An escape, grief, and a re-grounding: A story of renewed strength
The door slammed behind me once again, as I ran from the world I knew all too well. I needed an escape. I felt as if my mind and my soul were being smothered. I jumped in the car and started down the long drive, not knowing where I would end up, but knowing anywhere would be better than here.
Night had begun to fall, and as the miles that separated me from home increased, I began to relax. It seemed as though my car knew where to take me, because the drive was effortless. I ended up along the narrow road adjacent to the river. It was one of the roads I had driven daily as a teen. I hadn't been on this road for years. My life now, as a young adult, was too busy to take time out for joy rides. I had deadlines to meet, assignments to submit, exams to prepare for and an employer to appease.
I smiled as I drove past the places that I'd spent so many evenings, parked with friends along this road. I had lost touch with some precious memories, but they seemed to be flooding back, filling my heart. I pulled over underneath a familiar gnarled tree and got out. The wind had started blowing and I could smell the impending rain. Pushing my hair out of my eyes, I ran to the tree and searched the trunk. It didn't take long for me to find what I was looking for. ‘Lorna & Mark- True Love Always’. Time and weather had faded the words, but they were still there. Tears came to my eyes as I traced the words lovingly with my fingers. This was Mark's favourite spot. I turned and walked towards the river and my tears seemed to act as a cue for the rain to start falling.
I sat on a rock, eyes closed, listening to the sound of the raindrops meeting the river. I felt his hand cup my cheek and his lips gently touch mine. His scent was mixed with the smell of the fresh rain and I could feel his warmth next to me. I didn't dare open my eyes, instead, I slid my arms around his neck and kissed him the way I'd kissed him four years ago. Tears slid down my cheeks as we embraced. I had spent years trying to forget how his arms felt around me, and here they were again, stronger than ever. I could feel the need in him and I wondered if he knew how badly I needed him, too.
The rain was coming down in torrents now, but it didn't matter. I could feel his warm breath against my skin as he kissed my neck. I ran my hands over his strong chest, and through his hair. Even soaking wet, I remembered the feel of it, the feel of him.
A loud clap of thunder forced me to open my eyes and I realised that I was alone with my memories.
The accident hadn't happened far from here. The road winds along the river and the girl driving Mark's car that night wasn't the first to miss the hairpin turn. The car rolled and the driver's side was crushed. They said the driver died instantly, but Mark held on for a few hours. Those few hours seemed like an eternity. He had been so young, and I hadn't known how to say good-bye.
For four years I've tried to replace the memories of that night with memories of better ones, memories of his smile, his kiss and of the wonderful person that I had come to love. I closed my eyes again and remembered Mark introducing me his friends as "the one." I wondered what my life might have been like had Mark not died that night, four years ago. Would I really have been "the one?"
As I got up to leave, I felt a warmth envelope me. I blew a kiss to that old gnarled tree as I climbed, soaking wet, into my car and was on my way home.
Thank you, Mark. You were always there when I needed you.