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Introduction:

While suffering a heart attack, Brent relives the loves in his life.
With-in the confines of chapters one and three, Brent, while experiencing a heart attack, will relive the joys and tragedies from the three loves of his life. Please accompany him on his journey sharing his laughter and tears. I hope you enjoy the read. All characters in this story are eighteen years of age or older.

Although this can stand alone, I would suggest reading 1, and 2 before reading 3.



My Lost Loves, Chapter 3

My body convulsed as another bolt of excruciating torture shot through my chest. I was losing ground and I knew it. My only hope was to get to my phone in the house. I could feel the cold breezes getting stronger as daylight was slipping away. My left side was numb. I used all the strength I could conjure up to twist my body onto my stomach. I looked up, the ten feet between me and the steps to the back porch looked like a mile. I reached out using my fingers as a claw, digging into the frozen ground, and trying to pull myself toward the house. I could feel myself drifting in and out of consciousness.

“Ooh, look how beautiful.” Sandy, I could hear her voice. “God has his paintbrush out again, and I have the pleasure of watching with the man I love.”

Blocking out my pain, my mind drifter back to that early spring morning so many years ago. The sun hadn’t been up for very long but already the birds sang with glee knowing the day ahead would be filled with magic and wonderment.

Funny, after divorcing Kris, somehow I thought time would stop, but it didn’t. Year by year the girls grew up into beautiful, intelligent young ladies. With our children as the common link, Kris and I were never far apart. I bought a condo just two miles from the house and for many years the girls would stay with me on the week-ends. Sometimes Kris would ask me over to help Brea or Catherine with their homework, or to assist with some household project, and I always obliged.

Three times over the last nine years Kris asked if there wasn’t some way we could be together again, but that would never happen. I still loved Kris and knew I always would, but the pain of her betrayal was still there as well. It was as if both the love and the hurt lived side by side with-in my heart, one never being able to cancel the other out.

On this particular Sunday morning, however, all I was thinking about was beating my three buddies in eighteen holes of golf. I was on my way to join them at our seven a.m. tee time when I absentmindedly made a wrong turn. I didn’t know it at the time, but that wrong turn would change my entire life.

My new convertible was only a month old and this was the first day I was able to drive with the top down. With the wind in my hair and the first tee waiting, I was enjoying my leisurely drive and didn’t realize my error in navigation until I was a couple miles down the wrong road.

Dang it, I said to myself, get your head out of the clouds and watch what you’re doing, Brent. I turned left into the first driveway I came to so I could back out and go back the way I came. As I pulled in I noticed the cutest little cape cod style house in front of me.

A quick scan of the shabby looking yard told me the place was probably empty. What a shame, I thought. I put the car in reverse and tuned my head to start backing out of the drive; that’s when I saw it, a for sale sign. I’m not quite sure what came over me. I had a perfectly nice condo that had been my home for many, many years. I did not need a house, yet it was like some powerful, mystic force that made me grab a pen and paper and write down the agents name and number.

As soon as I met my friends at the course all I could talk about was the darling little house I saw on the way there. One guy in our foursome, just before sinking a twelve foot putt, reminded me of the added maintenance I would have with a house. I agreed. There was no reason in the world why I needed to buy a house. We stopped at the clubhouse after the front nine for a cold beer before finishing our round.

Once again that strange, almost supernatural force pulled me to the pay phone in the hall and I found myself dialing the number I took from the sign.

“Hello,” answered the female agent, “Sandy speaking.”

“Ah, hi Sandy,” I said just remembering it was Sunday. “I’m sorry, I was calling about the little house for sale on Herlitz drive, but I should probably call you during the week.”

“No, I don’t mind.” She said. “Are you interested in the house?”

“Well to tell you the truth, I wasn’t even looking for a house. I just happened to see the place by accident this morning and, ah, well thought maybe I’d just like to take a look at the place.”

“Sir, may I…

“Oh I’m sorry,” I apologized, “please, call me Brent.”

“Okay Brent, thank you. I was going to ask the size of your family, the house isn’t very large you know, although you could finish the basement for more living space.”

“Ah, well I really don’t have a family,” I said, “well, at least not living with me. I’m divorced and my two daughters live with their mother. I live in a three bedroom condo right now, and from what saw, I’m sure its bigger inside than that.”

“Okay, When would it be convenient for you to meet me at the house? I’d be happy to give you a tour. Out of all the houses we have listed, that little place is my favorite,” she told me, “I just love it, if I could I‘d buy it myself.”

Normally I would take that as a sales pitch but she sounded so sincere when she said it. “Ah, yeah, actually getting together might be a problem. What hours do you work? I work in the city and, with the traffic and everything, I usually don’t get home till past seven. Do you work on the week-ends or no?” I asked.

“Yes of course I do. What are you doing right now Brent?”

“I’m at the golf course,” I answered, “I couldn’t leave here until we’re done playing.”

“Well, would you be able to stop off on your way home?”

Not only did I want to see the house, but now I wanted to see the woman behind the voice so I agreed to meet her at the house on my way home. As I pulled into the drive for the second time that day, I saw a little Honda Civic up by the house so I pulled up behind it. I took one look at Sandy as she got out of her car and my heart skipped a beat.

Since the divorce I really hadn’t dated very much. I did have one six month relationship but there was really nothing between us so I broke it off. I guess I just kept comparing every woman I met to Kris and there wasn’t one that came anywhere close to her in any category.

Kris was even worse. She hadn’t had a single date since we broke up. Between our neighbors, mutual friends, and the girls, I knew that as a fact. I told her I didn’t expect that and she should go out and have some fun but she remained hopeful that we would someday be together again and would not do anything to jeopardize the possibility. In the mean time, she would devote herself to raising our daughters.

Sandy extended her hand to greet me. The first words that popped into my head were, ‘what a woman!’ She was elegant, almost regal in appearance, yet extremely friendly in her demeanor. A guy could easily get lost in those deep blue eyes and she had a smile that would warm a naked Eskimo. It took me a few nonchalant glances but I finally saw there was no wedding ring. My heart fluttered just a little more.

As she took me through the house I could see that her statement about loving the place was not just a line, she really did. Her face just beamed as she took me from room to room pointing out all things that made the house special.

I thought I had seen everything there was to see but Sandy kept the best for last. “So what do you think so far?” she asked with that radiant smile.

“I love it, I really do. When I saw it this morning there was just something about the place that was drawing me to it.”

“Good. I was hoping you would like it. I don’t really know you but I have the feeling you would be very happy here. But wait,” she said taking my hand and starting toward the back door, “you haven’t seen the best part yet.”

Sandy led me out to the back porch. It was a pretty large wooden porch but the best part was, to the left of the door, was a wonderful two person swing strung with four chains from the overhang. “Come on,” said Sandy with excitement, ‘come and sit on the swing with me for a minute.”

You couldn’t tell from the front, but the house actually sat on a hill. As you looked out over the back yard you could see a grove of trees in the distance and just beyond that was a small lake.

“I come over here by myself sometimes and just enjoy sitting in this swing and watching the beautiful sunsets over the lake,“ said Sandy. “It’s so quiet and peaceful, the only thing that could make it better would be the enchanting music from a wind chime hanging right over there.”

I already knew I was in love with the house and was going to buy it, but now I found myself developing feelings for the woman sitting next to me. “Well,” I said coyly, “you can come over and sit on my swing any time you want.”

