Love Never Dies – Chapter 10

Ava Addams

Ending a loving relationship, particularly for the second time, is more complicated than disconnecting a phone call. Over the previous thirty-plus years, memories of Gaynor had frequently popped into my mind. Something or somewhere – a smell, a sight, a song – triggered recollections. But now, this second time around, I couldn’t get through even one single day without thinking about her. Maybe it was because it was all too fresh, that it had just happened. I tried recollecting whether it was like that in the early days after our first parting. I suppose I hurt back then but I couldn’t feel that pain, not like now. I was listless, didn’t have the energy or inclination to do anything. I went on to automatic pilot, drifting aimlessly and pointlessly through days and nights. Quite pathetic for a man of fifty-eight years. Perhaps the torment was greater this time because I knew Gaynor was only a few miles distant, a phone call or text or e-mail away. I knew where she lived, where she sat and slept. But she eluded my fingertips and my eyes and ears. Physically, she had gone but, mentally, she was still very much inside me. Every day. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Christmas is a time for family and ours was only small. Neither Veronica nor I had surviving parents and we were the only offspring. So, our family “invaders” this year, were our twin daughters and their husbands. A gathering of six adults to enjoy the festive cheer. Veronica was always in her element as a mother-hen and hostess and, by mid-December, everything had been planned down to the last walnut. We decorated the house with gold, purple, red, green and silver trimmings. The tree was resplendent with baubles and lights and brightly-wrapped parcels surrounded its base. Happy families, indeed. Our daughters arrived late morning on Christmas Eve and our eldest (by all of two minutes!) surprised Veronica and I with one of our best Yuletide gifts: the news that she was pregnant. Our first grandchild was on the way! That lifted my spirits and confirmed my place in the universe as a family man. Perhaps I’m not typical of the species, I thought, but, hey, I’m still here in the nest.  In the build up to the season of love and goodwill, I had posted a Christmas card to Gaynor. Why not? And, on Christmas morning, I even sneaked into the seclusion of my office and sent a “Happy Christmas” text to her. I didn’t get a response. A card I didn’t expect but I hoped, deep down, that she might respond with a text message. I was disappointed. Okay, I’d agreed not to be a stalker – but sending a card and text at Christmas… come on, where’s the harm? On December 28, the girls and their husbands departed after lunch for their homes in the north. The date is burned in my memory because I also received a text that afternoon. It was from Gaynor and simply said: Hi Richard, have sent e-mail x x My old heart skipped a beat. Gaynor was in touch again. Weeks of silence had been broken and I was suddenly invigorated, bounding up the stairs and fairly racing into my office to boot up the computer. Fortunately, Veronica was answering a call of nature in the bathroom and I didn’t need to explain my sudden burst of energy. When she emerged, she wouldn’t be surprised to discover that I was ensconced in my office. My fingers tapped impatiently on the desk top, willing my home page to appear. When it did I clicked on my inbox and saw I had thirty-seven messages and Gaynor’s name was at the top of the menu. Putting on my spectacles, I opened it and read: Subject: Us Hi Richard (no, sod it) Dear Richard You’ll probably be wondering why on earth I’m writing this after saying we should end all contact. Well, I must admit that I half-expected you would send a Christmas card. In fact, I would have been upset if you hadn’t sent one (yep, I know, silly, contrary cow!). Anyway, thank you and you’ll see I’ve put an attachment here. It’s my attempt at a Christmas card. Late I know, but I wasn’t sure what was happening with you. I guessed you’d be with family, either here or with bursa escort your daughters someplace. Shit, I’m rambling already. Nerves you know. Right, to the reason for this message (reasons actually). First I want to clarify my need to call a halt to our meetings. I told you I didn’t want any more trauma and that, of course, referred to our past. I thought we’d put it behind us but, I’m sorry, I suppose I carry the scars and they’re very deep. Not your fault really. It’s just how I am. Let me say I am glad we met again (after all, I started the ball rolling) and the things you said meant a lot to me. It goes without saying that I enjoyed the intimacy but I just felt that, if we carried on, we would cause a storm that we couldn’t control. Truthfully Richard, I am too old to go through major upheavals and the possibility of wrecking your marriage and family life was too much. I decided it was better we stopped before someone got hurt. And that includes me. In fact, mostly me. Which brings me to my next point. This Cold Turkey business is fucked up. The times I’ve gone to send you a text or e-mail, well you wouldn’t believe me. God knows how, but I resisted. Then I started thinking, where’s the harm in a few written messages or the odd phone call? I’m not going to ask you what you think because I know how much you wanted to maintain some contact. It was my choice to sever all contact and, being honest here, as hard as it’s been, it might still be the best option.  