If you have ever read the allegorical tale ' L'homme qui Plantait des Arbres' ('The Man who Planted Trees') by Jean Giono, or seen the 1987 Oscar-winning Canadian animated adaptation, you will understand the depths and textures of what follows.
I write this as a man more old than young, a man who has traveled, experienced, explored, suffered, known unspeakable delights .... a man whose adventures are mapped by the scars covering his body, by the fond memories he cherishes, and by the sacred friendships he is privileged to share with people scattered across the continent, the globe.
Now, as I near my 69th (!) birthday, I pause and realize that it has been nearly five years since the untimely end of my most recent intimate relationship. During that time I've begun the long descent into the many, many symptoms of Parkinson's Disease, the side effects of medications, and have learned to adapt as each new effect on my body, emotions, and brain functions reveals itself. When I add that to my already-impressive list of conditions and challenges, I wonder what woman in her right mind would even for a fleeting moment consider becoming my life partner?
Not that I've given up. It's not in my nature. I continue to keep myself, my clothes, my surroundings clean. With each laundering I still make my bed with tight military/hospital corners. I read with a starving man's appetite. I pay attention ~ to friends and loved ones, to my cats, to the political world, to music and art and film and books and weather and stars and all things beautiful. Perhaps most of all, I pay attention to the health of the garden planet I love so dearly. On a wider scale, my sentiment echoes Edward Abbey ~ "Desert, o my desert, yours is the only death I cannot bear."
Which brings me full circle to Elzéard Bouffier, the man who planted trees ~ someone else who, despite crippling loss and deep sorrow, never gave up. He chose a different path, and a solitary one ~ to leave the earth a better place than the one he found. His life was spent alone, yet he found a measure of peace and meaning, even in solitude.
As have I. And yet the thought persists ~ what would it be like, to once again share life with a loving, intelligent, playful, sensuous partner? A wonder and a joy. Also a small miracle, it seems. After all, what woman in her right mind would choose, even for a year, a month, a day .... me?
And yesterday I found resonance in a very similar sentiment poured into a short poem, published at an online poetry site by a teenage girl whose name I do not reveal, out of respect for her privacy. Here it is.
"Just One Last Kiss"
"I feel i'm losing you, you're slipping from my grip,
I can only hold so tight, before our hands slip,
I need you here by my side always, but if that's not your wish
Just give me one last love filled kiss..."
An image that haunts me. A desire that flickers but never dies. A question that echoes ~ what would it be like, to once again share love? I may never know the answer.
Nevertheless, I take pride in my appearance, keep my mind sharp and my heart open. Each day I shave very closely, because this could be the day when the stars align, the planet hesitates in its orbit, and I'm looking deeply into the eyes of someone whose desires and needs and passions in life mirror my own.
One last kiss? Or only the first of many? Hey, it could happen.