She turned her head, looked deeply into my eyes, and gave me a small smile. “I knew it,” she said, “I knew it as soon as I saw you. This house and you are the perfect fit.”

“So, what do I do with my condo?” I asked.

“Where is it?”

“About twenty minutes south of here,” I told her.

“Well, if you still have some time, I could take a look at it, take some notes and list it for you.”

“Don’t you have a significant other you have to get home to?” I was fishing.

“No,” she said. “I’m divorced as well, have been for many years. I do have a son but he’s in college right now so my time is my own.”

“In that case I’ll make a deal with you.” She gave me a questioning look. “When you’re done going through my place and taking all your notes, you let me take you out to dinner.” She hesitated but not for too long.

“Alright, you have a deal.”

While Sandy looked around my condo and took notes I grabbed a quick shower and changed clothes. I really wanted to take her some place really romantic but we had known each other for all of three hours. I didn’t really think that would be appropriate but I hoped I would get that chance at a later date.

We wound up at a nice little Italian place that Sandy recommended. The food was good but it was the conversation I found fascinating. Neither of us talked about our former spouses but we did talk about out kids. I, or course, pushed out my chest when I talked about Brea, my oldest, who was already sixteen and would be a senior in high school next year. Catherine, my fourteen year old, was also in high school and already starting to talk about boys.

Sandy told me she had one son, Ron. He was a sophomore in college and was studying for an engineering degree. I don’t think there was anyone around our table that couldn’t tell we were both very proud of our kids.

The conversation finally got around to ourselves. Sandy asked what I did for a living and seemed to be impressed when I told her I had my own photography studio.

“Really, wow would my son like to meet you. Photography is his hobby. It’s been a passion of his since he was a small boy. He just loves it. If we get a chance this summer, maybe I could drive him down town and you could give him a tour of your studio?” she asked. “It would make his whole summer.”

“Absolutely,” I said, “just give me a heads up so I know you’re coming and I‘ll have the red carpet down for both of you.”

“Actually,” she said a little hesitantly, “please don’t take this the wrong way, but it surprises me a little, I would think you must have a lot of artistic talents to be successful in that field, yet your condo is decorated rather sparsely and with very basic furnishings.”

“Yeah, I know,” I said a little embarrassed, “both of my daughters are always after me to spruce the place up. You’re right, I‘m extremely creative in my work, but I guess I’m just a pretty simple guy when it comes to my living quarters.”

“Well,” said Sandy, “I took some classes for interior design in college, not enough to make a living at it, but I do have a good eye for what works. You know how I love that house so if you’d like a few tips from time to time, just let me know. I’d be happy to help out.”

Wow, I thought. I know an opportunity when I hear one. “How much would you charge?” I inquired.

“Oh I wouldn’t charge you anything Brent, don’t be silly.”

“No, I don’t mean for a few tips, I want you to be my interior decorator, the whole house, everything including finishing the basement. What do you say?”

She looked stunned. “Brent that’s a great offer but I’ve never done a whole house before. I’m not sure I’d know where to start. No, thanks, like I said, it’s a great offer, but I’m just not that good.”

“Sandy I saw the look in your eyes when you took me on that tour. You love that place as much as I do, you have experience, training, I can’t think of anyone I would rather have. Maybe we could even work on it together. Please, at least think about it. It could be fun for both of us.”

Sandy promised to think about. We talked just a little while longer but it was getting late and we both had work the next day. We had taken two cars so I walked Sandy to hers then reached my hand out to shake. She took my hand but stepped in closer and gave me a peck on the cheek. It surprised me, but the bigger surprise was the erection growing in my pants. I wondered if she could see me blush under the parking lot lights. She smiled then drove away.

There were only two people in my life that ever gave me a hard-on that quickly and that easily, Tanya, my highs school sweetheart, and Kris. All the way home I wondered, was it just that it’s been so long since being laid, or did it mean more, did it mean this was someone special.

For the next week I talked to my banker and got my finances all lined up. I wasn’t going to tell anyone about the house until I closed on it. Sandy and I got together a couple times for paper work but she always seemed to be all business and I was beginning to think I misread any signals I thought I saw that night at dinner.

Everything went smooth as silk and thirty days after I had been sitting in the swing with Sandy the house was mine…well, mine and the banks. I picked up the phone and called my daughter. Brea picked it up and sounded so mature as she said hello.

“Hi honey, how’s my girl?”

“Hi Daddy, I’m just fine. I got an ‘A’ in my history test today,” she said all excited. History was one of my favorite subjects and she knew that would please me.

“Fantastic honey, I am so proud of you.” We talked a little more about school then I broke the news. “I was wondering what you guys are doing over the week-end? If you’re not doing anything important would you want to help me move?”

“Move? Daddy where are you moving to?”

“I bought a house honey. It’s not far, it’s only about twenty minutes away.”

I heard Brea yelling to her sister and Kris, “Hey, dad bought a house.” Through the phone I could hear everyone’s shock. Between her sister and her mom, Brea was trying to answer a dozen questions.

“Honey,” I tried to get her attention back, “Honey, tell Catherine and your mother, if they want to see the house, they have to first come over to the condo Saturday morning at seven and help me move some things over.”

Brea repeated what I said and I heard Kris say, “Tell him we’ll be there,” which Brea relayed back to me again.

After saying our good-byes, I had no longer set the phone down when it rang again. I answered with my usual business greeting.

“Hi,” I recognized the voice as Sandy’s right away.

“Hi, how are you?” I inquired.

“Okay, I just wondered when you were going to be moving?”

“Saturday morning,” I answered, “I have a small truck rented and my kids and a couple of friends are going to help me.”

“Oh I see. Well I was going to offer to help but it sounds like you have it covered.”

I was really getting mixed signals from this woman. First she seemed like she might have been interested but when we sat down to sign the papers she was all business, almost cold. Now she’s offering to help me move? I don’t get it. All I knew was that I liked her a lot and I wasn’t going to turn down spending time with her.

“Hey, I can always use more help,” I said trying to sound as inviting as possible.

“Okay, I’d love to,” once again her voice sounding very friendly. “I have something for you anyway. I forgot to give you the spare set of keys.”

“Well I’ll tell you what. I know you live up there. No sense in coming all the way down here just to go all the back up there. I figure we should be there about nine o’clock. Why don’t you just let yourself in and wait for us there.”

Sandy agreed and I had everything all set for the move. By the time Saturday morning rolled around I had everything packed and sitting by the door. Between the six of us we had the truck packed in a little more than an hour. I thought we would beat Sandy there but as soon as I pulled in the drive I saw her car up by the house. As we walked in we all smelled the aroma of fresh coffee.

What a great surprise. Sandy already had the java brewing. When we all followed our nose to the kitchen we found she had pastries already sitting out on the table for everyone. I had only seen Sandy in her business clothes and was very impressed with the cute ass I saw covered in blue jeans.

Sandy turned around when she heard us approaching. “Good morning everyone,” was her delightful greeting complimented with a big smile. “I thought you might be hungry so I stopped at the bakery on the way over for some goodies. Everybody dig in.”

Before everyone sat down I introduced Sandy as my real estate agent. She joined us for breakfast and fit right in like she‘d known everyone for years.

As soon as everything was in the house my two buddies took off which left Kris, the kids, Sandy, and me. The girls were busy running around having fun rearranging all the furniture every five minutes while the three of us talked. Finally Kris told the girls it was time to go.

