Dedicated to my life, my love & my friend; April Renee McIntyre

It seems as if it has been so long since we last made love. As I stare upon the frailty of the body you once loved so well, I can’t help but let the tears fill my eyes. I miss your smile so very much that I can’t help but reminisce about the day we came to be, more than forty years before.

I remember that night as if it were yesterday. You with the energy of the whole world running through your veins and me, the calmer of the two, full of life, yet far more reserved. I’d seen you around several times before but tonight was different. Tonight would be the night that would signify our beginning. Tonight would be the one were you finally chalked up the nerve to ask me out. When I accepted your invitation the light in your eyes was something I still can not fully put into words. The first of many memories to come took place on a magical autumn evening in the late of August. You were so romantic in those days, so beautiful, so enchanting, and so full of life.

You took me to your favorite pasture through the vast landscape of Vermont’s countryside. It was so beautiful, so peaceful. I felt so much at home by your side and eventually in your arms. You were such a charmer. You laid before us a blanket made of cottony fabric with a touch of hunter green and navy blue plaid. It was soft, warm and gentle. You knelt down quietly and patted a spot on the blanket waiting for me to accompany you there. As I sat down next to you, you ever so boldly pulled me within the softness of your arms. To your delight I easily adjusted to your desires. We sat there for sometime admiring the company of the other as we watched the sunset disappear behind the rich glow of the peaceful hillside. It was like nothing I had ever saw before. Of course there had been many times in my life that I had heard someone mention how gorgeous a sunset can be, but until you’ve actually taken the time to see it for yourself, you never really know of the shear beauty they speak of. It was wonderful.

After the sun had gone down we were left only with the stillness of the darkening sky. You unraveled your grasp from around my shoulders and reached for my hand. You placed my hand within your own and kissed it ever so softly. You caused chills to run down the length of my spine and back again. You slowly placed my hand beside you and moved closer to my face. There is where you placed your enchanting lips upon me for the first time. I thought I would melt at that very moment. Most women would have been put off by your steadying aggression but I was just the opposite. I felt comfortable, I felt ready, and I desperately needed to be yours. I still can not fully explain how I could feel so overwhelmed by emotion so suddenly. All I can say is it simply felt right.

The tenderness of our first kiss would turn into many more to follow. Between our passionate kisses I felt the gentleness of your touch upon me once more. This time you pulled me closer within your grasp close enough to feel the heaviness of your full breast against me. You felt so inviting that I took it upon myself to do a little exploring of my own. I placed my hand over your thigh as a massaged it steadily. From your thigh my hand gained a mind of it’s own as it searched for the seam of your center. To my surprise you allowed me to continue my exploration of your jeans. But I needed to go further; I needed to feel the real you. I reached for the zipper at the top of your pants to unlock the secrecy hiding within them. I could hear a soft moan escape your assertive butch lips. This pleased me greatly. As I slid my hand down your now exposed center you placed your hand behind my neck to steady me. Your other hand traced the small of my back as I continued on. Although you were initially the aggressor, you were quite the confident one when it came to your sexuality. You realized that you had needs as well, for you were still a woman no matter how aggressive you ultimately tried to be.

I pressed on until I reached the intensidly of your volcanic wetness below. You were so very hot that I felt the heat radiate from your center causing my body to perspire against you. I wanted more. As I perched deeper to reach the exact spot that would make you release the burning flame inside you, you reached for me. You nestled your warm breath against my ear and began to whisper my name ever so slowly, “Nia, Nia”.
The sound of my name pouring from the sweetness of your lips set my body ablaze as well. Before I knew it, all of our clothing had become lost for only the rawness of our naked bodies remained.

Throughout the night we continued our journey of pleasure beneath the comfort of the autumn sky. It was more than lust; this was an eternity in the making filled with an endless passion and a lifetime full of love to come.

