She saw him as much as possible over the next couple of years. Their relationship brought challenges to both of them, but the strength of that connection took them where they needed to go. It gave them direction when tough choices were to be made and new territory was explored (In all aspects of their lives). It provided comfort when they were not together. They gave of themselves in the purest of ways.
She grew into the woman she always hoped she could be, and he provided a safe place for her to do just that. He learned to remain present and vulnerable, resisting his tenancies for traveling alone yet learning how to ask for that time when he truly needed it…she learned to give him that time without feeling abandoned…never had she been more courageous.
The times they shared in the taxi cab were not to be permanent despite their best efforts. She remained hopeful, never wanting to look at the possibility of reaching different destinations. He desperately wanted to give her that dream, but relocating and uniting their families was not to be.
She heard it in his voice the last time they spoke, she saw it in his face as they said good-bye, she felt it in the way he held her so closely…as if he were trying to make that moment in time last longer. She lay still, wishing for the same.
Deep down, they both knew it was coming, the end of their journey.
They exchanged room in each other’s hearts when they said good-bye. Their words were warm and heartfelt…the beauty in which they said good-bye was a gift.
They continued their travels separately, checking in from time to time to reassure the other the love they had was real.
She showed amazing strength and courage as she set out each day, but still held onto that exquisite bag he gave her. She took it everywhere as she was convinced the contents she had collected while with him defined who she was. His love defined her worth.
When she learned he moved on she searched that bag over and over, trying to figure out what could have been missing, why she wasn’t enough. She dug deep and eventually destroyed its delicate features and all that was in it. Dejected, she pulled her old bags out of her closet.
She searched for beauty in the first bag, but chose not to see it the way she did before.
She searched for her voice in the second bag, but the tone was not right and its words echoed a painful past.
She never did recover the third bag…the one filled with stale memories and old experiences…but those memories managed to haunt her dreams.
She wandered hopelessly for a very long time, desperately wanting to feel the way she did in that cab, with that man, clinging to that tattered, exquisite bag…and tormenting herself with the shame of ruining it.
She found herself on a park bench one afternoon, a gust of wind blew her bag off the bench and she chased after it. The bag landed on a street corner and she knelt down to pick it up. When she stood back up she noticed a taxi cab in front of her.
The window rolled down, and the cab driver asked her if she needed a ride. She reluctantly agreed, and opened the door to the back seat. “That back seat is filled with junk, you wouldn’t want to sit back there, trust me.”
She was about to open the door to the passenger seat in the front when the cabbie said, “You seem like you’ve been here a while and I need a rest. If I turn off the meter could you drive yourself?”
She hesitated before taking the keys. “I’m a little rusty," she said.
“Perhaps this will help you. A former passenger left this in the backseat.”
The cab driver handed her a familiar bag. It was the old and stale one she had lost long ago! She peeked into the bag and was amazed at what she saw.
The old memories were fresh and tidy, tucked away in a pocket of the bag. They had been cared for all this time! The rest of the bag was empty, clean and restored to its original beauty…She carefully put the tattered, once exquisite bag in the remaining empty pocket where it could be stored, but not forgotten.
“I think I know where I’m going now,” she said…and the cab driver’s eyes shut, but not before giving her a wink and saying, "You knew all along, you just needed to believe you were ready"