“This is a darling home Brent,” Kris said as I walked her to the door. While we were still waiting on the girls, Kris lowered her voice, “I didn’t realize you were seeing anyone,” she said a little sadly.

I saw just the slightest evidence of moisture dulling the color of those beautiful green eyes. “We’re not really seeing each other Kris, I do like her, but so far all we’ve done is had dinner together.”

“Ah huh, that’ll change, take my word for it. I saw the way she looked at you. She cares for you…a lot. We women just know these things. She is very nice and I’m sure you guys will be very happy together.” Kris, trying to keep me from seeing, tuned her head away as she wiped a tear from the corner of her eye.

Just then Brea and Catherine came running up. Both Sandy and Kris were very cordial saying good bye. Of course the girls were their usual bundle of energy all the way out the door.

Sandy and I were finally alone. I wondered if Kris was right. This is the first time I’ve felt like this about a woman since my divorce, but could I really open my heart again, or would I chicken out, afraid of being hurt for the third time.

“Sandy, thank you so much for all your help today. Fresh coffee and breakfast was sure a great surprise. How much do I owe you for all that stuff?” I asked.

Sandy playfully hit my arm. “Will you stop, you don’t owe me for anything. I should be thanking you for the commission I just made on this place.”

“Okay, well let me take you out for dinner again then.”

“Not like this,” Sandy said indicating her working clothes.

“Yeah, actually I should shower and change as well. Okay, give me your address and I’ll pick you up in an hour.”

She looked up at me. I could tell she didn’t know if she wanted to do that or not. Finally she spoke up, “Okay, do you have a pen and paper? I’ll write down my address.”

For the first time in a very long time, I sang to myself in the shower, something I usually only did when I had a woman in my life. I drove over to the address and found it was a town home. A quad I believe they call them where every unit had a corner lot.

Again, every time I had seen her before Sandy had been dressed for business, including her make-up. When she opened the door and invited me in I was taken aback. Her soft, shiny blond hair framed her face perfectly as it cascaded over her shoulders. The small cocktail dress she wore hugged every curve of her slim body. She wore just a hint of make-up bringing even more depth to those deep blue eyes.

“Wow,” I exclaimed, “Sandy you look incredible.”

“Thank you,” she said sounding a little surprised, “I’ll take that as high praise, in deed, from a man who works with models all day.”

Once seated in the restaurant we, pretty much, picked up the conversation where we left off before. “Can I ask you a personal question?” Sandy asked.

“Of course.”

“A blind man could see how much Kris still loves you. Why are you two divorced?”

I really wasn’t ready for that question. I didn’t talk about it because the subject always brought tears to my eyes. “Ah, well it’s actually kind of hard to talk about, Sandy, even after all these years.”

“Ah, infidelity rears its ugly head again,” Sandy said. “I thought that might be it. I won’t ask any more. The same thing happened with my husband. He was a sales manager for a fastener company. Five years he worked there and never had to work on a week-end. Then, all of a sudden, he had to work every week-end. Sometimes just Saturdays but other times Saturday and Sunday. I got suspicious and borrowed my neighbor’s car one day to follow him. I saw him walk into an apartment so I just camped outside the door. About three hours later he opened it to leave while still kissing his girlfriend, a young redhead. When he saw me waiting for him, he just closed the door and didn’t bother coming home again. Ron, my son, was only eight years old at the time.”

“I’m sorry,” I said sympathetically.

She looked at me as if studying a road map on my face. “I’m going to be honest with you, Brent. I still remember the hurt from that as I’m sure you do from your break up. I have not found a man in all these years that was worth risking that kind of hurt again. I like you, Brent, I like you a lot, but before I’d be willing to go any further I have to know about your relationship with Kris. As I said, she is still in love with you and I think you still love her. Is there any chance of you two getting back together?”

“Sandy, we’ve been divorced now for over nine years. Three times in that period she has asked me if I would come back. You’re right, I do still love her, but I can not, nor will I ever, get over the pain in my heart. She knows that and I know that. No, we will never be together again.”

I took a sip of coffee and continued. “Sandy, from the first time I laid eyes on you I thought you were someone very special. You’re the first woman in all these years that I have had feelings for. I think you put it best when you talked about finding someone worth taking another risk, I found that person and I‘m hoping she feels the same way.”

Sandy reached across the table and put her hand on mine. She moved her head toward me and lowered her voice almost to a whisper, “Am I the first girl to give you a hard-on with just a little kiss?” she asked with a sweet, demure smile.

I must have turned ten shades of red. She said that purposely to embarrass me and she sure succeeded. “You caught that?” I asked.

“Of course, us ladies on the prowl don’t miss much,” she said slyly. “If you’re done with your coffee why don’t we go back to your house and see if you remember what to do with that thing.”

To say I was worried on the drive home was an understatement, intense fear was more like it. I hadn’t made love to a woman in years.
Try as I did to act casual and confident, my efforts fell well short.

“Are you nervous?” asked Sandy.

“Ah, yeah, I guess I am a little. How about you?”

“Yeah, a little. How long has it been?”

“Years,” I answered honestly. “But you know what they say, it’s just like falling off a bike.”

I wasn’t sure why Sandy was laughing. “Don’t you mean it’s like riding a bike?” she said with a chuckle.

“Oh, yeah, I guess that is what I meant,” I said really feeling stupid. Then, in an attempt to redeem myself I added, “Do me a favor though, if I do fall off, will you put me back on?”

“You got it cowboy,” she responded with a laugh.

Wow, this was beyond fantastic, I thought. Here I am spending the first night in my brand new home and I’m spending it with the first woman I’ve had feelings for in years. As we entered the house a strange calm came over me. I just knew everything would be okay.

Once inside the door Sandy and I faced each other. I took her in my arms and softly pressed my lips to hers. I felt no anxiety, no reservations, I felt only affection, a warmth I had honestly thought I would never feel again.

Those feelings became even stronger once we were in the bedroom. I unzipped the back of her dress and caressed her neck as I slipped to top of the dress off her shoulders and let it fall to her feet. I reached around her soft body and pulled her close. I could feel her passion as it invaded my own body. She turned, wrapped her arms around me neck and kissed me hard. She opened her mouth and our tongues met each teasing the other like an ancient fertility ritual. I undid the clasp of her bra and slid it down her arms. I gently felt her breasts as I knelt in front of her. I tenderly lowered my hands down the side of her hips and hooked my thumbs in each side of her silk panties. I could feel her whole body quiver as I lowered them ever so slowly.

There, only inches from my face was the trimmed mound of the woman with whom I was falling in love. I lightly slipped my hands up the back of her legs till I reached that fine little ass I admired earlier in the day, I leaned in and planted a kiss on the pussy I knew I would cherish.

Sandy’s body tensed as she gave out a small sigh. I felt her hands on the back of my head and I started to explore every crease and crevice of her love center.

“Oh God, oh God,” she said with a breathy voice, “it’s been so long, so long. Yes, yes my love, please make love to me, please.”

I picked her up in my arms and laid her on the bed. I undressed and knelt on the bed with one knee, then lowered my lips to hers. I kissed her neck as she swooned with lust. “I want you inside me baby,” she whispered, “please, I need you inside me now.”

The years had been kind to both of us in that department. My cock was like a bar of steel and when I reached down to feel if Sandy was ready, I was amazed at how wet she was for me. She spread her legs and I pulled mine together positioning myself. Sandy reached down and guided my throbbing shaft into her warm velvety soft canal. She gasped in anticipation as I easily slid inside her.