I now know that was the night I fell in love with you. But now as I look upon you lying there so still and so very weak, It’s hard to imagine the glow in your eyes slowly fading away and out of my hands. The thought of the emptiness brings a flood of tears to my eyes and down my cheek as I think of my fate without you by my side to hold my hand. As the feeling begins to consume me, I attempt to gather myself as I kneel along side our bed. In my failed attempt to control my flood emotion it becomes painfully evident when I realize that you have awaken from your sleep to find me weeping before you on my knees.

“Baby, what’s wrong?” You ask in tired and weak voice

“Nothing, I’ll be all right” I answer in another attempt to regain some composure.

“Nia, why are you crying? What’s wrong?”

“It’s just that, It’s just…” Is all I could manage to say as I failed yet again to control my emotions.

“Baby don’t cry, it’ll be all right”

“But that’s just it Renee, it won’t be all right with out you. How can I go on with out you in my life?”

“Baby please try to be strong. We knew it would come to this eventually.”

“I know, I know. But It’s so hard. I didn’t realize that it would come so soon.”

As my tears continued to take over me you slowly reach for me only to fall weak against the pillows behind you. As I gasp at the sight of you, you assure me that you are fine and for me not to worry. I hold tight to your hands. As I begin to take notice of them, I realize that we have been together for what seems like to short a time although the feel and look of your hands have changed drastically over the past forty- two years. I can’t believe that it has actually been that long. As these thoughts pass through my mind you speak once more.

“Baby come here. Come lay down beside me.”

I acknowledge your request with a nod my head and rise quickly from my knees to accompany you by your side. You wrap one of your arms around me as I try to hold you close. After a few moments you are fast asleep and my feeling of loneliness hits me once more as I begin to think back to the day that changed our destiny forever.

It was a warm summer day. The sun was shinning and the wind was blowing lightly as we enjoyed our day outside just as we always had around this time of year. While I tended to our garden you tried to teach the neighborhood girls how to play basketball just as good as the boys. You were always into something. Even though you were eight years older than I was you always had plenty of energy. We use to tease one another about our age difference all the time. You would always respond with something wild and witty like your favorite phrase, “I’m old but I ain’t cold”. That would always make me laugh. And on every occasion possible, you would always try to prove that fact. Today would prove to be no different.

As I watched from the garden you still had your form and style. Sixty- seven years old and still able to shoot a jumper just like someone who was twenty-two. If those girls paid attention they would soon be able to beat those boys in no time at all. That very though made me smile to myself as I cheered you on from my herbal sideline. As I continued to watch you school these children on the court, I heard the phone ring from inside our house. Feeling a little annoyed by the phones interruption of my view of those full breast of yours bouncing in the air as you shot yet another jumper, I ran to get the phone.


“Hello Ms. Anderson?”

“Yes this is Ms. Anderson, how can I help you?”

“Is this Renee’ Anderson Ma’am?”

“No this is Nia Anderson can I help you?”

“Oh hello Nia! I’m sorry. Yes of course you can help me. This is Dr. Lydia Cummings. Is Renee available?”

“We’ll she’s in the middle of a lesson right now, how can I help you?”

Her tone lowered and immediately I began to feel that something was wrong.

“Nia since I know that you and Renee are in a relationship, I feel that I can tell you this in the utmost of confidence and trust that you will be able to deliver the news a little easier.”

“What news! What is it Lydia?”

“I’m not sure how to say this Nia.”

“What is it, what’s wrong?”

“It’s Renee Nia. During her yearly routine physical we found something horribly wrong.”

My voice remained silent as I waited for her to continue.

“Nia, Renee has to come in for some more tests to be absolutely certain…” Her voice trailed off.

“Test for what Lydia what wrong with Renee? Spit it out damn it!” I yelled into the receiver of the phone.

“We believe that Renee has brain cancer. I’m so sorry Nia. But it’s imperative that Renee comes in for some more tests as soon as possible just to be absolutely certain.”

