Please Turn Around
12 Years After Ana Left Me
As I watch Teddy's soccer game from the sidelines, never destined to be a true part of it all, I can't help but yell my head off in encouragement along with the rest of the crowd. It's easy to hide and lose myself in a crowd of a few hundred excited people, and I treasure the ease of anonymity.
I fight back the small ripple of regret that wants to surface, the regret I still feel after being without my wife and son for the past twelve years. It isn't as pronounced as it once was, it's eased over the years and receded to become a permanent part of me, a part of me I live with, but I don't let it hinder me now, pain is nothing new to me, so can easily be managed and overlooked.
I dive head first and revel in the emotion that my son evokes in me every time I see him, pride, and it eases everything. For the past few years, it has fueled my resolve and kept me strong and determined to keep visiting here.
I'm proud of Teddy and everything he has achieved over the past few years. I still regret losing him every time I look at him, but that can't be changed or altered. I love him, lost him and sadly, he doesn't even remember me, doesn't even know I exist, no matter how close I get to him. As much as that may hurt me, I beat it down and ignore it, because I'm proud of my son, proud that he's grown into a fine, bright, studious young man.
I know this, because I haven't missed a second of it. I've been with him every step of the way and I'm eternally grateful for that chance. It was simple really, to be a silent part of it all. To be a witness to everything yet keep my distance. I've had every piece of his life handed to me on a serving platter... All because his soccer coach, is one of my guys.
When the job vacancy at the school came up, about six months after I found them, it was an ideal opportunity, one that I couldn't afford to miss. It was like a gift from the gods and I grabbed it with both hands. Teddy's interest and love of soccer was my way in, and I'm forever appreciative of that.
Former Navy Seal, Coach Micheal Scully, is my eyes and ears, he's kept my boy safe and protected, allowing him his freedom to grow up unhindered, and giving me the chance to know everything about him and remain sane.
Thanks to him, I have seen every school recital, play, concert, soccer game and everything else my son has ever been involved in. If I wasn't there in person, then I have a record of it on dvd. I have copies off all his report cards and records of all his accolades and achievements. I have witnessed his mind and body developing and I couldn't be prouder of my boy.
Coach Scully's family moved to Louisiana with him, they established themselves easily and quickly into the small community, and live just a few houses down the road from my wife and son. It couldn't be more perfect.
When the opportunities arose for them to genuinely befriended my wife and son, I encouraged it, and thanks to that opening, I've seen birthdays, Christmas's, camping trips and cookouts, the entire catalogue of my growing sons life, and I've been with him every step of the way.
I have my calender marked well ahead of time with his fixture list and I've managed to watch his every away game, his occasional home game, when the crowds are large like today and I can easily mingle, and it's been a joy to be apart of his life, if only as a constant unnoticed shadow. But I count my blessings as being without him would have been excruciating.
As the final whistle blows ending the game, my heart swells with pride as I watch my son being carried high above the crowd on the shoulders of his team mates in celebration. I catch Scully's eye and we share a discrete nod and wide grin.
I feel a light tugging on my arm and turn to look down at the smiling face of Scully's nine year old daughter Penny. As she hands me the video camera, I smile and ruffle her hair before she skips away heading back to her mom who will forever have my heart for recorded all aspects of the day for me. I smile after Penny's skipping form as she waves to Molly on her way. I owe that man and his family so much.
As I clutch the camera eager to flee and watch its contents, my eyes scan the crowd and rest on Ana just one more time before I have to go. It stuns me every time I see her how beautiful she still is, age certainly has agreed with her, and it brings a small genuine smile to my lips. She deserves the life she's had.
I've seen the freedom she's had and enjoyed whilst being married to Jake, and its done her good. I've contemplated often how she would have faired in my controlled, structured life and I don't think she would have truly been happy.
She's happy here, with the sun on her brow and the wind in her hair, breathing on her own, but selfishly, I still wish she was mine. I still love her more and more every time I see her, which I know I have no right to do. She belongs to another now, has done for a very long time.
I've hoped, wished and prayed, that it wouldn't work out between her and Jake, that he would turn out to hurt her in some way, so I could swoop in and save the day, but no, he's been a good husband and perfect for her. They have a good marriage by all accounts, and he seems like a genuinely good guy. She landed on her feet finding him and deserves to dwell in her happiness.
With a final contented smile, I walk away from the field and sneak back to my beat up truck that I still bob around in unnoticed. As I climb in I remove my baseball cap and take off my shades. As I sit in the cab poised to leave, I watch my son and his friends and family celebrate in the distance, all hugs and bouncing and cheers, but that's what comes with Teddy scoring the winning goal of the last game of the season. I just wish I could congratulate him, but who knows, maybe one day, and one day soon.