I’m not sure that any renewed contact could remain platonic and at a distance. Honestly, Richard, do you? Think about it before you carry on reading. (I diverted my eyes from the screen and thought for a few seconds. I decided that some contact would be far better than this ball-aching nothingness. But would it stop there? Could I talk on the phone and not want to hold her, look into her eyes, make love to her, feel those petals parting for my tongue, my fingers and thick erection? To smell her fragrance, sit with her, walk by the river and… oh, bloody hell. I looked back to the screen and continued reading) I’m guessing that your answer is that something’s better than nothing but, deep down inside, perhaps not even that deep, you know it wouldn’t be enough. You see, Richard, I’d thought about all that before I met you that last time. Hence, Cold Turkey. It’s worked, up to a point. But only to a point. I do miss you and instead of getting to feel better over this past month or so, I’ve got worse. I can’t eat, I’ve been vomiting on a regular basis and I look like a bag of shit. I feel like a bag of shit. Okay, it got so bad, Charlie went behind my back (she does that, you know!) and arranged a doctor’s appointment. She even drove me to it (I don’t think I could have driven, I feel so rotten. It was the first time I’d been out of the house for ages). Oh my, this is taking for ever to tell you, isn’t it? Well, the upshot is, the doc reckons I might have gall bladder problems. Next step is the hospital for tests and all that stuff. I have an appointment on January 4 at 10am. Charlie has said she will take me but, here’s the crunch bit, I’d prefer it if you would come with me. Charlie’s great, we’ve been best friends for ever and, of course, we’re both nurses (once a nurse, always a nurse. No such thing as an ex nurse). Anyway, I know it’s asking a lot and I’ll understand if you decline (posh word for telling me to get lost). Oh, so why am I asking you? The reason is quite simple. I feel safe with you, protected and warm. I know you love me and I’ll need all the love I can get at the hospital. I am a scaredy cat and yours is the best hand I can hold. Okay? So, I’ve made contact. Please don’t think it’s only because I want your help to the hospital. Charlie is quite capable of taking me and you would never have known, would you? Really, I suppose I’m reaching out to my soulmate one more time. Either way, please let me know what you decide by this cyber space stuff or the phone. Love, Petal (okay, you win, no butterfly bursa escort bayan wings this time) xxx I removed my spectacles, rubbed my eyes (was that a tear trapped in the corner?) and reclined in my chair. I sighed heavily. I replaced my spectacles and reached for the keyboard. No! I looked at my phone laying on the desk next to the computer. I rose from my chair, walked along the landing to the bathroom and had a pee. After washing and drying my hands, I went downstairs where Veronica was in the lounge watching a film on the television. She glanced at me as I walked into the room but quickly went back to the small-screen entertainment. “I’m getting myself a coffee. Do you want anything?” “Uh, uh, no thanks. I’ve got a glass of wine here,” she said and lifted the glass as if to show me she was telling the truth. I left the lounge, firmly closed the door, made a mug of instant coffee in the kitchen and returned to my office. Door closed, I settled back in the chair, picked up my phone and scrolled to GR on my contacts. After three beeps, I heard, “Hello, Richard, thanks for calling.” “I thought it would be quicker than e-mail,” I said. “How are you?” “Not good. I’m scared, my stomach’s all knotted and I’m living on liquids. Fruit juices and yoghourts and piss-weak tea. Can’t even drink coffee, I bring it straight back.” “That sounds terrible. How long have you been like it?” Gaynor yawned in my ear. “Oh, sorry about that. I’m also bloody tired all the time. I keep falling asleep, just nodding off for ten or fifteen minutes at a time. Then, at night, I can’t sleep at all. And my attention span’s up the spout. I can barely watch the TV, definitely can’t read a book and the only thing left is the radio or CDs for some background noise… Oh dear, I’ve forgotten, what did you ask me?” “How long have you been ill?” “Oh, yes,” she said and then sighed. “A long time, months. It started not long after we began meeting. I told you I wasn’t feeling too good and was off my food. Remember, I’d be hungry and then couldn’t each much.” “I remember, yes.” “Well, like I told you in my e-mail, instead of improving after our split, it’s got worse. At first, I thought it was because I was still all knotted up inside, not about our meetings any more but this time about breaking up. I mean, I was distraught about it, you know. Anyway, Charlie convinced me that there might be something physically wrong, not just nerves or worry.” “Right, I see,” I said. “So the doctor thinks you’ve got gall bladder problems? Will that mean an operation?” “I don’t know. Most likely. But that’s why I’m booked in at the hospital for tests and scans, whatever they want to do with me. Quite honestly, I hate hospitals.” I couldn’t help laughing. “It’s true, Richard,” she said, a little chuckle in her husky voice. “I suppose it’s knowing what goes on behind the scenes that does