My heart felt like it had stopped. I dropped the phone from the palm of my hand and fell to my knees as I screamed inside with agony. I could still hear the sounds of Dr. Cummings voice crackling on the other end of what was left of the phone. In my lost for words I clutched the middle of my stomach and silently prayed for this to be some practical joke. But I knew deep in side that it wasn’t. I knew that I had to tell you but I had to convince myself of the truth first and at the moment I simply couldn’t.

As I lay in a fetal position on the kitchen floor in disbelief, Sara, one of the girls you coached came walking through the back door to retrieve a pack of Gatorade from the fridge signaling a break in practice. But before she could reach the door handle good she yelled out at the sight of my body balled up on the floor like a child in tremendous pain.
“Ms. Anderson are you okay? Ms Anderson!” She continued to yell. Although I had wanted to move I simply couldn’t. Her screams soon summoned you seeing how we had shared the same last name sense the day we married many years ago.

“Nia what’s the matter baby what wrong? What happen?” You asked, extremely concerned for my well being completely dismissing your own as you always had. I managed to speak barely.

“Send the girls home, we need to talk.” I said as I continued to cry heavily.

You looked around the kitchen noticing the phone on the floor slightly broken from where I had dropped it. Realizing now that I was not physically in pain you figured that something must have happened on the phone. You quickly dismissed Sara by bidding her fare well and assuring her that everything would be all right. Sara took her cue and headed out the back door to inform the other’s that practice was over for the day. Being the ever gently woman you were you pulled me close and asked me what was the matter. I took a deep breath and began to tell you of the heart wrenching news.

As I explained all that Dr. Cummings had told me the expression on your face to my surprise, had barely changed at all. It was as if you took the information deep within yourself only to come out with a distorted perception of the reality before us. You pulled my body closer to yours as you began to stroke my back as I sat in silence awaiting your reaction. When I looked up to search your eyes for the answers you were retaining, the expression on your face appeared to be calm and settling. As the gaze of our eyes locked on one another your facial expression changed once more. Only this time, If I were standing, I would have been completely floored by what I saw. A smile had graced your face as if I had just told you I had one the lottery.

“Why are you smiling?” I asked in shock

“Because they are not completely sure sunshine! Doctors fuck up things all the time. Look at me Nia. Do I look like someone who might not make it? Everything will be all right mama. You’ll see everyone is probably just over reacting!”

“What happens if we find out that it’s not a mistake and I lose you? What happens then?”

“Don’t worry so much baby. It’s simple. We’ll go to Dr. Cummings office first thing in the morning and we’ll straighten everything out. And when we do you’ll feel better.”

The emotion of feeling better was one that I would not find the next day or the one that followed after. For that emotion would never come my way again. The following morning we went to Dr. Cummings office only to confirm all that she had said the day before. Only now the pain was deeper as she would later explain to us that your condition was more than a series of radiation therapy sessions. Your condition was terminal and completely out our hands for the cancer that would inevitably seal our fate, spread like wildfire in a fit of rage through your brain.

As the months went on I rapidly witnessed the changes in your appearance and strength. Just as the doctor had assured us, our time together was quickly drawing to a close. Although Dr. Cummings and her medical staff had prescribed various medications for pain along with one of their best nurses as apart of your at home care, you started to experience headaches accompanied with bouts of fatigue and nausea. This disease was no longer something that we could ignore or shake off as a practical joke. This was for real and we had to begin preparations for the inevitable outcome.

On July 26th we had our lawyers draw up all the necessary paper work that would be used to allow me to litigate your final arrangements. From the power of attorney to your last will in testament, the only thing left to finalize the terms of all that you desired was your signature on the dotted line. You were such a trooper even though you had felt horrible, you lifted the felt tip pen that I had brought for you as a wedding gift to sign our first and now what would be our last documents together. I couldn’t bear to watch. I couldn’t believe that you were dying right before my very eyes and for the first time in our relationship I was complete helpless to save you. No one could.

