If we don’t believe the things we put on our agendas will come true for us, then there is no hope for us…We’ve got to believe in our beautiful impossible blueprints.
Craig- A Romance
I met him in 1995. He came to live in the nursing home in which I still live, a manipulative, wheel-chair bound schizophrenic, with a plethera of curly, black hair, and a smile that could melt steel. Of course I fell in love with him; he needed to be loved, and I was lonely, needing to care, to take care, of someone. I have an affinity for the wounded.
I became his companion. I pushed his chair wherever he needed to go, helped him with money and cigarettes, sat with him whenever he needed someone to be with. I heard his stories of how him family abandoned him. When I learned that he had two brothers, from whom he’d had no contact for a dozen years, and did not know where they were, I searched on the net and found them. Though both responded to e-mails I sent, my impression was that they weren’t entirely thrilled I’d found them. They had been very satisfied that Craig had not been in their lives. They told me why.
The youngest of three boys, he was what was called a change-of-life baby, born as his brothers were leaving the house to live their own lives. They thought him over-pamperd and wilfully defiant of every, and any, imposed restrictions. Still, the parents, while they were living, and the brothers for some time after, were forever getting him out of scrapes and debts. It was a thankless job. Craig never seemed to learn from his mistakes, always counting on his looks and charm to get him through any situation. Too frequently, it did.
The brothers also told me how Craig had ended in the chair. He’d been drinking and drugging at a fraternity party (a swimmer, he attended, courtesy of an athletic scholarship) and was dared to jump from a third story window. He did. After that, he was moved from nursing home to nursing home because of continous violations of rules and regulations. Then, he moved into mine.
We couldn’t have a full, physical relationship, given our situations, but what we did have was, by and large, an emotional one. He began a little ritual, early on in the relationship that still makes my heart melt when I remember it.
I am not a person comfortable with drinking or eating after others. I don’t like sharing puffs on the same cigarette. I’d rather buy you your own. It’s almost a phobia with me. Craig, however, never wanted to smoke his own cigarette, when we smoked together. He also never wanted his own can of pop, or cup of coffee, insisting on sharing mine. Then came the day, sharing a can of pop, lightning flashed. I realized the point of his insistence. I saw that with each sip he took, he was kissing the can and passing it immediately to me. It was the same with the shared puffs of cigarettes. He’d found a way to make love in plain sight, without anyone noticing that we were. When he saw my sudden understanding on my face, he broke into a smile that remains indelible in my memory. We did a lot of kissing, thereafter.
Craig managed to stay five years where I was. Now and then, there’d be an incident, he’d be sent away for a psych evaluation and then return. The last infraction tired the administration and they refused his re-admission. Thereafter, for a few years, I visited him, once a month in this and that new facility until he was finally moved to one to far for me to travel. Our relationship dwindled to a few phone calls. Three years ago, today, I learned that he had died and been cremated. I never had the chance to say goodbye.
I shared everything I had with Craig, while I could. Once, after an operation, as they were wheeling him back to his room, I leaned over and kissed his forehead. I knew that in many ways, he used my love, but he loved me as much as he could, and I was satisfied with that. He was the second great love in my life. I regret only that I could not say goodbye.