It had been so long since I had experienced the intimate feelings that only comes from making love to someone you deeply care for. With each loving thrust I felt Sandy’s body as it lost control to the rapture of the moment. She closed her eyes and arched her back. She twisted around in a euphoric explosion of excitement as she locked her legs around me and held me deep with-in the confines of her hot pussy. Together our intensity built into a crescendo of fiery passions culminating in our joint screams of ecstasy and we climaxed in unison.

I collapsed my sweaty and spent body next to hers. Neither of us said a word as we allowed our breathing to return to normal. Sandy was the first to break the silence.

“Wow.”

“Yeah, I’ll see your wow and raise you a, ‘Holy Cripe.’” She giggled. “How do you feel?” I asked.

“Ha, ha. Well, I feel scared I guess.”

“Scared…still?”

“Yeah still. Even more so right now,” she admitted. “I hadn’t realized until we made love, just how strong my feelings were for you. I’m scared I’m allowing myself to become too involved too quickly. When I thought about pursuing this relationship I told myself I would go very slowly, very cautiously. Instead I allowed myself to jump in with both feet. Yeah, I’m scared.”

I took a minute and thought about her words. I guess I felt somewhat the same way. I turned my head toward hers and kissed her. “My darling, my feelings for you are real and they run deep into my soul. I can’t believe I am lucky enough to find love again, but now that I have, I am not about to let it go.”

I was hoping for conformation of her love as well, but it did not come. She kissed me and smiled. “Let’s get some rest, honey. Tomorrow we can do some shopping for your new home. Oh, did I tell you, I’ve decided to take you up on your offer. I’m going to help you decorate.”

I told her how happy that made me. We kissed and slipped into dreamland, although mine was fraught with disappointment that the disclosure of my feelings was not returned.

The next morning, still half asleep, I reached for Sandy but came up empty. My stomach started to twist in knots thinking she had left. Just then I smelled coffee. I smiled to myself and decided I wasn’t going to pout about not getting Sandy to say she loved me last night. I was just glad she was still there.

We spent all day down town shopping for things for the house. Mostly smaller items. I needed some new living room furniture as well, but that would have to wait for another day. By the time we got home we were both beat. Sandy jumped at my suggestion of ordering a pizza for dinner.

While savoring a Chicago style deep dish we continued to talk about what more we needed for the house, but as was the case all day, we also laughed and joked around with one another. I couldn’t remember when I’d had more fun or enjoyed someone’s company as much.

As the day started to come to an end Sandy took me by the hand and walked me out to the porch. “Come on,” she said, “let’s sit on the swing and watch the sunset.” As we sat and watched, the sky started to change. The dark blue of night hung like a curtain over an ever varying array of colors. As the sun dipped closer to the horizon, hues of red, orange, purple, pink, and turquoise magically stretched from one end of eternity to the other.

“Look,” said Sandy, “look how beautiful. When I was a little girl I used to sit with my grandma on her porch in Indiana and watch the sunsets. She used to say we were watching God with his paint brush.” She looked into my eyes and kissed me very tenderly. “God has his paintbrush out again and I have the pleasure of watching him with the man I love.” I smiled and put me arm around her. She cuddled into me and laid her head on my shoulder. Not another word was spoken until all the colors had melted into night.

“Can you spend the night again?” I asked.

“I’m sorry honey, I can’t tonight. I have to get home. I have an early appointment tomorrow and Ron is coming home later this week for summer vacation. I hope you get a chance to meet him. I know he’ll have a million questions about photography for you.”

“Why wouldn’t I get a chance to meet him if he’s going to be here all summer?”

“Well he’ll be working most the summer. He has to make all he can during the summer to help pay for his room and board next year. He was lucky last year, he found two jobs. He worked in a gas station and he worked as a stock boy in a supermarket. I didn’t get to see much of him, but he was able to help out with a lot of his expenses.”

“When is he coming home?” I inquired.

“He’ll be home sometime Wednesday night.”

“Okay, let’s see, so if he started work on Monday would that give you two some quality time together?”

“Oh of course, but I can’t count on him getting a job that quickly. It’s tough out there for college kids, they all get out at the same time.”

Sandy didn’t know me that well yet or she would have known I was leading up to something. I had a plan. I asked, “Does Ron have a car?”

Sandy giggled a little, “Well not much of one I’m afraid. It’s on its last legs. I just hope he can keep it going for another year.”

“Well if he wanted to leave the car at home he’d have a five block walk to the El,” I said wondering when she was going to catch on.

“What?” she asked looking at me now. “What El, what are you talking about?”

“I’ll tell you what, until he knows his way around a little he can ride with me. Tell him to be ready Monday morning at seven o’clock and I’ll pick him up.”

Sandy just stared at me. “Would you like to let me in on whatever is going on in that brain of yours.”

“Sure, I just hired Ron to work in my studio for the summer as a photographer’s assistant,” I said with a big smile. “That way we kill two birds with the one stone. I get to meet Ron and he gets a job.”

“Oh Brent! Brent you’re not joking are you? You can do that, just hire him like that?”

“Of course, its my studio, I can hire whoever I want.”

“Oh my God wait till I tell him. He’s going to flip. Oh honey you are my hero.” We kissed and cuddled for a little longer but she had to go home. That night I was aware of my empty bed for the first time in ages. I missed her already.

Between Sandy’s job and getting ready for Ron’s return, Tuesday night was the only time we were able to get together. I was hoping we would spend a whole lot more time than that once things started to settle down.

Bright and early the following Monday morning I pulled up outside of Sandy’s quad and knocked on the door. A sleepy looking Sandy, dressed in her robe asked me in, gave me a big kiss, then offered me a quick cup of coffee. She told me Ron was so excited he was running around like a chicken with his head cut off but he would be right down.

Excited wasn’t the word. The tall, dark haired kid of twenty was grinning from ear to ear when he took my hand and almost shook it off while expressing his gratitude about a dozen times and telling me how much it meant to him. Sandy, watching all this while taking a sip from her coffee cup, just smiled. Ron finally let go of my hand and started toward the door anxious to start his first day. I could see the appreciation in Sandy’s eyes as she tenderly kissed my lips. “Thank you again for this,” she said quietly,” while rubbing my arm.

It didn’t take me long to realize what a wonderful job Sandy had done raising Ron. He was respectful, polite, intelligent, and appreciative. Audrey, my office manager, and Terry, the other photographer, both of whom had been with me for years, made him feel like one of the family right away.

I came by to pick up Sandy for a date that Wednesday night. She looked beautiful, as always, when she opened the door and invited me in. “Where’s your cape?” she asked.

“Ah, I’m sorry my cape?” I had no idea what she was talking about.

“Yeah, you should be wearing a red cape. According to my son, you’re Superman. You also know everything there is to know about photography or for that matter, you know everything there is to know about everything,” she said with smile.

“Well,” I said modestly, “there maybe one or two things I’m not really sure of.”

Sandy smiled as she put both hands on each side of my cheeks and pulled my lips to meet hers. “Mwah!” She emphasized the end of the kiss. “My Superman,” she said, “Let’s go, I can’t wait to get fucked later tonight by Superman.”

And fuck we did, but not only that night; for the next two weeks Sandy and I worked on decorating the house, after which, we made love well into the night. If she had an early appointment the next morning she would go home afterward, otherwise she would stay over.

“What does Ron think about you spending the night here?” I asked her one morning.