As the days went on your body would continue to weaken and eventually the need for you to be hospitalized came to pass. You hated the thought of being confined to a room where you couldn’t see the sky. We had never missed a sunset in all the years we had been together. The thought of confinement was especially difficult for you. Your favorite time of year was approaching fast. In just three days autumn would for the first time ever arrive without you to greet her. It was a difficult decision even though you hated it; you kept on as you always had. You kept being the strength in my life. You went to the hospital. Although you were aware of the dark journey you would soon have to partake alone, your spirit remained captivating and bright. I admired you so for you were the sunshine in my life. From the moment that I met you, you always had a way of making things better even at the hardest of times. I loved you for that even though I knew you better than you had known yourself. You did this for me. You needed to protect and comfort me as you always had.

I accompanied you and your nurse to St. Christopher’s Memorial Hospital on September 2nd. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Just like clockwork the days rolled on passing the first day of autumn by as if it were nothing to you or I at all. Day after day the various hospital staff came to provide you with countless medications and tubing to fill your tired deteriorating frame. The powerful drugs Dr. Cummings and her colleagues had prescribed kept you unconscious the majority of the time with your body full of fluids causing you to swell greatly. I allowed the drugs to continue only because they kept you in as little pain as possible. When you were awake you seem to smile more than you had in the past at least until you realized your surroundings which in turn caused you more grief and pain than any disease ever could have.

It was time for me to accept that the end was near but not like this. This was not part of the plan. This is not what you or I wanted for you as your last days threaten onward. I had to get you out. I had to get you home were you belonged. It was time for me to grow up long enough to finally be there for you. It was time for me to be all that you had been for me all of these years and more. I wanted to let you know that you no longer had to pretend with me for I would always love and be here for you even if you couldn’t be my protector. It was time for me to stop focusing so much on my own pain without you as apart of my life and consider what you may feel without me as apart of yours.

I called for the nurse to contact Dr. Cummings office. The following morning I signed the paper work to have you released from all medical care and I took you home to live out your last days the way we had always discussed. In peace and in the sanctuary of an environment you had chosen for yourself.

While lost in my thoughts of all that we had been through over this last year, you had awaken from your long sleep to see me still lying by your side as you had earlier instructed. For the first time in long time a smile graced the presence of a face that I had adored for so long without the aid of any medications. You smiled at me. The sight brought a tear to my eye for it had been so long since I had the pleasure to see such a miraculous sight. You gently lifted your hand to wipe a stream of tears that had fallen from my eyes. In turn I had wiped away yours as I smiled upon you. In some small way this was the blessing I had prayed for every day since the first day of June when things gradually changed for the worse. I felt blessed to have you by my side.

“Hello sweetheart.” You whispered as I continue to lie next to you.

“Hello my love, did you sleep well?” I said as I willed myself to be strong for you.

“As a matter of fact I did Nia. I dreamt of you and I together at our favorite spot in the pasture that I took you to so many years ago. The sunset was so beautiful that time of year. Do you remember?”

“Yes of course I remember it. I remember that night just like it was yesterday. It was the night I fell in love with you.”

“Nia do you know why autumn is my favorite time of year?”

“No Renee, Why?”

“Because Nia, it was the time of year that my life had changed forever. It was the season that I found what I had been longing for. I found the women that would fill my heart with love and serenity for the rest of my life. It was the season that I got up the nerve to approach you even though I had watched you all through the spring and summer months. But there was something in autumn that pushed me towards my destiny. It was the season that I found my soul mate. Autumn is what brought me to you Nia.”

It took all that I had within myself not to break down right there. I was determined to be strong for you. Although I wanted to die inside if it was truly our destiny to be apart. I pleaded with God to let me wake from this nightmare that had plagued us both over this past year. I wanted things the way they were before. But I knew that could never be; at least not forever as we had always planned. But there was something I could do to make it like it was even if it was only for tonight, that would be enough for me. I would provide you with the dream that filled your thoughts and my heart with smiles. I would take you back to the place were we started this journey so long ago. I would take us back to the comfort beneath the autumn sky.

