I love to collect anything blue and white. As a young woman, my grandmother gave me an antique blue and white hand painted vase. Over the years, she passed on to me blue and white tea pots, china, candle holders and more. I cherished each piece and had them displayed throughout my home. My blue and white collection had begun.
After a difficult time in my life, my sons and I had to relocate to another city. It wasn't an easy adjustment for me. I felt lost. I found myself having to start a new life; but I missed my home and being near family.
About a year later while walking my dog, I met one of my neighbors. I would have never stopped to talk -- I was too shy -- but my dog ran up to him. After saying hello and exchanging some small talk, I went on home.
About a week, later I ran into him again. We really enjoyed talking to each other. He was a long distance truck driver, so he wasn't home during the week. I looked forward to the weekends when he would arrive back home. During the next few weeks, a friendship had begun.
Larry was different than anyone I'd ever met. He was a big guy, built like a football player with broad shoulders. He was always smiling and talkative. He loved all sports, a huge Nascar fan and followed the Dallas Cowboys. He was pleasantly surprised to find I was a Dallas fan also. He was smitten the day I walked out in my Dallas jersey. After many months, we became inseparable. I had never felt this kind of acceptance before and it wasn't long before a romance had begun.
We enjoyed the holidays. On Halloween, we decorated the house with pumpkins and ghosts. We dressed in homemade costumes to greet the trick or treaters. He loved to scare them! At Christmas, we would shop for a fresh tree and decorated the outside with lots of lights. He loved to bring home gardenias, my favorite flowers, from his mother's garden. On my birthday, he would surprise me, hiding gifts around the house.
My favorite gift was two porcelain blue and white starfish. I had admired them in a shop we would go in together. We hung them on the wall beside a blue and white plate his grandmother had given him as a child.
We enjoyed the simple things, watching a great football game or having a cookout. We loved walking the dogs in the nearby field. We would walk, not even having to talk because we just enjoyed being together.
I had found him -- my best friend, my soul mate -- and life was good.
We had been together a few years when Larry began not feeling well. We thought he had the flu. When he did not get better, he went to the doctor and was immediately admitted to the hospital for internal bleeding. After a few days and many tests, we found out he had a serious problem with his liver. He was hospitalized many times over the next year and his health worsened. The doctors tried many treatments; but it became clear he would need a liver transplant. There is no transplant center near us, so he was sent a couple of hours away to a large hospital that performed transplants. After many months, he was finally placed on the national transplant list.
We were overjoyed, hoping he would get a liver soon and his health would return. Little did we know that we would wait for years, praying for a transplant to save his life. We were a team, fighting for his life. His health declined but he never complained. We never gave up hope. There were many obstacles to overcome. We changed transplant centers hoping for better care. Then he went into liver failure. He went through an experimental treatment in a last-ditch effort to possibly move him up the transplant list. The treatment failed. The only hope was a transplant. He had been listed over four years, but it was not to be. After his last hospitalization, he was sent home to die. Everything was happening so fast, there was no time to prepare. He died the day before his 50th birthday.
A week had passed since Larry's death. The phone had stopped ringing and people had stopped visiting. I was alone in the house, cold, physically exhausted and in a state of shock. I was sitting in the dining room when the front door opened and Larry's mother came in. She sat down at the table with me. We were both overcome with grief. I remember how quiet it was in the house. I told her I would not be able to go on. I did not want to live without him.
All of a sudden there was a loud crash. We both were startled and jumped up. There on the floor lay one of the blue and white starfish. It had come off the wall where it was hanging, hit a shelf and then the floor. Larry's mother picked it up. It was not broken, not even a scratch. We were both so shocked at what had happened. She looked at me and said, "He is here." At that moment, we could feel his presence in the room. He was here with us. I had no doubt that he had made the starfish fall to let us know he was still here. There was a sense of comfort, and I knew it was an amazing sign from him.
About a month later, I was still not coping well. I was lost and devastated. I made it through each day, but it wasn't the life I wanted. I missed Larry so much and couldn't bear to be without him. I called his mother on the phone and told her I was sorry but I did not want to go on living. I was in too much pain. She was so upset and came right over. We sat in the living room and I cried and begged her to understand and to let me go.
The next thing I knew, there was a crash in the dining room. Larry's mother jumped up and went into the dining room. She came around the corner with the starfish in her hands. Again, it had come off the hook on the wall and fallen to the floor, unharmed. I knew it was Larry reaching out from heaven to let me know he was still with me. I know our bond is not broken, our love will continue until we meet again. He is not gone.
© 2012 by Deborah Hare