Saturday, July 19, 2008

Chapter 2, Musings on Love, Life etc

June 26, 2007 Oakland, California
A Work of Historical Fiction in Process Please let Brenda know what you think.

Trevor Fincham fidgeted back and forth in the Adirondack lawn chair, his long legs crossing and uncrossing as I sat patiently waiting for him to speak. Up until today I had not seen this amazingly intelligent yet remarkably insensitive man whom I deeply loved since March. I had missed him terribly. For the moment I was consumed with the image of Jane Verna Frank-Fincham pushing a baby stroller down College Avenue and the impact of what this could mean for Trevor, for me, for all of us.

I struggled to remember the laughter and tender moments we had shared. I was dumb struck witnessing his lies and half-truths, his withholding. Had any of the sweet moments we shared together meant anything to him? Did I know him at all? Did I truly lack discernment about the men in my life? Or was I just another notch on his very proper English black leather belt?

I truly could not comprehend his obsession with youth and why he constantly referred to as his “young wife” as if that is all she meant to him – as if she could offer him an elixir of life or a veritable fountain of youth. From my seat on the sidelines, Trevor Fincham was not growing older either gracefully or graciously. He was trying much too hard, looking in the wrong places, underestimating his own gifts and talents, diminishing his own value as an accomplished, sophisticated man.

I loved Trevor, but I did not know what to do with that love in this moment.

Tight lipped and firmly I broke the intense silence of my garden. “You need to tell me the truth. Is there anything new in your life . . . in your home? I need to know now!”

Trevor met my plea with stark withholding silence as he held his tanned shaved head in his large artisan’s hands.

“Let me rephrase. Is there . . . anyone new . . . in your household?”

His angular jaw tightened as fear gripped him. He sat mute. Stunned. His large eyes flickering like a hummingbird flapping its delicate wings.

“You need to tell me the truth and do it now. If I have to,. I will ferret out the truth and you will not like the outcome.”

His basso voice responded so quietly I could barely hear his words: “We adopted a baby.” He paused, adding “In May. . . . that’s why I was away.” His voice reflected no happiness in his voice, no pride, only sadness.

His words cut through my heart as I choked back my tears. I refused to let the one man still living on this earth that I truly cared about see me cry, no matter what. I had my pride if nothing else.

In a controlled even voice I expressed my dismay. “You adopted a baby! From where? Were you going to let me run into you at Safeway . . . what do you think would have happened . . . why didn’t you tell me? Why?”

Reluctantly and awkwardly he added, “An eight-month old little girl . . from Hanoi . . . you know . . . Vietnam . . . we started the process in March.”

“Whatever were you thinking?”

Searching for an answer he struggled to say, “I was trying to move forward. I thought it was the right thing to do.”

Looking horrified I responded, “Oh, my God! Vietnam, of course, I know all about Vietnam . . . more than you can ever know . . . ever fathom . . . ever imagine”

He sat mute, almost visibly shrinking before my very eyes. My tall handsome prince had turned into what
I chided, “You don’t get a baby like you buy a suit . . surely you’ve known this for some time.”

“No, no . . . we just started the process in March.”

The insult to my intelligence proved to be overwhelming. It took every ounce of strength within me to not stand up, walk the two feet to where he sat, and slap the downcast face of a man who was not only a coward but so clearly did not know me nor understand the depth of emotions going through me.

My mind struggled to absorb it .all . . . a baby . . . a sweet little girl . . . Vietnam . . . Hanoi . . . a baby girl from Hanoi . . . so many memories . . . my dear sweet Eddie’s shrapnel riddled body . . . his flag draped casket . . . the endless search for the truth . . the N.V.A. regiment who had fired the artillery shells from across the Mekong River at the French Fort . . . . everything shattered . . . another little baby girl – mine -- who never knew her father. . . who never danced with her Dad. Eddie never had the opportunity to twirl our precious girl around the yard . . . or fish in the river with his son. So many missed events . . . so much lost love.

The hurt was immense. Everything that had impacted my life stemmed from a war or the aftermath of a war. For me Vietnam was clearly the gift that would keep on giving no matter what I did or didn’t do. And I had never dreamed that Trevor Fincham would be the man who would bring such pain back into my life, wittingly or unwittingly.

Though sitting in front of me, suddenly my Trevor Fincham seemed nearly dead to me. Possibly in many ways he was dead to himself . . . trapped, a hamster on a wheel in a cage. He knew it. I knew it. Jane Verna Frank-Fincham had won the battle but possibly not the Fincham-Frank war. She was living to fight another day, but would he? Trevor’s life was over as he once knew it. His dreams of freedom and true happiness, dashed on the rocks of the adoption of an innocent child who deserved a better family than she had gotten.

Trevor’s tanned face paled in the realization of what he had wrought. His eyes widened. His shoulders visibly slumped as he held his head in his hands and grieved, “Oh, God, what have I done. What a disaster!"

As he rose from his chair and stretched his legs, he suggested we have lunch some day in the future. He gave me a weak dispassionate hug, while saying,
“I’m sorry. I am . . . so very sorry.”

Mostly I was sad. Sad for him. Sad for his baby girl. Sad for myself . . . for everyone.

He stayed three hours, struggling with his inner and outer demons, trying to tear himself away from the comfort of my home. He bore the mark of defeat as he raced down the front stairs and hopped into his manly black Corvette convertible, visibly donning the contorted mask of a devoted loving husband and new father. Then my Trevor Fincham disappeared into the illusion of his life, his secrets, hopes, and dreams locked within the recesses of his heart.

From the privacy of my front porch and with tears rolling down my cheeks, I watched him pull away, possible for the last time, and attempted to understand why the ghosts of war continued to haunt and shape my life and whether or not I would ever find true happiness or truly be whole in this lifetime.

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