Healing - or: Back to the land of the loving
Excerpt from "ghost rider - travels on the healing road" by Neil Peart. Chapter 18 (the last one of the book).
(Briefly: within a ten-month period, at the end of 90s, Neil Peart suffered family losses - wife cancer, daughter car accident - so devastating that they left him a ghost - physically a man but with nothing. After a 55000 miles journey on his BMW R1100GS motorcycle, and after fourteen months, love appeared again in his life. Healing).
In less than a day I was in Los Angeles; in less than a week Andrew introduced me to Carrie, my real angel of redemption; in less than a month we were deeply in love, and in less than a year we were married in a fairy-tale wedding near Santa Barbara.
Beautiful, smart, cultivated, artistic, affectionate;
Deep green eyes, long dark hair, radiant smile;
Tall, slender, shapely, nicely put together;
Half english, half swedish, all american, all mine.
The answer to a prayer I hadn't dared to voice, or even dream. Carrie. A friend, a soulmate, a lover, a wife, a new journey to embark upon, the greatest adventure.
Though even after we met I resisted this unlikely salvation for awhile, feeling myself by then to be still little more than a burned-out husk. That metaphor can also be stretched to embrace "once burned", amd all that, and I guess this little baby soul had been burned more than once. But the East African people have a different saying about that, "wood that has burned once is easier to set aflame". Or maybe it was more like the seeds of the ponderosa pine or sequoia, which must be touched by fire before they can produce new life.
After our first, awkward meeting at a Hollywood restaurant with Andrew and his date, Carrie and I were brought together again later that week by Andrew (a determined little matchmaker) for a hike in Topanga State Park with him and his dog, Bob, an amiable jack Russel terrier. Carrie and I walked together the whole way (Andrew discreetly ahead with Bob: our chaperones) and talked about the world and our lives in it. But stubbornly , I still refused to consider this "dating", or that I was supposed to do anything, and the next day I continued blithely on my travels.
A week or two later, I somehow found myself circling back toward Los Angeles, ad Carrie and I had our first date alone together at a restaurant in Laguna Beach, then drinks over at the Ritz Carlton. Again, we talked comfortably, growing friendly but not "flirty", until one moment when I chanced to see her from across the restaurant - that single, unforgettable glimpse of her unguarded face would stop time, and change everything. One telling moment melted my cool resolve and beckoned me back to the land of the loving.