Seems that as the full moon approaches every month…the closer we get to the solstices, my mind and heart are flooded with nostalgia. This morning was no different. After some much needed time in the woods, I settled down onto the outdoor sofa in the courtyard with my cup of coffee. The sun was smiling down on me and the breeze was softly kissing my ear. I was in a half daydream, half napping state. I found my mind drifting lazily back to Charlotte, NC in the late eighties. I could feel my soul being pulled back to a three storied home in one of the up and coming South Charlotte neighborhoods.
I can remember the sounds of Bette Midler wafting through the air as we all sat around the lawn drinking gin and tonic, bloody mary’s, sweet tea. A group would be conversing in one corner, another group playing badminton in the area furthest back. There were gays, straights, transgendered, bisexual…every type of human relaxing and enjoying the long southern days offered to us. As the day danced into evening, the music became softer and the small Christmas lights strung in trees and overhead would begin to glow a soft white. Our hosts had kept the grill going for most of the afternoon, so no one had the occasion to be allowed to feel the grip of hunger.
I always seemed to end up in one of the hammocks hanging between two large trees as others scattered lawn chairs around me. Conversation always seemed to turn to what adventures life could bring or what magick really entailed. No. This was not a coven of witches, but just a group of friends making the most of their youth. As I lay there waxing philosophical, Jim would come in behind me and hand me an ice cold drink and then stabilize the hammock as he lay down beside me.
We would lay there for most of the evening, making plans…laughing at the mistakes we had made. All of our older friends would tell us that they were living vicariously through us…that it was nice to see two people so in love.
My mind also drifts back to daily life with Jim. Was he the love of my life? Yes. Are we allowed many loves of our lives? Perhaps. In those days, I was working corporate. We would get up in the morning and make breakfast together…he always made sure I was greeted with a kiss and a hot cup of coffee. After breakfast, we would maneuver around each other as we got showered and dressed. He always said that I looked so handsome in my shirt and tie….he said I looked like a corporate version of Freddy Mercury. He was a nurse. I do so remember how he filled out those seal blue scrubs. Mercy!! He was an ex-marine and his frame was 6’4″, brownish-blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, muscles in just the right places. We would kiss good-bye…always careful to say ‘I love you’ before rushing to start the day.
I normally made it home first in the evenings, so I would start dinner. I can close my eyes and feel the warmth of his body pressing against mine just after he walked in the door. He always stood against me, his arms wrapped around mine, nuzzling the back of my neck. On days that I would get home late, I would always find a bouquet of sunflowers on the table and a card that read, “Simply put, you make me feel wonderful. Jim.”
You see, Jim had been diagnosed with HIV before we met. I can still see the wonder in his eyes when I asked him out and he told me that he was positive. I had been working with a local AIDS task force whose work included helping, working with, and doing whatever was needed for those in our community with AIDS. I sang at far too many funerals in the eighties and stood in as surrogate family for too many who had been turned away by their own…but then again, this was what was needed. Yes, this was in the beginning and yes, I was scared, but the possibility of missing out on someone like Jim scared me even more.
I was there through the drug cocktails. I was there as the T-cells climbed and dropped, climbed and dropped. I was there when the lesions began. I was there when his eyesight began to fail. We laughed and talked through it all….but always careful not to go too far into the future with our plans. I remember one of the biggest belly laughs he ever had. One of his guinea pigs had gotten loose and proceeded to chase me around the living room ( I have always been horrified by rodents. Any rodent.) As I run around the room like this tiny wad of fur is going to eat me, Jim is rolling on the sofa. Sometimes, I would love to hear that laugh again.
Our last week together, I found out that Jim had done some dreadful things…things that would still end up effecting me to this day. I remember the night that I confronted him. We are at a bridge in Charlotte on the 4th of July. We had met earlier at our friend’s home. He greeted me with a bouquet of red, white, and blue flowers. I had so much anger in me, I couldn’t even look at him. We walked in silence to the bridge. As the fireworks started, so did ours. I let the anger that had been lurking just beneath the surface lurch forward. We cried….I screeched. He begged forgiveness. He pulled me to him and kissed me and I jerked away. I walked home that night. It took me two and a half hours.
I got home and Jim was in bed. His breathing was funny. He had been coughing more that week, but I was wrapped up in anger. As we slept, his breathing became more labored. I called an ambulance. They came and got him. I watched through the coming weeks as machines breathed for him. When his family came in….I was pushed out of the way. I was relocated to the place of ‘roommate.’ Then there was the pain and anguish that he actually was not there anymore. In one instant…gone.
Jim knew I was studying witchcraft. He often joked about him being Darrin and me being Sam from Bewitched. My Darrin had been taken. I retreated to my woods on the old farm back home. Over the years, I have dreamed about him constantly. He has come to me in times of trouble, fear, even stress. He offers comfort. I even believe he orchestrated many things between my partner, Jay and I. Jay and I began our relationship on July 4th…exactly ten years after that night on the bridge. I am the one who does the protecting and comforting now…Jim did it the whole time we were together.
I wonder how many witches can say that their spirit guide is their last lover? I was sitting in the living room with my roommate the other night watching a tv show. As we are watching, I am sitting there wiping my eyes. My roommate says, “You are dreaming about him again, aren’t you?” I told him I was. He looked at me and point blank asked what I was holding onto. He wanted to know what I haven’t forgiven myself for. As I wrote this blog, I realized that I have not forgiven myself for not telling him I loved him on that horrible, horrible night. I haven’t forgiven myself for not listening…only yelling. I haven’t forgiven myself for walking away from him that night and not holding him tighter.
As I write this…I feel the tears streaming down my face. I feel his presence behind me…trying to tell me that he never believed for a moment I stopped loving him. I have a lump the size of a tennis ball in my throat and my heart hurts as badly as the night he slipped into the summerlands. Tonight is the night that I have to forgive myself….to release the chains that have held me prisoner for too long. Tonight isn’t about Jim. It is about me and repairing what was broken years ago.
I don’t write this blog to wallow in the past, but so the future may be more magickal…that my life may now be fuller…that there may now be rest.
Sleep well, my prince. Sleep.