We weaved in and out of the little shops passing the time until we were to meet his parents for afternoon tea. It caught my eye immediately. "Look at that beautiful necklace, I love everything it represents," I whispered. He leaned into me, "It's two pieces of fused metal, what does that represent"?
Really, I exclaimed, look at the shapes and angels, look at how the fusion creates the image of a door. I love doors, I went on, doors beckon us to explore, they invite and dare us to step beyond the familiar; doors open and grow our world.
He stroked my arm gently, deposited a soft kiss on my cheek and whispered: "But what of the pain when a door closes"? And with that, he turned away.
I shook it off, smacked him on the rear while passing by and said, "Closed doors aren't forever, you know. The pain is only in believing they will never open again."
We met his parents and filled our afternoon with unhurried cups of conversation. After hearing tales about a nearby 13th-century castle, we made plans to go there on our way back. He excused himself to the restroom, and I agreed to get directions. We then parted with one-cheek, two-cheek kisses and set out to explore the castle by sunset.
We drove in awe of the countryside beauty when I interrupted the silence. "Stop, there's a shepherd herding his flock on a nearby hillside, let's watch"! We pulled over and stood in the drizzling rain. As the shepherd whistled, his dogs moved the herd like waves across the field. I was caught up in the dance when his arms circled around me from behind and presented a black velvet box. "The way you think about doors and life is one of the things I love most about you" he whispered.
Many rainy days and years have since passed. Each time I wear the necklace I smile in remembrance of our time together, his thoughtfulness, our friendship, and my joy of doors. I realize now, we never discussed his response to my explanation of doors, but in truth, I don't believe I could have understood. Until today.
While enjoying a sleepy Sunday afternoon, I received a message from his son asking me to call. As I listened to the words he fought to speak, I could feel the rush of air brushing past me as a door moved with great force toward the hollow. It was too fast, too angry, too unexpected for me to catch.
My forever friend suffered a heart attack during a layover on his way home from a winter trip to Spain. SLAM! He was gone. Door closed. Forever. I could almost feel his breath as his whisper fell once again upon my ear, "but what of the pain when a door closes"?
I have walked many people through the turning of earthly life, my parents being the first. While the amble exposes every emotion possible, there is a beauty, honor and a gentleness in approaching the threshold together, door teetering back and forth between hope and fear until it gently falls closed. This...this is harshly different, it's gravely unfamiliar, terse and seemingly impassable. I'm not sure I know how to approach the closing of this door or a stolen good-bye.
I tell myself...doors beckon us to explore, they invite and dare us to step beyond the familiar; they open and grow our world. Closed doors are not forever.