“He was a little surprised at first. I very seldom dated when he was growing up so he wasn’t used to me staying out, but he’s a big boy. He‘s a sophomore in college so I doubt he‘s a virgin, and he‘s certainly wise enough to know I‘m not one.”

“He’s a great kid Sandy, you really did a fantastic job of raising him,” I told her.

“You want to know what he said about you?”

“I already know, I’m superman,” I said with a chuckle.

“When I told him you were the man I had been spending my nights with, he said he had fantasized about you being his father and he wondered if there was any chance his fantasy would come true.”

“Wow,” I said a little embarrassed. “I don’t think I’ve ever been given a bigger compliment. What did you say?”

“I told him it’s still a little too early to tell,” she said as she gazed into my eyes and kissed me.

By the following week-end, with the exception of the basement, we were done with the house. Finishing the downstairs would have to wait until my condo sold. Sandy’s decorating talents turned out to be much better than I had anticipated. I could see from her work she knew me better than I thought, every room reflected my personality as well as my taste.

“Honey this place is perfect,” I said, “much too perfect to keep it to ourselves. I want to show it off, how about a housewarming party?” Sandy thought it was a great idea. We’d invite some of her friends, some of my friends, and I could use the new grill in the back yard..

Later, after making some preliminary plans for the party, we both indulged in our favorite past-time, we sat in the swing on the back porch and watched the sun going down.

As we sat I thought about how the woman next to me had enriched my life in just the past few months. I remember thinking back at how irritated I was at myself for making that wrong turn and where it brought me. I couldn’t help but think that some strange force in the universe was at work here, that I could actually be happy again, and in the process make Sandy happy as well. I felt Sandy lay her head on my shoulder and I wondered if she felt the same.

The following week the invitations went out. ‘No gifts necessary,’ they said, ‘I have everything I need. Just bring yourself, a date or significant other, and a good attitude.’ Sandy and I originally intended to have a small gathering. Of course, by the time we were done we sent out almost forty invites and most of them were bringing someone, even my oldest daughter I later found out, was bringing a date.

The night before the party Sandy stayed over night but had to leave Saturday morning for an open house. “It’s over at three o’clock honey, she told me before she left, I’ll be back in plenty of time for the party.” Sure enough, she was back by four.

I sat on the side of the bed and watched my lady get undressed. She smiled while doing a little strip tease before getting into the shower. It mattered not that I already had my shower, I quickly stripped off my clothes and joined her. I put some of her great smelling shampoo on my hands and gently massaged her scalp as I wash her hair. I lathered my hands with her body wash and lovingly caressed every inch of her soft flesh.

She started to slither her soapy body against me sending waves of passion through my soul and igniting my penis with lust. With the hot water cascading down on us, she stroked my hard cock. “Uuummmm, you know where I want this,” she said closing her eyes. I anchored my wet feet on the slip proof shower mat and hoisted Sandy onto my hips. She reached for my cock and guided it right where she wanted it. We kissed as she worked her hips up and down on my love meat. For some reason, maybe it was the eroticism of the water pouring over us, but it didn’t take long for either of us to explode into a glorious climax.

We both got dressed and went into the kitchen to finish preparing the food. It’s difficult to express the feelings I had at that particular time. I was getting ready to share my new home with good friends, family, and the woman I’d grown to love with all my heart. I guess overwhelmed with joy would be about as close as I could come.

At seven o’clock the door bell rang, a half hour after that the party was in full swing. Sandy introduced me to her friends and visa versa. Kris was there with my two daughters. After so many years, Kris and I could read each other‘s thoughts, a kind of telepathy; so when she looked at me with a smile as Brea was introducing me to her boyfriend, I knew Kris was telling me my little girls were growing up… accept it.

As the party continued I took my age old place in front of my brand new, two decker grill. Ron, who came stag, pitched right in helping his mother and me make sure everyone was having a good time. The surprise of the night came whenever I looked around for my lovely co-host, and would find her with my ex. It seemed she and Kris were developing quite a friendship. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about that. I wasn’t sure why, but it did make me nervous.

It had been one of the most enjoyable evenings I could remember in many, many years. After awhile I even warmed up to Brea’s boyfriend, although I knew he was no match for her and was sure he would be history in no time.

Slowly the gang dwindled and sometime around one in the morning, except for Ron who was helping clean up, Sandy and I found ourselves alone.

“Honey,” Sandy said to Ron who was wiping off one of the folding tables, “that stuff can wait until tomorrow. I’m going to spend the night here, why don‘t you go home and get a good night‘s sleep.” Ron thanked us both and told us what a great time he had, then excused himself and took off.

I was putting a few of the perishables in the fridge. When I turned to say something to Sandy she was gone. Before I had a chance to look for her though she came back in the front door with a package she had been hiding in her car. “I know we told everyone no gifts, but…well, I’m not everyone,” she said with a smile as she handed me the wrapped present. I was so excited, except for the ties my daughters bought me for Christmas and my birthdays, it had been a long time since anyone bought me a present. I opened and package to find the most beautiful looking , delicate set of crystal wind chimes I’d ever seen.

“Oh honey, they’re absolutely gorgeous.”

“I’m glad you like them, It took me almost a month to find the right ones,” she said proudly.

I went downstairs and got a hammer and nail. Together we walked out to the back porch and tried several places before agreeing on the precise spot to hang the chimes. Sandy said it was the place where they would catch the gentlest of winds from any direction, and with-in minutes we were listening to the most beautiful music ever played by a gentle breeze.

We sat and cuddled in the swing enjoying the warm summer winds and the concert they conducted. I also had a present for Sandy. I bought it three weeks prior at a down town jewelry store. As always I was going to plan the most romantic evening I could come up with to set the stage for my proposal, but as Sandy nestled into me even more, I realized I wasn’t going to top the romance of this very moment.

I reached into my pocket and hid the ring my hand. “Honey.”

“Yes?” she softly spoke enjoying the serenity.

“I know you and I have only known one another for a short time and I realize, because we have both been hurt by former relationships, we said we would take our time and not rush things. I also know that every minute we’re not together is a minute out of my life wasted and lonely. Honey I know you told Ron we have to wait, but I can’t wait any longer. When you’re not with me my whole body yearns for your company.” I took her left hand in mine and slipped the ring around her finger. “I never thought I would ever say this again, but I love you and want you to be my wife,” I said with a tear running down my cheek.

She looked at me. She also had tears in her eyes, even more than me.

“What the hell took you so long,” she blurted out with her tears now flowing. We put our arms around each other and spent most of the night just hugging a kissing on the swing. Somewhere around dawn we went to bed but not to sleep. We made love until neither of us could hardly move anymore. I put my arms around her as she cuddled into my chest and we finally drifted to sleep.

Over the next couple of weeks nothing really changed much. We were making plans for our marriage of course but we hadn’t told anyone but Ron so far. He couldn’t had been happier.

Sandy had pretty much moved in with me so Ron had the quad to himself. At first Sandy felt a little guilty, but he convinced her he was enjoying the privacy.

My concern was Kris and the kids. I knew the news of my nuptials was going to hurt Kris badly. I thought when the kids see that, maybe they’ll turn against me. I was really worried. As much as I tried to hide it, I don’t think I was doing a very good job. One night, while on the swing Sandy turned to me and looked into my eyes. “You’re worried about Kris, aren’t you?” she asked tenderly.

