I'll meet you on the other side
I'll meet you in the light
If only I don't suffocate
I'll meet you in the morning when you wait..."
-Keane, Bend and Break
Life with our girls. We got the game for them at Christmas and it was an instant hit, something the Mama (what I lovingly call my wife) and I played as children.
This time I was the yellow car and I took the college route and became a secret agent, making $100,000 per year. And when I landed on buying my first house, I bought a houseboat. Super cool.
The Mama arrived at the get-married "stop" first.
"I'm going to marry a girl this time," she said.
"You can marry a girl?" our oldest Beatrice asked.
"Yes," I said. "And boys can marry boys."
"Yes, I knew that," said Bryce, always wanting to be the one in the know.
When I arrived at the get-married "stop", I said, "And I'll marry another man, please."
"You can marry a boy?" Bea asked.
"Yes, he can," answered Bryce before I could.
We went on with Life, spinning the wheel and moving our cars forward. When it came time to have a family or not, we all chose having children.
"How can you have children?" Bea asked us both, having a basic understanding of biology since the Mama had already had an early "talk" with her because she had asked specifically where babies came from.
"Because we can adopt children," the Mama said.
"Yes, you can adopt them," Bryce echoed.
Life moved on and we played as long as our attention spans held out, just like we do every time we play the game, and each time our lives having their own unique experiences and nuance along the way.
Then we were off outside in between the rain, letting the girls ride their bike (Bryce) and scooter (Beatrice) down the small hill above us super fast to the street below, of course watching out for cars coming down our one way street, because we're good parents like that, and because life moves pretty fast, a Ferris Bueller reference that will be lost to future generations (unless they watch the movie, which our girls will someday).
I looked at the Mama and loved her more in that moment than ever before. I've found that, over time, I fall in love with her over and over again, something that continuously reinforces the spiritual connection we share, and the expanding interconnected growth we've experienced for over 20 years now.
We both share a greater belief in a spiritual plane that interconnects everyone and every other living thing -- me believing more in a benevolent God (force) than her, but she's coming around. We've been talking a lot more about God of late, listening to Oprah's Super Soul Sundays and taking the non-traditional Christian path to our "two halves make two wholes" spiritual truths.
I grew up an evangelical Christian, the Mama did not, and even though we've never seen eye-to-eye on how to approach the subject, we are now talking about what God means to us with the girls, and the concepts of love, gratitude, acceptance, forgiveness, mindfulness and much more. Certainly not my mother and father's conservative Christianity, but it still conveys the essence of that progressive New Testament love, the one where we are all each other's brothers and sisters, regardless of race or gender or social status.
We also believe we've been proverbial soulmates for many lifetimes, something that's not everyone's cup of relationship tea. It's our cup of tea though, and we've come and gone out of each other lives over a millennium (or more), sometimes as husband and wife, and maybe other times in different relationships as different races, genders and having varying social statuses, helping each other and empowering our spiritual growth.
Shake your skeptical head if you must, but mercy me, I've had a lot of crap to work through life after life (maybe I was really a secret agent, too). We've made it this far...and sometimes I daydream about what may happen later in our lives this time...
There's a song by a band named Keane called "Bend and Break" that was released in 2004, the same year the movie The Notebook was released (we did read the book first). While the song isn't a traditional love song, not like the many others the Mama and I share, the movie is heart-wrenching love story about a husband reading their life journals to his wife who suffers from dementia.
Ever since then, and every time I hear that Keane song, I have this recurring daydream about 30 years from now when the Mama suffers from dementia (just a fantastical daydream folks), and the spiritual visions I have, that if I get her to the place we met that one day on the beach 50 years earlier, where she came up to me and said, "So, do you always come here alone?" -- that she would remember the first moment of us (this time) and all that we've shared together, and only then could we move on to the next life together.
Our girls in this fantasy future, now women, one married to another woman and the other to a man, and both with children of their own (it doesn't matter who is who in the daydream; the iteration changes every time) -- they both believe that I'm losing my own mind the more I rant about taking the Mama to the beach, that I can save her and the memory of us.
Then a rare but fierce October storm makes landfall on the anniversary of the day we met (and the same day when we were married in 2003), and the storm surge has swamped the beach where we met. I sneak out from my eldest daughter's house, who I live with at that point, and I get the Mama from her assisted-care facility. I then bring her to the cliff above where we met on the beach all those years ago. The sky is bruised with heavy clouds and the wind howls and the rain pelts us like water bullets. The Mama looks at me for the first time in years and smiles. I start down the rickety stairs to the beach below.
Our girls discover what I've done and call the police and there's a climatic scene of sirens and flashing lights atop the cliff along West Cliff Drive. Someone is shouting from a bullhorn.
"Dad! Come back here! Don't go down there! You'll drown!"
It's our daughters. We can barely hear them now that I'm near the bottom of stairs and the wind and rain are so loud. The beach is being washed away over and over again with crashing waves. I struggle to stand straight while carrying the Mama.
"Dad! Don't! Please stop!"
"Mr. Grossman, please stop where you are and we will come get you!" shouts someone else from the bullhorn.
I hesitate, but I have to move on, because I know it's the only way she'll remember it all; all our lives together and our future that relies on this one seemingly suicidal action; this redemptive baptism I'm compelled to give us both to keep our love alive; this hopeful romantic I am.
A wave washes back from the spot on the cold sand where we met and it begins to glow gold like the banished sun above. The Mama hold me tighter and smiles again. The glowing gold spot grows bigger and bigger, swamping us like us like the frigid sea, but it's more warm and inviting, almost hot like the day we met.
"So, do you always come here alone?" the Mama asks, her voice again vibrant and young.
"Yes, yes I do," I answer. "Except this time I brought a bunch of people with me." I nodded my head to the cliff above.
Her eyes fill with tears and then the rain washes them away. "Damn, Sweetie, you're supposed to be the crier."
"I know. I still am."
"What about the girls?"
"They'll be fine, Mama. You did good."
"So did you."
"Yeah, but I certainly wasn't perfect."
"No, you weren't."
"Just kidding, neither was I."
"Well, what do you say -- let's do it again."
"Yes, let's do it."
And with that, I step into the light with the love of my life.
Happy Birthday, Mama! I love you!