing away. I understand that this day has never been easy for you. I just didn't want to leave you alone tomorrow. Let me help you to go through it. For the sake of our love that we share, I want to share the pain with you too."
Garrett got reflective, but finally he took her hand and kissed it. "I never mentioned it because it's been indeed the worst day all those years ever since it happened. I really didn't want anybody to see that shadow of a man I used to be on this particular day." And with an apologizing smile he added:" Sorry that I didn't tell you. "
"You don't have to be, I think I can imagine what you must have been going trough." Theresa said.
The next few moments fell silent. Finally the memories of the worst time in his life came over his lips: "In the end it's about running away. Running away from myself and from my destiny. I told Kevin a part of it when he run away and arrived alone here. Do you want to know the whole truth?"
Theresa's answer came immediately: "Yes, please tell it to me. I will listen."
It was not easy for Garrett to begin: "The first year after Catherine was the worst in my life. I couldn't barely eat and sleep, couldn't clearly think. I was sort of paralyzed, I didn't care for anything and I was angry with heaven, angry with my destiny. Then came the first anniversary of her passing and it brought me all the way down. So I run away and did so farther, much farther away than Kevin did."
He sighed. "It was not the road to nowhere that I took.
I went on to the road of no return, if you know what I mean."
Theresa paled, took both his hands and held them firmly, for she understood immediately. "I chose some cliffs, high enough and far away from here. I drove there, parked the car and walked on for another hour. The place was not meant to be visited, so I was sure I didn't see anybody. I remember, the evening was cloudy, there was a sharp and cold wind. I thought, so what! Just the right weather to put it all to an end. I bent over the abyss, spreading beneath me, just one last step ahead.
But then, the very moment I wanted to jump, the descending sun broke through the clouds and while everything around me remained in twilight, it dipped me in a beam of light. I turned around and felt the wind had almost seized at once. My mind was spinning and all of a sudden, believe it or not, I saw Catherine standing in front of me. I was the very first time that she appeared to me that way. I really got dismayed and was terribly puzzled.
She was looking endlessly sad, saying something like 'Garrett, please don't throw your life away: Go back. And if you don't see a sense for yourself, then do it for me, please.'
I was silly enough trying to get to her, to touch and to hold her. But there was nothing real of course, just my imagination I guess. And it was not over yet: Now I thought I saw my father's face appear. 'My son,' he said, 'what have I done to you that you want to leave me now?' There were even other fractions of memories but I can't remember them clearly. I only knew that I was going to loose my mind and started running back, ran till I couldn't any more. At last I sat down and cried like never before in my life."
Garrett couldn't avoid that a silent tear escaped his eye. He wiped it away with the back of his hand. "Definitely, this was some higher power that prevented me from going down for I have no other explanation. Finally, I went back to the car and drove home. The next morning was fine weather. I felt miserable but what I did was to go out and watch the sunrise. It was a beautiful one and somehow, I promised myself to go on, to tackle the challenge, to rearrange my life as good as possible and to accept whatever destiny would hold for me. I was, however, thankful that Catherine came to my mind every now and then and so I started with my messages that I sent to the sea. I never wanted to forget her, but I was hoping that I could eventually let her go some day, without bitterness just in the sense of a fine saying that you probably know:
'Sweet days. Don't be sad that they are gone, be thankful that they were'.
Every time I was really down, Catherine returned to me within a dream. She's like... how should I put it... she's always been like a mystic and healing power to me. Finally, there came the day when I realized that the misery was to a good part my own fault:
I almost drowned in self-pity!
That was my trouble, that's what I had to overcome and believe me, even if my father and, in her own way Catherine too never stopped to keep me up, without you I would still be struggling to no end with it. To Kevin I said something like you cannot run away from trouble because some day they would catch up with you and I know how they had caught up with me.
Life went on just the same. It wasn't always easy, mostly more struggling than going and every once in a while, falling down and trying to get back up again. That is until the day I met you and I sincerely thank destiny for this.
Now you know my story, my dark inside, it's nothing to be proud of. I have failed so much then and I would certainly understand if you should feel a big disappointment of me."
