ABOVE THE CLOUDS
Above me the clouds floated in cream and grey, shielding me from the sun and sky. Or so thought I. But there were such pictures in my my mind, and a sound in my ears, that allayed any fears that the world was closing in on me. Quite the opposite as you shall see. On the soft grass of my garden lawn my body lay. It was a lovely sultry day and, through my headphones, I could play a piano concerto that outshone in beauty any grey-painted summer’s day. And, through my head and ear I could picture Lucia and her soft loving smile. What had I done to deserve such a combination, if only for a while? Permit me to tell you.
You notice I said that I wondered why I deserved my peaceful, tranquil reverie. Yet deep down I knew that any joy I might enjoy was due solely to the way another person loved me. Bright smiling, dark haired, laughing eyes had captured me and taken me upon a journey through the gates of any heaven that earth could boast. Of all the pleasure I had known Lucia was the most, and in her way the gentlest, comforter of every indisposition I had suffered. When pain or depression threatened it was she who buffered me. Lucia in all, was that protecting wall that kept me happy, sane and able to live with myself.
Have you ever placed yourself upon that creaking shelf which is the last resort of any sort for those who have lived as they knew that they ought not? I have, and as I sadly approached the edge of that last hiding place, not even I could face the victims of my egotistical life, in which I twice lost a wife, two children and a friend. In every case the end was death resulting from doing what I advised or asked. My first wife in Vietnam died in a mortar attack with our baby daughter, while strolling in a park I told them was quite safe. My Korean wife and my second daughter died three years later, driving their car too near a volcanic crater. As in my previous nuptial separation I said the road was fine. How on earth could I devine the trembling of a mountainside would coincide with their journey? And Jim, too, took my instructions to cover a fire fight in a war, but never saw his mission’s end as the helicopter in which he was flying failed to negotiate a bend in the tall trees. He, and three others, died in the ensuing crash.
Thus, at the age of thirty four, once more I felt the lash of loss when enjoying being the all-knowing boss, I pointed friends and beloved people to their coffins, to be blessed under some foreign steeple. I was tearing my heart out in regret in a small church in a Tuscan town when Lucia first perceived my frown. Seeing my tears she quietly knelt down in the pew in front of me, praying quite still until I finally arose to leave my grief in God’s house and hands. She followed me to the door and then, before entering blinding summer light, she quietly asked, “Are you alright?”
Perhaps the hardest emotion with which to deal is being struck down by love of another person only minutes after dwelling on the lives and loss of others to whom you had been amorously attached. The love in Lucia’s eyes was not so much a surprise as gift I felt I could not accept. By loving twice I had already lost, to my shame and the cost of any self esteem, five people who meant everything to me. And now a sixth stood before me. How could I expect her to adore me when I told her my life’s story? Without saying a word she took my hand and accompanied me to my nearby villa. We were married within a month and shared each other’s happy memories and sorrows. Oh yes! She too had suffered, had watched both her parents die slowly from agonising illness. But, lying here on the green grass in the stillness of our villa’s lawn, I took off my headphones as she lay down beside me. Then she told me, “Caro mio, I believe a child will soon be born to you and me. Imagine how happy we shall be?”
Touching my fingers, she pointed to the sun, shining at last through a break in the shroud of cloud. And so I knew it to be true; every love comes from above.