“I’m sorry babe. As deep as the wounds go, I never wanted to hurt her and this is going to kill her, I just know it. I don‘t even know if we should invite her to the wedding. Would it be like rubbing salt in her wounds, but how can I invite my daughters without inviting her, she might be hurt even worse. I just don‘t know what to do honey.”

“I think Kris will be fine, honey. We’re having lunch together tomorrow, I have been debating on telling her myself. I don’t know either, if it would be easier coming from me or you.”

I was shocked to hear they were having lunch together. I guess Sandy saw it on my face. “Kris and I have actually become good friends. I got to know her at the party.”

“Yes I noticed you two seemed to be hitting it off.”

“When you didn’t want to talk about what happened between you and her at the restaurant I knew she must have hurt you very deeply and that hurt was still there. I thought at first, what a horrid woman she must be, but she’s not is she? She’s a very good person who made a horrible mistake and she paid for that mistake by losing the man she loves.”

Sandy gently kissed me then went on. “Kris doesn’t feel that’s enough punishment though. Not only has she lost you but she has deprived herself of allowing any other love into her life as well. I think I can release Kris from her self-imposed exile from love and I believe our marriage will help.”

I sat and listened. I was still nervous about Kris and Sandy having lunch. I loved Sandy and wanted to put my trust and faith into her. “Honey, there’s two problems here. One, I don’t want to hurt Kris, and two, I don’t want to alienate my kids.”

“I know honey,” she said, “and if you want me to back off I will. I can call and postpone our lunch until after you talk to her, but I do understand her, Brent, and I honestly believe I can help her.”

I looked into Sandy’s eyes. They were sympathetic. “Won’t Kris think I’m wimping out letting you break the news instead of doing it myself?” I asked.

“No, I’ll make sure of that. Honey she already knows. She knew from the first time we met.”

“Yeah, I think you’re right. I remember she said something when she helped during the move in. As she left she said she hoped we’d be very happy together.”

“Please honey,” Sandy lightly ran her fingers through my hair as she looked deep into my eyes, “let me talk to her, let me help her.”

I was still a little apprehensive but I agreed to let Sandy break the news of our wedding to Kris tomorrow at lunch.

The next day I was like a cat on a hot tin roof. Everyone kept asking me if there was a problem. I assured them there was not but I don’t know how convincing I was. I looked at my watch around noon and wondered if they were talking yet. I looked again about one o’clock and wondered if Sandy had told Kris about our wedding plans. Every minute I expected to get a call from a crying Kris or from my kids saying they never wanted to see me again.

By three o’clock I wondered why Sandy hadn’t called me yet to tell me how she took it. By three-thirty I was a basket case. A few minutes later the studio phone rang. Audrey grabbed it before I got there. “Brent, it’s Sandy,” she said.

“Hi, how did things go?” I asked, “Jeez, I’ve been on pins and needles, what took you so long to call me?”

“Take it easy,” she said with a small giggle, “we’re girls remember, we just left each other. Kris and I had a long talk. I really do like her, Brent. I wish I could have met her years ago, I think I could have helped.”

“Well…did you tell her? How did she take it?”

“Honey,” Sandy said calmingly, “please, everything is alright, you’re going to have a heart attack if you don’t settle down. I told you before, she already knew, so when I told her, she took it in stride. She’s going to explain everything to the kids tonight. I’m sure they’ll call you and tell you how happy they are for you.”

I couldn’t believe it. I was so worried. As Sandy spoke It felt like a big boulder had been taken off my shoulders. I expelled the breath I had been holding for hours with a audible sigh.

Sure enough, later that evening the girls called me . “It’s about time you found someone daddy,” Brea said, “Sandy is really nice, I like her a lot. So does mom. Catherine wants to know if you can still come over and…, oh alright,” I heard Brea and Catherine starting to argue, “just a minute daddy, Catherine wants to ask you herself. Here she is.”

“Hi daddy.”

“Hi pumpkin,” I said.

“Daddy, will you still be able to come over and help us with our homework?”

“Of course I will honey,” I told her, “I’m still as much your dad as I ever was.”

“Good,” said Catherine sounding a little relieved. “Then I’m happy for you too daddy. I really like Sandy, she’s nice.”

Brea got on the extension and we all talked some more together. The girls sounded genuinely happy but as we all hung up it occurred to me, Kris never got on the phone. I wondered if maybe she didn’t take the news as good as Sandy thought she did.

It was still on my mind the next day when I got a shock just before noon. “Hi daddy,” I heard from the front of the studio. I looked around the corner and there was Kris with the girls.

“Well,” I said while hugging everyone, “this is a surprise.”

“We were down town doing some shopping and I wondered if you wanted to buy lunch for a wayward group of ladies?” asked Kris.

“I would be honored,” I said. Ron heard the voices and came out to say hi. We all exchanged pleasantries for a few minutes then I took my lovelies out for a nice meal.

“Hey dad,” Brea said between bites of chicken, “does Ron have a girlfriend?”

“Never mind there Pumpkin, he’s too old for you. Beside what happened to what’s his name, the guy you brought to the party?”

“Oh Mark? He’s too immature. We broke up right after the party.” I knew he wasn’t going to last long. We finished up and we all walked back to the studio. The girls went in the back for a few minutes to flirt with Ron which left Kris and I alone.

“Brent, I just wanted to tell you how truly happy I am for you. Sandy is a warm, affectionate, loving person, just the kind of woman you deserve. We had lunch together yesterday and…well, she convinced me that maybe I should open up to the possibility of finding someone as well. I will always love you my darling Brent, and I will never forgive myself for what I did to you. Yesterday Sandy told me I can live with the regret, but I don’t have to go on punishing myself. I will never get you back. I know that, I think I always have. If I had to lose you to someone, I’m glad it was Sandy.” She stepped closer and brought her lips close to mine. “Just one for old time sake?” she asked. I took her in my arms the way I used to, and kissed her, long and passionately. As we broke apart we both knew it would be the last time we ever kissed like that. She gave me a small smile before calling the girls and being on their way.

Sandy and I didn’t have a lot of time to plan for a wedding. Ron would be going back to school in less than two months and I was planning on asking him to be my best man. Sandy said since her son was going to be my best man, she wanted my daughters in her bridal party. Just like the party, what started out to be a small affair, grew into a full scale wedding. I didn’t care. The more the merrier as far as I was concerned. I would share this day with the whole world if possible.

The wedding couldn’t have been scripted any better by the best writers in Hollywood. It took place in an outdoor garden. Ron looked so dashing as my best man and both Brea and Catherine looked like beautiful young adults in their formal bride’s maid gowns. Sandy was a vision in her dress and I wore my favorite tie with my best suit. The tie was a two hundred dollar Italian silk tie; it was the last present Kris had given me before the divorce.

Later at the reception, I thought the day couldn’t possibly be more perfect. I was standing with my new bride by my side when Kris walked up. She pulled my head down a little and kissed me on the cheek. “Congratulations you guys,” she said to both of us. Then, to my surprise, she reached over to a gentleman I didn’t recognize and pulled him in front of us. “I’d like you meet Allen,” she said with big smile. “He’s my date.”

I immediately stuck out my hand. “Hi Allen, nice to meet you.”

“And Brent,” Kris said, “I think he has a lower handicap than you do.”

“What? No way,” I said jokingly. “What’s your handicap?”

“Seven,” he said a little bashfully.

“That’s mine. As soon as we get back from our honeymoon you and I are going to have to hit the links.”