it. And we nurses are very critical, you know.” She paused briefly, then asked in a quiet tone, “Will you take me to the hospital, Richard?” “Sure. You say your appointment is for ten. That means I’ll need to make an early start.” “Oh shit,” said Gaynor. “I didn’t think. Will that be a problem? I mean, with Veronica.” “Don’t worry about that, I’ll think of something. I’ll get to your house by nine. That should be okay, yes?” “Mmm, fine,” she said. “Thanks Richard. I feel better already.” “Wish it was that easy.” “Yeah, well…. anyway,” her voice suddenly lifted, “what did you think of your Christmas card? I’ve never done anything like it before.” I realised I hadn’t opened the attachment and I reached for the mouse. “Tell you the truth, Gaynor I haven’t looked yet. I read your message and then phoned straight away. But I’ll look now.” “What? Are you phoning from home? I told you never to do that.” “Whoa, slow down. It’s okay, Veronica’s out,” I lied and clicked to open the attachment. The picture was of a snowman with a robin perched on a shoulder. “That’s lovely, thank you,” I said. “It’s an old picture I painted years ago.” “You escort bursa painted?” “Yep, told you there was lots you didn’t know about me. Anyway, you’ve got it. I didn’t add any words in case someone else saw it. Can’t be too careful.” “Okay,” I said and was aware of the lounge door opening. “I’d better go, I think Veronica’s just coming up the drive.” “Okay, Richard. Thanks and I’ll see you on the fourth. Love you, byee.” “Bye, Petal.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Golf and Mick came to my rescue again. The fourth was a Tuesday and, because of the shorter daylight hours in winter, we usually teed-off early. Veronica had no reason to suspect anything. If only the rest of the day had gone as smoothly. At Gaynor’s house, I let myself in and found her sitting in a chair in the bay window. She wore black leggings, black knee-length skirt and a white long-sleeved blouse, buttoned up to the neck. A winter coat was draped over the arm of her chair, her tote bag and another valise-style case at her feet. At first glance, she didn’t appear ill at all. She looked at me and smiled, dazzling white teeth lighting up the room. “Hi,” she said softly as I crossed the room. “Hi,” I said and bent to kiss her lush lips. It was an appropriate greeting kiss, nothing amorous. “Why the case?” “Ah, I didn’t mention I might be kept in. Sorry Richard. I was told to be prepared for an overnight stay. Hope not but…” she shrugged, raising her magnificent bosom. “Right, I see. Are you ready?” “In a minute, there’s something else.” She pointed to the vacant chair. “Sit down.” I sat and she reached to hold my right hand in her left, squeezing lightly. “I wanted to tell you this face-to-face.” She looked into my eyes. “I didn’t tell you everything on the phone but… well, when I went to the doctor he gave me a thorough examination, pushing and poking and he came up with this gall bladder prognosis.” She paused. “Then I told him that I’ve got a lump in my left breast. Had it for some time. Well, he had a feel and that’s when he started talking about detailed tests and scans. To be quite honest, Richard, I tuned him out. I didn’t really listen because I have my ideas about what’s wrong with me.” I was shocked, couldn’t speak. My mind couldn’t absorb the possible seriousness of what Gaynor had just related. Gall bladder removal is one thing but lumps in her breast? Cancer? In her beautiful, magnificent mounds? No, not possible. I shook my head slowly, hoping some bits of sense and understanding would fall into place. “Don’t be alarmed, Richard,” she said. “We’ve got to wait and see what they find at the hospital. They’ll sort me out.” I smiled; well, my lips twitched. “Yes, of course they will. But, lumps in your breast, that’s a shock, Gaynor.” “Lump not lumps,” she said with a smile. “Come on, don’t worry. Let’s get going.” ~~~~~~~~~~~ It took an age to go through the hospital paperwork and I noted that Gaynor gave Charlie as her next of kin. When asked, she referred to me as her best friend and gave my phone number as an alternative should Charlie be unavailable.  We waited for what seemed hours before Gaynor was called to the X-ray department. And then we waited some more, holding hands and talking about nothing in particular. To be honest, I felt lost. I just couldn’t understand what was happening. By early afternoon, we’d been shuttled to various departments, Gaynor had spoken to and been examined by different white-coated staff while I sat in corridors or ante-rooms. Then came the dreaded words: oncologist team. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Gaynor had a myriad of tests, X-rays and scans on the second day. On the phone in the evening, I was patched through to Gaynor’s ward and someone at the nurses station told me that she was comfortable but tired. She was awaiting results and would be spending a further night in hospital. I asked them to tell her that I’d called. Minutes later I received a text from Gaynor:  Bloody exhausted. Charlie’s been and my head’s spinning now! Will text tomorrow. Love xx Gaynor didn’t text. In mid-morning she phoned. “Just say it’s a wrong number if you can’t talk. Can you come at two this afternoon?” Veronica was actually shopping at the supermarket. “It’s okay on both counts. Yes, I can talk and yes, I will come to you. How are you now?” “Much the same.