Theresa stood up and held him tight: "No, you have not disappointed me, not in the least. I am proud that you entrusted me with this. Believe me, I will be with you tomorrow. If you want to be sad, be it with me, if you want to cry, give your tears to me, if you want to go away, go with me. I know you will make up with the doom of the past now. Just let me be with you."
The candle light reflected in Theresa's eyes that were so quiet and self-assured when he looked in them. All at once Garrett knew what he had to do: "If this is really your wish, may I ask you then to do me a favor? Will you come with me tomorrow to see Catherine's gravesite and help me make it? I can't do it alone." Theresa's answer was deliberate and left no doubt: "Yes, Garrett, I will. But I'm tired, let's go to bed now."
They tidied up the table and went in. Silently, they prepared for going to sleep and when Theresa stepped into the bedroom, she remarked immediately two things: On one bedside table there lay her letter and on the other there was her unfinished picture which Garrett had put in a frame. He explained "Every time when I went to sleep, I kissed your letter. I wanted it to be that last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning." Theresa pushed him gently onto the bed and touched softly his stomach: "It's exactly what I did with your letter, my darling. Let me be tender to you now, let me be in your arms and let me float through your dreams." Garrett whispered: "You don't know how truly you are my kind of lady. Thank heaven for you."
Next morning, Theresa woke up from a deep and good sleep filled with sweetest dreams. Garrett wasn't awake yet and only her sweet kiss made him open his eyes. They were too late to see the sunrise but it didn't matter. Theresa knew they would have time now, from one single moment to a whole eternity. But right now, they had just one cup of coffee before they left for Brenda's home.
After the splendid breakfast, Jeb had another pleasant surprise arranged, of course without telling a word in advance. He invited all to take a boat trip to Wrightsville Beach with a lunch aboard. All agreed joyfully and there was indeed something wonderful in it. They were six people and for all of them, it was almost like a long lost, beloved one had returned. To all other people, they were nothing less than a happy family, enjoying themselves on a fine and sunny day. Brenda noticed with great joy and delight that Annie moved and spoke with a grace as never before. She was really proud to see this, the very first time her granddaughter was happy to the deepest of her soul.
Kevin felt great too, with Annie anyway. However, he sat there rather quietly and through his sunglasses, he watched the waves that sparkled gently from the reflecting sunlight. At last Theresa dared to ask: "Are you bothered with something, dear?" Kevin, while holding Annie's hand, answered rather thoughtfully: "No, mom, it's perfectly all right, thanks. I just thought that is was only a good three months ago that I found myself almost drowning in these same waters."
Wise old man that he was, Jeb agreed: " Yes Kevin, such is the sea: At all times, it has sung its songs to men. If you listen, you can hear them all: Songs of dreams and hopes, of going away and coming home. But also songs of unfulfilled yearning, of sorrow and despair and sometimes, alas, even the song of doom."
Annie turned around and was serious: "And which song do you think is the sea singing right now?" Putting his hands onto the shoulders of both young people, is was Garrett who replied: "Once there was a Frenchman. He was a pilot and also an excellent writer of novels. In his most famous piece, he wrote:
'One sees well only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eyes.'
I think there's something similar to the songs of the sea: From time to time, it plays a song that cannot be listened to with the ears, but only with the heart."
Theresa leaned closely against him. In this moment, all of them could hear it.
When they returned early in the afternoon, Garrett and Theresa parted from the others. They just said that they were to discuss some things in private. While Brenda just took the right guess about Garret's true intentions, Jeb was the one who knew well that for his son and for Theresa too, there would be arising the moment of truth.
He recalled when Theresa talked to him at the hospital, expressing her wish to be with Garrett on that unholy anniversary of Catherine's death. In fact, it was the last obstacle and in a way the most difficult that Garrett and Theresa had to overcome on their way to the future.
But he was confident and his eyes were quiet and unshaken when he said: "Now that I see you being so decidedly together, I know that you will make it! Go through it, for the sake of your common life that lies ahead. My best wishes are with you."
It's not always the spectacular things that really matter in the end. Sometimes it's enough that you don't forget that there's a promise to be kept.
To be continued.