With that he seemed to warm up some and really turned out to be a nice guy. I couldn’t believe my lovely wife did it again. She was right, it took a woman’s touch to bring Kris around. It was right after that I had my next humbling experience. As soon as the chance presented itself Ron pulled me to a corner.

“This is going to sound really out there Brent,” he said, “but I never really got to know my dad very well. Well, now that you and mom are married…ah, you’re going to think I’m nuts,” he said.

“Ron, there is nothing you can’t ask, tell, or talk to me about, please what is it?”

“Would you mind if I called you dad?” he asked. I was almost knocked off my feet. I had already regarded him as a son, but I wasn’t expecting this.

“Son, I would be honored,” I told him.

“Thanks,” he said gratefully. “Listen, since you’re in such a great mood, there is one more thing.” I waited for the bomb to drop. “Can you talk to mom for me. I know she’s not going to be too keen on the idea, but I’m going to change my major when I get back to school. I checked and with the credits I have, I can do it. I’m going to major in photography,” he said.

If ever there was a night for surprises, this was it. Wait till I tell Sandy about this, I thought. I agreed to tell his mother and since he would be back in school by the time we got back, we hugged and said our good-byes. When Sandy saw us she came over and they did the same. Sandy had tears in her eyes but Ron promised he would be back for Christmas. I thought to myself, great, I only have between now and Christmas to tell Sandy her son’s not going to be an engineer like they both planned, but a photographer…great, just great. Then I couldn’t help but smile to myself.

A little while later Sandy and I were headed for two glorious weeks in Maui where we both spent the most wonderful time of our lives. Before leaving I thought to myself, if there is a heaven, it’s going to have to go some to beat this.

As we landed back in Chicago the trip may had been over but the honeymoon never ended. Life with Sandy was like living each day in a fairytale. Every day we grew closer, became even more compatible, and fell deeper and deeper in love.

To quote an old cliché, ‘time marches on.’ It sure does and at a very rapid pace, too rapid if you ask me. Ron changed his major to photography and, of course, had a job waiting for him after graduation. I had waited until after our honeymoon to tell Sandy. When I did tell her, she was overjoyed with the change. She knew all along photography was his passion just as it was mine. Knowing he would learn the trade from me and probably take over the studio some day was a thrill for both of us.

Brea graduated and went into teaching. Yup, high school history. She met a great guy, got married and I had two grandchildren.

Catherine surprise me by taking journalism in college, and maybe with a little influence from her old man, got a job with my alma mater, The Times right out of college. She also met someone and was married. No children yet, but as much in love as they were, I doubted that will take too long.

Kris married Allen. They too were a very happy couple. The more I was around Allen the more I liked him. The four of us developed a fantastic friendship. Sandy and I double dated with Kris and Allen a lot, not to mention Al and I were always on one course or another almost every week-end. One year we even went on a cruise together.

Yup, Walt Disney couldn’t have written a better life for Sandy and me.

Of course, if we were home, almost every day would end with Sandy and I cuddling together on the back porch swing watching God with his paintbrush and listening to the wind serenade us using only our chimes. Sandy said it sounded like a gentle rain hitting the wings of angels. Life simply couldn’t be more perfect, Sandy and I couldn’t have been happier.

I was sitting at the kitchen table when Sandy walked in and poured herself a cup of morning coffee. To me she looked worried, a look I wasn’t used to at all. “What’s the matter honey?” I was concerned. It just wasn’t like her not to be smiling.

She sat next to me, took a sip from her cup and looked at me with a tear in her eye. I knew something was definitely wrong and I queried again. “Honey, what is it, please tell me, what’s wrong?”

“As I was getting dressed I found a lump in my breasts,” she said quietly.

I wanted to go into panic mode but I couldn’t. I had to remain calm and supportive for Sandy’s sake. I reached for her hand. “Honey,” I said trying to use a soothing voice, “hey, try not to worry too much, I’m not about to let anything happen to you. You know yourself most of these things turn out to be nothing at all.”

I gave her hand a reassuring little shake. “We’ll get you in for a check up as soon as possible. You drink your coffee, I’m going to call the doctor right now and get it scheduled.”

On the outside I was cool, in control, on the inside I was an absolute basket case. I called Sandy’s doctor and scheduled an office visit first, maybe a biopsy wasn’t even needed. Then I called Ron and told him I was going to take a few days off and for him to run the studio. He asked me if something was wrong but I didn’t want to worry him so I just said Sandy and I were simply going to enjoy a few days to ourselves.

Later that afternoon I sat in the outer office while her doctor examined Sandy. After the exam I was called in and sat with my precious wife waiting to hear what the next step would be. The doctor confirmed a biopsy would be necessary and scheduled out-patient surgery at the hospital for later in the week. While we sat there he did try to comfort us by saying most likely it’s nothing but he wanted to be on the safe side. We both agreed and I took Sandy out for a nice lunch after we left.

I remember, trying to stay optimistic for Sandy’s sake was one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life. I drove her to the hospital and filled out all the forms while they prepped her. They let me see her just before taking her into the O.R. I kissed her, told her not to worry, and I would be waiting for her when she came out.

About an hour later my beeper went off signaling Sandy was out of surgery. I was by her side holding her hand as she awoke from the anesthetic. I took her home, called in her prescription for pain medication and had it delivered. For the rest of the day and night I waited on her hand and foot. By the following morning she was well enough to meet me at the breakfast table. Now it was just a waiting game.

Two days later the doctor called but would not say what they found but only that he wanted to see us both in his office. I didn’t say anything to Sandy, but I figured he would have given us good news right over the phone. I started silently praying to stay strong because all I wanted to do was break down and bawl like a baby.

Again we sat side by side holding hands opposite the doctor as he delivered the news. Sandy had a very progressive form of breast cancer and would need to have both breasts completely removed. Hearing the news Sandy collapsed in my arms. My first thought was why, with all the bad people in this world, why does something like this happen to someone like Sandy?

Still trying to stay brave I held her and comforted her as much as I could. The doctor wanted to get the surgery scheduled as soon as possible and said it would be followed up with Chemotherapy and Radiation to kill any left over cells. He said after that they can do breast reconstruction surgery.

The doctor gave me something to help her rest so I put her to bed when we got home. It was time to start making phone calls. I was not looking forward it. How was I expected to talk about it without falling to pieces?

I managed to get through my conversations with Ron and Kris but asked them to call everyone else. I just couldn’t talk about it anymore.

On the day of her surgery the entire family was there. I stayed with Sandy as long as I could, but after the nurse wheeled her into the operating room, I disappeared. I guess everyone was searching the entire hospital for me but no one thought to look in the chapel. It was Kris who figured out where I‘d be. When she quietly entered she found me on my knees making every bargain, every promise, and even offering a swap of my life for hers to the man up stairs.

The surgery took several hours, but for me, it was an eternity. I was the only one they would allow in the recovery room with her so after hearing she made it through the surgery okay, the rest of the family went home for the night.

For the next five days, while she remained in the hospital, the only time I left Sandy’s side was when Ron would relieve me so I could go home, shower, and change clothes. When I was finally able to bring her home the entire family and several friends were there to welcome her. It was so great to see her actually smile again as so many worked so hard to cheer her up.

Over the next few weeks we tried to live as normal a life as we could but it was hard. The Chemo and radiation treatments were taking their toll. Even with medication to lesson her nausea, Sandy was finding it difficult to eat and was throwing up. As a result she was losing weight, her complexion was losing color, and she was becoming more frail every day.

