The paper stares up at me, daring me to mark it with my pen.
I swallow, my mouth dry.
I pick up my pen.
But there’s nothing there.
I don’t know why I do this.
Most of the time I can push down on this urge, ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist.
But not today.
Today it has overwhelmed me once again, driven me to the solitude of my room, pushing me to pour into words the memories, the way that I feel, and how very, very much I miss her….
My sons will tell you that I am not an artistic man.
They are right.
It’s not that I have no sense when it comes to art. I know what I like, whether I hear it or see it. I know that Virgil is artistic and has talent; it exudes from everything he does. John has an artistic talent, too. I consider it an art to take that most complex of subjects, astronomy, and put it into words that anyone can understand. The other boys have talents, too, perhaps not artistic ones, but their own nonetheless.
When I see something I like, I purchase it. Like that statue of the Thai dancer. I liked it, thought it showed the artist’s talent and bought it. The sculptor was struggling at the time. He struggles no more. He is sought after by kings and ministers of high estate to create for them one masterpiece after another. I saw his talent before he was considered a master, and I smile whenever I look at the dancer poised there on one leg.
Ideas? Ideas I have in plenty. I’m constantly jotting them down on whatever is handy. It used to be that I’d bring home linen napkins from the various restaurants where I would dine, covered with arcane bits of notes that sometimes didn’t make sense the next day. Now I have a data pad that I keep with me to serve that function. It’s been a lifesaver as far as my ideas are concerned. The notes now make sense… most of the time.
But this? Pouring out what I felt, what I still feel for my late wife, trying to put those emotions into a form that is meaningful and memorable? Nigh on impossible. Still, there are times when I attempt it. Attempt and fail miserably.
During our marriage, I brought home flowers. Sometimes wine or chocolates. I bought lots of greeting cards, picking them over carefully to find the one that said exactly what I wanted to say to her, beyond the three most important words: “I love you”. I would slip one under her pillow before I left for work, or stick it on her mirror where she’d be sure to see it. I very rarely wrote her letters, and I can count on one hand the number of times I actually wrote a love poem that I felt passed muster. She always cried when I presented her with one; tears of joy, she told me. She never asked for more than that. She knew what a struggle it was to put my feelings down on paper.
But today is our wedding anniversary, and today I am compelled again to try and describe her and how I felt about her. It’s a hopeless task. How can words describe the silky cascade of her hair as I ran my hands through it? Or the sweetness of her lips as they touched mine? How do I capture the warmth of her smile, the smile that was for me and me alone? How do I explain that sometimes, when I am on the verge of wakefulness, I still think I feel her warm body beside me in the bed?
Oh, God. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I let this compulsion overrule my sensible side?
The paper stares at me still, and I put down my pen. I will not take its dare today. Today I admit my failure before I even begin to try. I wipe the tears from my eyes, and I pick up her picture. She is radiant in the portrait, as radiant as she is in my dreams. Words can never, ever do her justice. They can never express my feelings in their whole.
I’m sorry, Lucille. No sentimental effusions of my heart today.
All I can tell you is, I love you.
And I miss you, far more than words can say.