Love Remains


Charles Bins

Charles Bins, Brunswick Forest

Through a picture window, Ted Beacham focuses on a pine. A cardinal clings to a branch for a moment and flies away. His wife, Freida, sweeps hair from his eyes and holds a spoonful of applesauce to his lips. What message could he crystalize to capture the essence of what it was to be alive with her?

His thoughts rolled back to Christmas 2022. Family was there for him, but he could not hold himself together and disappeared into the basement. He’d been despondent for over a year, and the memories wracked his dreams. He longed to see Juliet and their son, Jameson, again. In ’21, they had been at the mall on Black Friday. He stopped in a store while Juliet took Jameson to Macy’s. They were to meet at the food court at noon, but he was too late.

The media kept saying it was lucky a bystander intervened and there were only three killed. That enraged Ted every time. Worse, a few days later, the media raced to the next story. In the following months (and years), similar tragedies, some far worse, flashed across screens and into unconsciousness.  Ted writhed in a well of blood and anguish so deep light could not escape.

The sun breaks through the window, and another male cardinal alights on the branch. Ted recalls a time before Jameson: Juliet caressed his face; salt air filled his nostrils. They raced into the surf and frolicked for hours. Then a wave sweeps it all away, ripped skin and jagged wounds that bleed and won’t stop.

Back in the spring of 2024, Ted ventured to a nearby cafe. He looked up from his coffee, and there she was. A glance created a pinpoint of light. Freida strolled over in a sunbeam, and he invited her to sit down. Over the next year, she taught him to feel again, to see and touch in new dimensions. They had spent 39 years together, the happiest of his life. Her love humbled him.

It would have been impossible to imagine so long ago, engulfed in that maelstrom of despair, that he could ever break free. He met Freida’s eyes now and swallowed, feeling a tear roll down his check. The stroke had taken his ability to speak and write, yet he desperately wanted to share what he now knew with certainty. Perhaps, he thought, she already did.