I pull my eyes away from the sight before me as I can only take it for so long, basking in their glow. Pictures are different and easier to look at, you don't see the true banter and love that's bouncing between them all in a still, split second picture, but when it's right infront of you with every sight and sound, well, that's a different story... Even after all this time.
I start the truck, leave the car park and head on auto-pilot back to the airport with my heart still at my feet, because even though I found them and have had the joy of watching my son grow and mature, he is still lost to me. Just like Ana is. I've watching their lives unfold to this point and treasured every minute of it, but it can be so painful sometimes when you have to witness the true happiness and love that they all share.
I've had a hole in my heart, my life, my soul, the size of a crater since they left me. To this day, I still regret everything that happened with Jess, and wish constantly that I hadn't of been so stupid and selfish, but then I wouldn't have Sienna in my life, and I love her dearly. So there is my silver lining. I cling to it everyday, because if I didn't, I would surely have lost my mind by now.
Sienna still gives me the love and focus that I need everyday to let things go. She helps me to bury the anger I still feel for the deceased Ray Steele, because with his passing a few years back, I never got the chance to confront him for tricking and deceiving me, and it grates me, despite my sympathy for Ana losing her father.
Sienna helps me keep calm when I'm with my family because I can never forgive Kate for reporting back every sordid detail of my life to Ana, which I'm sure she did, helping no doubt, to keep us separated and Ana's anger fueled.
I still believe to this day, that if I'd of been given the chance to talk to Ana and those two people hadn't of been involved, things would never have gotten this far. I wouldn't of lost them completely.
Sienna gives me the love and support I need to feel like I have a purpose. She's made me a living, breathing father, instead of just a shadow of one and I will love her until my dying day because of it.
As I board the Jet and take my seat, the Jet begins to slowly taxi towards the runway. The steward asks me just one more time for clarification that 'I'm ready to leave?' and I nod with a smile, recalling the many times over the years that I've called a halt to take off half, way down the runway, just to slither back to Ana's house and sit in my truck, in the rain, and watch the snippets of their life that I could see though their curtains. It has been torture and I'm a glutton for it, but at least I felt a part of it, at least I could feel close to her, to them. Even for just a short time.
I nod again at the steward as I switch on the small video camera that I have in my hand, and with a deep breath, I settle back into my seat and relax into the journey home, reveling in the sight of my son before me.
Apprehension and excitement ripple within me, fueled by the realization that this is one of the last times I will be coming here, everything is going to change soon, and it can only be for the better. It can only work in my favor.
Ted is graduating from high school a year early and will be going to college this fall, probably out of state and as much as that excites me, it also pains me, knowing that I'll have no chance of seeing Ana and Teddy together as frequently, or at all, but I have to bury my heart, my soul, my yearning for her and step away time after time, leaving Ana behind once again, no matter how painful, because it will be Teddy that I follow.
Ana will be safe, loved and protected here with Jake, she doesn't need me, I don't think she ever did. She's happy with her husband and other children, and I can't hurt her after all this time by interfering in her life this far down the line. I won't hurt her again, even though I regret every second that I'm without her. I still crave her every second, with every breath that I take, but she deserves to be left in peace, and I want to continue watching my son.
My heart and soul have been missing since the day she drove away and took them with her, and my life has been good in so many ways, but I still long for her, still yearn for her, still want her, even after all this time.
She can never be replaced and for that reason I have barely survived without her, despite my calm exterior. Honestly and whole heartedly, I've not lived, not loved, or enjoyed another woman since she left me. I never could. I've never wanted to.
Mom and even Mia, have both tried to set me up on blind dates and I have ventured out once or twice, but no joy ever amounts from those interactions. Every brunette falls short of my ideal and no blond ever appeals. Nothing compares to what I felt with Ana, no matter who I meet, in any situation, in any part of the world. It's a lost cause, so I don't waste time focusing on it.
I don't think I will love again, not without the beauty that was once my wife. I don't want to.
I absentmindedly circle my wedding ring that I still wear proudly on my wedding finger. I hear it clink against Ana's as her ring has never left my little finger, and I can't help but sigh heavily, because I know in my heart I will always be waiting. Always be hoping. Always be in love with her.
To my dying day, she is it for me, time has proven that, and I'm dying a little more each and every day without the love of the wonder, that was... and still is... Anastasia Rose Steele.
But a new chapter of my life is beginning, a new chapter that could possible involve my son.
He is flying the nest, soon to set out on his own, and as always... I will be shadowing behind him... and with him... every step of the way.