“Before my Frances there was my Meredith: the mother of my sons, one living, one not.
I loved her enough to help her die, when her affliction, far crueler than my own, had stolen all but breath and speech from her body.
This I have come to understand as lovemaking of another kind, a final journey one takes together, as much as a part of the weave of human life as the feel of damp linens and paling light on an afternoon when you have conceived a child.
And though this is the one thing I know that maybe not everyone else does, I have never told the story.”
The Summer Guest
by: Justin Cronin
When I read that, my world paused for a moment.
I read it again, I pondered its meaning, and then I thought of the men in my life whom I loved.
And as I read it yet again, the name of the one man whom I loved – in that powerful way that Harry loved – floated into my consciousness.
We are curious creatures, we humans, capable of so much affection for so many individuals.
Perhaps that is why the Bible says very clearly to guard our hearts.
Perhaps we must guard them – not only from the evil that would invade them – but from the love that would overtake them…?
No, that makes no sense.
God is love.
We do not err in loving a person,
we err when we take wholesome emotion into an arena that should never so much as see our shadow.
Love is pure unless we pervert it.
And it has no idea what a wall is, or a boundary, or a borderline.
Harry, in this sweet book, loved three women.
His deceased wife.
His current wife.
And a woman named Lucy.
During his wife’s illness, Harry would take one week a year to go away and regroup.
He left the real world, and its responsibilities, disappearing into the solitude of a remote fishing camp in Maine and there, Harry would rest, and fish, and think only of the lake, the quiet, and the “right now”.
After his refreshing he would go back home to care for his wife – tending to her – reading to her when she was too weak to hold a book or newspaper on her own – loving her, “enough to help her die”.
But in Maine – once a year – he would see Lucy, the waitress in the restaurant at the fishing camp who dated, and eventually married, the owner’s son.
Harry never made an overture.
He respected her.
He respected his vows.
He respected his wife.
But he loved.
He loved Lucy who was young, and precious, and twenty-one years his junior.
And Lucy loved Harry back…
– almost from first glance –
but she never told him.
They never spoke of it.
Each of them knew!
He would eat in the restaurant and they would exchange pleasant conversation as if nothing deeper existed.
They never spoke of their feelings for one another because it was impossible to act on them.
In this book about Harry and Lucy and several other very important characters, Harry continues this trip – once a year – to Maine, loving Lucy quietly from a distance.
And that speaks to me.
This love that two people shared in their hearts for one another over three decades…
Years that passed by – that washed over them without ceasing – like the waters that washed over the dam near the lake that was their refuge,
the lake near the camp that was their security, their salvation, their heaven.
This powerful, undying, unspoken love lived inside of them and never died.
A glowing coal in each of their hearts slept beneath ash for fifty-one weeks out of the year, coming to life at the first glance of the individual who breathed it into existence in the first place.
We, here on this planet, we love.
It is what we do.
And Love knows no boundary line.
It does not see a border.
Nor is it easily quenched.
It isn’t supposed to be.
Harry guarded his heart.
Lucy guarded her heart.
They never acted on the affection that consumed them, but it existed even so, and this concept – this truth about love – it is keeping me alive.
I love like Harry loved Lucy – not because I am stubborn, and not because I am stupid – but because love lives inside of each one of us and it doesn’t go away.
I am not unique.
I am human.
You – are human too.
Love is that coal that slumbers unseen beneath the ashes of everyday responsibilities and unfair circumstances that can prevent two soul mates from being together.
It is that coal that bursts into flame upon
It refuses to die.
I am glad.
I don’t know if I would want a love to live inside of me that was easily snuffed out.
I would disrespect it.
I would disrespect myself for having it.
But it isn’t such a flimsy thing as that.
It lives – beneath the ash of my own circumstance, even though, in my ignorance, I tried to douse the flame.
And like Harry,
I will let it,
For I have come to understand…
I have no choice in the matter..