“I think that is the sweetest thing you have ever said to me. Renee, let’s not let this moment pass us by sweetheart. Lets’ go there! Let’s go there one last time.”

A smile graced your angelic face once more. “Yes Nia lets”

I gathered our things quickly. As I raced around the house for some pillows to prop your body up when we arrived I also retrieved the cottony navy blue and hunter green plaid blanket that had began this journey with us so long ago. I grabbed your wheel chair and put everything including a fruit basket in the van just in case we got hungry on the way. Everything we needed was set. Now all I needed was you. I bundled you up and placed you in the passenger seat of our mini van and we were on our way. The look on your face was magical. You looked so excited to be out within the light of the day. It was as if all your pain had dissolved with in the light of the sun’s rays.

By the time we arrived you had drifted off to sleep. For a moment I was worried that maybe we should have stayed home but I quickly dismissed the thought for when I woke you, you witnessed the scenery for yourself and yet another smiled appeared upon your face. I finally knew that I had done something right by you. You were finally where you had wanted to be all along. I placed the blanket over the grassy hill and set the pillows down for comfort. I got you out of the car and placed you on several of the pillows that were awaiting your arrival. The view was so serene and for the first time in a long time so was your spirit. We sat just as we did long ago in the comfort of each other’s arms enjoying the view of the sunset before us.

“Thank you my love. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect view in all of my life. For my two favorite girls are finally reunited.”

“Thank you Nia. Thank you for bringing me here. It’s so peaceful. It’s so quite.”

As we continued our embrace you reached for me just as you had at the very beginning of our journey together on this very hill. In this very spot. You slowly placed my hand beside you and moved closer to my face. You placed your enchanting lips upon me for the last time. Our kiss was passionate and deep. It was as if the young and the old had found their souls once more yet all in same moment it was as if the combination of two were meeting for the very first time. It was an incredible feeling that was over far too soon. For when you pulled your lips from my mouth the tears that you had been withholding all along flowed from your eyes in pain and agony. You looked deep into my eyes and said.

“ I’m so ready to go Nia. I’ve been ready to go for sometime but I didn’t want to leave you until I knew you were ready. I need to know that you are ready Nia for I am in so much pain and I feel the end approaching.”

You always had to be the warrior that protected your princess. You were a true queen in my eyes. All of this time I hadn’t realized that you stayed here just for me. It was time that I fulfilled the remaining part of our wedding vows. I had accompanied you through sickness and in health but it was time to complete our journey together. It was time for death to separate us and allow your spirit and grace to run free, alone.

I looked deep into your eyes and I knew the day was finally here. For some reason I had finally gathered the inner strength from your words to accept our fate as it were. I felt forever grateful for all the days that we were blessed to share together whether they were good or bad. I was thankful. I was blessed. I felt comfortable, I felt ready, and I desperately needed to be the strength you needed to set yourself free. I placed your head on my breast and held you close to me. I placed a kiss upon your forehead for the time had come.

“I love you Renee. Thank you for blessing me with your presence. Your strength and beauty to always overcome the situation is something I will take within myself for I am ready to set you free. Rest my love for you fought hard enough. It’s time to finally rest.”

My words were all you needed to hear. You told me you loved me for what would be the last time I’d ever hear those words cross your lips. A deep sigh passed as the relief of your long fight was finally over. You passed away in the comfort of my arms. I had always imagined this moment as me being unable to manage any self-control and drowning in an epiphany full of tears. But for some reason I didn’t feel the need. For you were in a better place. You were in a place where there was no more pain you could ever suffer. All the jumpers you could possibly ever want to shoot awaited you at the gates of heaven. Where my tears once were; a glow of the golden horizon soon replaced. As the sun set beneath the autumn sky that evening, a smile graced my face once more for finally we were both at peace.

The End

Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of author. All Rights Reserved.

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