I was nervous when I had to bring her in for her next check up. I had been contributing her condition to the treatments, but in my heart I was afraid.

After the exam her doctor readmitted her to the hospital. I was on my way to her room when I saw him walking toward me in the hall.

“What’s going on?” I asked. “Why is she back in the hospital?”

He looked into my eyes and I could tell from his expression he was about to deliver more bad news. “I’m sorry, Brent,” he said softly, “the cancer is not responding to the treatments like we’d hoped. It is spreading through out her body. At this point,” he paused, “I’m sorry, there’s just nothing more we can do.”

My grief turned to rage. What the hell do you mean there’s nothing more you can do, I thought. I reached out and grabbed the lapels of his white coat and pulled him with-in inches of my angry face. “Now you listen to me, as far as you’re concerned that woman in there is the president of the United States, you hear me. She’s the fucking president and you’re going to save her.”

Just then I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked to see Allen and Kris standing next to me. “We’re so sorry, Brent,” Allen told me, “but it won’t do any good to threaten the doctors, it’s out of their hands now.”

I let go of the doctor who was still sympathetic and held no grudge for my outburst. “I’m so sorry,” he said. He held my shoulder in a comforting way, then walked on.

They stopped the treatments and let Sandy rest in the hospital. I could see her getting weaker and losing ground every day but continued to be the staunch optimist telling her she was going to get better.

On the sixth day I sat next to Sandy’s bed holding her hand when she looked into my eyes and asked me to take her home. I called Ron to let him know and arranged for Hospice. By four o’clock that afternoon I had Sandy comfortably lying in her own bed. Ron moved into the spare bedroom. He still ran the studio during the day but was there with me every night to help with her every need.

One late afternoon, only a few days after bringing her home, Sandy asked me to take her out to the swing. She said God had told her he was going paint a wonderful sunset just for her. I picked her up tenderly in my arms and carried her to our favorite spot. I wrapped a blanket around her shoulders and sat down next to her. I put my arm around her and held her tightly as she cuddled even closer into my side.

I don’t know how she knew; most of the day had been dull and grey, but that night we watched the horizon light up with the most spectacular sunset I think I had ever seen. I remember thinking that God must had gotten a new set of paints. As I held my love we watched the sun’s crown sink into the fading colors. Sandy raised her head, and with a smile, kissed my cheek.

“I love you so much,” she said. Then laid her head on my chest.

“I love you too my darling,” I said reaching around with my other hand and gently stroking the side of her face. Just then a small breeze played a beautiful tune on the chimes. As the heavenly composition fell silent Sandy took her last breath.

We were still sitting together when Ron came home and found us on the swing. My tear stained face told him the news.

A week after my dearest Sandy’s funeral I returned to her gravesite. With me I had a long iron rod with a sharp point on one end and a hook on the other. I drove the pointed end into the ground as far as I could next to her headstone until only about eighteen inches was left. Next I hung the beautiful crystal wind chimes from the hook.

“For you my dearest,” I said out loud, “so that you may hear the gentle rain for ever hitting the wings of angels and you will always be reminded of the love and happiness we shared.”

For about a month the family decided to put me on suicide watch. Oh, they never said that’s what they were doing, but it was pretty obvious. I had someone staying with me twenty-four-seven. Even Kris and Allen stayed for a couple days.

I’ve heard time heals all wounds…not so, it only allows you to live with the pain a little easier.

Someone once said, ‘the circle of life will not be broken.’ I guess that’s right. Later that year Catherine and her husband Peter gave me another grandson. Not long after that Ron found the girl of his dreams and took on the title of loving husband.

For a few years I still made an appearance at the studio every day but my heart was no longer in it, so I made Ron an offer to buy it and just pay me from the profits. Of course he jumped at it.

Over the last couple of years my kids had been after me to sell the house and move into an apartment where I didn’t have all the maintenance and yard work, but I’d never sell our home…never.

_____________________________________________

I found myself still on my stomach as I, once again, slowly became conscious of my situation. I felt my body starting to shake violently as yet another agonizing bolt of pain seized my chest The odds of me making it were stacked against me. I had no body heat left and I could feel the cold down to my bones. I made another attempt to get closer to the house by reaching up and trying to claw my way another couple of inches but I had no strength left.

Maybe if I took one more short rest I thought. I closed my eyes and laid my cheek on the icy grass.

Suddenly it felt as if the pain was being lifted from my body, not just the pain in my chest but all the aches and soreness’s brought on by age as well. The cold in my bones gave way to an inner warmth. It was as if I had just gone back twenty years in time. I felt a peaceful calm that seemed to take over my very existence.

That’s when I heard them, the clear delicate tones of our crystal wind chimes. My whole body felt light as a feather as I rose from the frozen turf.

“Hi honey, I’ve been waiting for you.” My heart pounded as I looked to my right. My darling Sandy sat on the swing reaching her hand out in my direction. She was whole again. There was no sign of the insidious disease that tortured her last months of life. Her beautiful hair shown like spun gold, her blue eyes sparkled like the stars, and a radiant glow surrounded her entire body. I rushed to her side and smothered her with kisses. I wrapped my arms around her and was determined to never let her go again.

I couldn’t begin to describe my feelings at that moment. “My darling I’ve missed you so very, very much,” I told her.

Sandy’s smile seemed to melt my soul even more than it used to. “I know,” she said softly, “but we’ll never have to miss each other again honey…never again. We have all of eternity together my love.”

I heard the chimes ring out again as Sandy looked into my eyes and tenderly kissed my lips. “Look,” she said as we turned toward the horizon. You could almost see his hand as God started painting the sky again. It was like a waterfall of brilliant colors cascading into a sea of clouds. There was every shade of red and yellow, pink and turquoise, blue and gold, more colors than I’ve ever seen before, and every one was lit up from behind making them glow with a richness that‘s hard to explain, almost as if we were watching from behind the sunset.

“Ooh, look how beautiful,” Sandy said, “and I have the pleasure of watching with the man I love.”

Just then, once again, the chimes sang joyously like I’d never heard them before. Sandy looked into my eyes. “Listen,“ she said, “the last chimes of fall.” She stroked my cheek and gently kissed my lips. “It’s time to go home my darling.”

I felt a joy I had never felt. I was free of guilt, free of all pain and sorrow, and my heart was free to love unconditionally. I looked at Sandy with a smile. “Let’s go home,” I repeated, and returned her kiss.

A cold wind whipped in from the east but there were no chimes to announce its arrival, only the creaking sounds of the empty swing swaying in the breeze.


END

I hope you enjoyed the read. As always, comments are greatly appreciated.
8 comments

anonymous readerReport

2012-04-20 17:43:25
WOW!! I don't think I have ever loved a story more. I am truely amazed. If you leave this website, will you btell us, the ones who love your stories where we may find your continuing writings. You are special, and I cannot say enough to show just how much I liked your work, each and every one are truely perfect. Art

anonymous readerReport

2012-03-28 12:32:50
Since this is my swan song story on this site, I want to thank everyone for their comments.

anonymous readerReport

2012-03-28 03:12:31
wonderful loving story but the end brought tears to my eyes
so very touching

anonymous readerReport

2012-03-23 20:45:22
It is a great story. I can only hope that is what it is like in the end.

anonymous readerReport

2012-03-22 03:32:00
Great work on the series loved it.

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