True Love

 

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True Love, A Flash, True Love.

 

“Melissa was unhappy in her marriage. Dave had started out as a good enough lover; attentive, patient, even inspired in his displays of affection, public and private. True love had wrapped up their wedding. Everyone had been happy with the fit and the toasts rang clear on what a cute couple they made. But within a few short years the wrapping had come off and Dave looked more like a toad with each passing day. He lost interest in Melissa and retreated into an endless stream of television sports. Melissa talked of starting a family, but Dave, when he talked at all said he wasn’t ready. Melissa smoldered as she waited for something to happen.

 

A trip north to visit the Michigan relatives had been a tradition for Melissa since she was a little girl. The family would follow the lakeshore on US 31 from Benton Harbor past Holland, Muskegon, Ludington, Manistee. A little north of Manistee they would pick up the scenic, winding M-22 as the sand dunes rose along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Looking out across that expansive freshwater sea always kindled feelings for Melissa; longing, hope, desire, and on this particular trip with her reluctant, sports addled husband in tow, a sense of isolation bordering on dread.

When the weather was fair one of the uncles would rouse a group for fishing on the big lake, and even though the late August air was sticky and close, the cumulous clouds looked majestic and benign as uncle Bert launched his fishing boat. It was a boat without any frills and no protection from the sun or rain or anything else from above. A twenty-four-foot aluminum deep vee with high gunwales, a center console for the helm, two bench seats forward and one aft, powered with twin merc seventy-fives, it was a capable enough boat for near shore voyages on the big lake.

Melissa rode in the bow facing astern. She declined uncle Bert’s offer of coffee from the thermos he held above his head at the helm. The last thing she wanted was to have to pee in the coffee can that served as the head. Not that they wouldn’t avert her eyes out of respect and consideration, but still, privacy was another frill not to be found on this boat. Dave rode in the stern holding a fishing rod up into the wind as they motored out beyond the breakwall of Frankfort harbor.

The first silver salmon flopped at Dave’s feet in the bottom of the boat just minutes after Dave had yelled “Strike! Fish on!” Melissa had watched with enthusiasm as her husband battled and finally landed the fish. A boyish grin had flashed across his face revealing that hopeful, present man she had fallen in love with three short years before. Then a blinding white light exploded around him.

Melissa’s arms flew up to cover her face. Uncle Bert froze crouched at the wheel. The pungent smell of ozone filled the air and reminded Melissa of the electric train she used to play with with her brother. A deafening silence hung over the boat as rain dappled the dark waters.

Dave lay back against the outboard motors with one shoe off. Both his eyes were pinned open in a startled unblinking stare. A black streak lead from above the hairline on the right side of his head to his cheek. The wound which was actually a gash from the lighting strike began to ooze blood. A rivulet of thin red blood seeped from each of his ears.

Dave was dying. Melissa cried his name over and over amid sobs. Uncle Bert fumbled with his cell phone trying to reach help. Dave would be dead before the orange Coast Guard helicopter arrived from Traverse City. He was dead before the wire basket was lowered by a cable from above. He was dead before the rain stopped and the dark clouds rumbled eastward over the dunes. He was dead while the silver salmon, the only one landed that day, flopped with a thunk on bottom of the aluminum boat. Dave was dead and Melissa was a widow.

What happened next was that the automatic rituals that surround a death were put in motion. Networks spread the word among family and friends. The usual variety of professionals intervened to take care of business; the physical remains, the legal loose-ends, the emotional needs. Of those professionals, the only one who figures prominently into this story of true love is the preacher named Erik.

As often happens at such times, his simple kindness led to a conversation that lasted through their respective coffees and covered many of the events leading up to and immediately following Dave’s death. Phone numbers were exchanged and Erik promised to check in with her the following day. Which he did.

Thereby Erik became involved in supporting Melissa as she buried her husband and began the next part of her life. He made the trip to Indiana for the burial. Following the funeral long phone calls became the daily routine. The hole of grief left by the loss of her husband, even with all his shortcomings, was obvious and unavoidable. Melissa drew Erik into the empty parts of her life during those calls and subsequent visits.

As the weeks, and then months passed, Erik’s role changed from concerned confidant and helper, to cherished friend, and then beloved, and Melissa drew him into other parts of her life, too.

Erik was a lot like Dave. He was attentive, patient and even inspired in his displays of affection. At the wedding everyone thought Erik and Melissa made a cute couple and that theirs was true love. But Erik was different from Dave in many ways too. One of those differences was that he desired to risk making a family with Melissa, and as that hope grew along with the child in her womb, Melissa was happy in her marriage again.”

From:  True Love, A Flash, True Love, Your Inspirational Stories.com.

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