Rayna stood behind the large, ornate front door, just now seeing its details for the first time. It was a thick, heavy, wooden front door carved with such finite details that only a true craftsman would see or could understand. The ovals were carved into leaves and the lines carved into branches and the birds were carved into various positions, from nesting to sitting to flying. The door truly was a masterpiece.
and this is the first time she had noticed. Or appreciated it. She wrapped her arms around herself as guilt coursed through her body. She remembered the long nights and many hours her then fiance spent in the wood shop creating this masterpiece. At that time she was jealous of the time he spent with his other love and wished he would rather come inside, hold her, or simply watch a movie together.
Instead, she spent her hours on a stool in his wood shop watching him, often times with her fingers cold and stiff, watching her love do what he loved best. In the beginning she found it fascinating, she thought it was such a wonder to behold, that he could imagine such beautiful things and bring them to life.
Years of sitting on the stool started making her bitter. She didn’t want to be cold, not thinking that he, too, was willing to sacrifice for his craft. She didn’t want to eat alone while he finished a particular area of the scene, not thinking that his stomach had to also be screaming for food. She didn’t want to miss social events so he could get the project finished in time to start another, not thinking that he, too, missed his social life and was driven by forces beyond his control, forces leading from deep within his heart to complete the art.
She remembered the day he hung it. They replaced the big box store door with his craft, and she was there to help. It was awkward, heavy, and she had no idea what she was doing. He remained patient and did his best to direct her, but she walked away feeling annoyed and frustrated. When it was finished, she gathered herself enough to take a picture of him with it fully installed, and then she wanted to throw the camera at him.
Now, though. Now her body ached intensely. She had cried all her tears, and no more would pour. But she wanted them to. She wanted to feel alive, but all she felt was empty, dark, petty, and alone. So very alone. Never again would he walk through this door. Never again would he take an extra moment to appreciate his own handiwork before taking off his rain clad jacket or shoes. If she wasn’t careful, she feared, the memories of him would be as evanescent as his short life on this Earth.
Never again would he…and then it overwhelmed her. Her heart broke for the thousandth time this week. Her chest heaved, and a lonely, heartfelt howl escaped her lips as she pressed her hand to the wood. Tears somehow seemed to surface again, and they poured over her cheeks like hot lava. She let them roll. She let them heat her cheeks as they pooled onto the floor. Feeling something was better than feeling so empty. Or was it?
She ran her hand over the feathers of one of the birds etched onto the door, and it was flying towards the sun. Much like her husband had done earlier this week. On his way home from work, during rush hour traffic, he had gotten caught up in a multi car wreck, and his body was unable to survive the injuries he had sustained. His strong, virile body was broken, cut, damaged and he most likely suffered immensely, alone in his car in the freezing cold those final agonizing minutes of his life.
She liked to think that his pain was short lived, that he hadn’t feared his death the way she would have. She liked to think that God brought his hand down to him and helped him fly towards the heaven with the ease of the birds in his artwork. She liked to think he flew happy and free to a place free from harm to continue his beautiful artwork from a far better place. A place where it would be appreciated and loved as much as she loved him and he loved his art.
She held her hand to that particular bird as her sobs subsided and her tears slowly turned to a drip and then sputtered away. She slowly took time to trace the intricate feathers, stroked the head, and knew that his hands had been there, making those one in a million strokes, feeling closer to him now than she had in ages.
It seemed to flood life back into her body. Touching that bird that now represented her husband, seemed to fill her with peace and good memories. Memories of all the jokes they had shared in that cold wood shop and memories of all the fun they had at the department stores picking and choosing the particular tools of his trade.
Yes, there were times she wished she could go back and replay them with the wisdom she now had. Instead of being jealous or hurt or feeling neglected, she would be bigger, stronger and wiser for him, more supportive and loving of the one thing he loved nearly as much as he loved her, especially because his time was going to be so limited. \
In truth she didn’t want to change a thing that she could have. Throwing a fit over the dumb door installation had lead to passionate, grateful love making. He had not been upset about her overly dramatic reactions, he instead took advantage of them in the giant king sized beg that he had designed the head and foot boards for. Instead of complaining about his cold fingers during those long winters, he playfully chased her around the shop trying to warm them under her shirt. It was those reasons that she loved him, his zeal and zest for life, his easy going personality and his passion for a craft that many people benefited from.
No, he didn’t leave this world without a trace. He had left many imprints on the hearts and homes of those he loved both by his many acts of kindness and by the physical reminders he left behind. She slowly pulled her hand back from the carving and wrapped it back around her body. She would never be the same. She would always miss him to the point of physical pain. She wasn’t sure she could ever heal or move on or any of the other things people said to pacify her. But she could appreciate his art, and she knew that would put a smile on his face, all the way into Heaven.