"While I have written many stories and have had numerous books published over the past twenty-nine years, occasionally I come across a few notes of a story I planned to write at a future date, but had somehow overlooked or have just never got around to. Please allow me to share a few snippets of a story that I once loosely sketched out with the possible intention of someday writing. The story isn't about me and the love of my life, Sheila, but parts of it could so easily have been, as with most lovers and soul mates I'd guess. The story would probably have started by something like this:
'I will never forget the day I decided to rest in the cornfield after a traumatic break-up with my first love. I silently cried myself to sleep, not knowing that a few feet away to my left, another person had done the same for similar reasons. She awoke and stirred the sheaves of corn which startled me. I rose to locate the source of the movement and I was startled to see another person standing so close to me that we could almost have shaken hands. We had stood up from our corn-bed together and was at first surprised, and not knowing where to put ourselves. Then, moments later, after jointly arriving at the same conclusion that we had innocently shared similar circumstances, we smiled across at each other before breaking out into gentle laughter.
After a few quickly exchanged words, something told each of us that the coincidence of us meeting under the precise circumstances we had was so great not to have been anything less than an omen of the stars; a fateful message that two lonely and bruised hearts would be hearts would be foolish to ignore. I swallowed my fear of rejection for the second time that day and invited my new acquaintance for a coffee. Without any expected hesitation, she smiled warmly and accepted. We went for a coffee, and a few refills, and over the next hour and a half we shared our worries and woes with the new stranger in our lives. Ironically, we discovered that we'd always lived very close to each other and had no doubt passed each other on the street from time to time. Further conversation between us revealed how close we were in need, values, interests and characteristics; much more than any two strangers were ever meant to be and still remain strangers.
We arranged to meet again the following weekend and before having been in a relationship for more than a month, we knew that our search for a lifelong partner had proved successful.
Two years down the line we married and our lives remained blissful and unmarred for the next twenty-two years until one dark Tuesday in the month of January, when at the height of our happiness I learned that I'd contracted a terminal illness. To tell my sweetheart the bad news was the hardest thing I'd ever had to do in my life as, over our years of marriage, we'd come to depend upon each other as only true loves ought. Upon hearing of this sad news, my wife was immediately stunned and her body suddenly sagged as the emotional consequences sunk in. She cried on my shoulder, and although I comforted her, I felt angry to have been robbed of years of future happiness we'd hoped to happily share. There were also all those precious plans that had been spoken of often about things remaining for us yet to do, and places we longed to see before we retired gracefully into the blissful comfort of our rocking chairs of old age; relaxing across from each other in front of a blazing open fire as the wind howled outdoors and forecast snow started to fall and cover the ground in a white blanket of winter. Old age was never once feared by either of us so long as it was shared between us, she listening to the classical music channel on the radio while I either read a book or completed my weekly newspaper crossword.
After finally accepting the cards that fate had dealt us and some semblance of emotional stability returned to our bodies, we managed with some difficulty to positively apply ourselves to the difficult months ahead prior to one of us sadly having to leave this life. The night before I died, we cuddled in front of the open fire in the sitting room with a blanket draped around my shoulders, and we just talked and talked of happier days when we were much lighter of foot and heavier of earthly desires. Though we both knew that death was an imminent visitor to all in our lives, neither of us feared it any longer and only resented it because only one of us had the fatal illness which would temporarily part us.
When the time came for me to depart this life on earth, my body was warmed by that last kiss that passed between us as a loving man and wife. As the oxygen of her last earthly kiss travelled through my lungs, my final breath was softly expelled from my mouth and brushed her tearful cheeks. As it did so, I sensed a sad stillness of loss reign in her heart and soul as her bright eyes watered up and sank in pain.
Mere minutes after my passing, although all of her emotional strength had been drained from her body, she knew that she'd need to organize certain things during the immediate hours and days ahead. So, she thoughtfully put all her remaining crying to one side until these things had been done. Funeral arrangements swiftly followed my earthly departure and on the day of my burial, the earth seemed to open up for both man and wife as one was laid to rest while the other remained above the soil.
Although greatly loved and comforted by her enlarged family of brothers and sisters-in-law she had inherited upon her marriage, she nevertheless felt that she alone would be left to carry the crucifixion of heavy loss during many lonely days and cold nights ahead, especially in the emptiness of her bed.
Paradoxically, two months after her husband's funeral, the grief-stricken widow learned that she also had contracted a serious illness that would prove terminal if left untreated. She was informed that certain treatment was available that could provide a complete cure and restore her life expectancy to normality. The hospital consultant expected to witness an immediate look of relief that is only ever seen in a person of her precise circumstances hearing such news, or in the gladdened face of a condemned prisoner who was minutes away from being hanged, when, at the eleventh hour he receives a reprieve. But the facial expression of his female patient remained unchanged as she heard the medical announcement of the hospital consultant. One minute later, she declined the offered life-saving treatment with a smile that the consultant found totally impossible to comprehend.
Five months after the death of her husband, the widow also died and was placed alongside her husband in their joint grave-plot. Earlier arrangements involving additional financial cost had been made for each coffin to be laid side-by-side and not one above the other as is usually customary. The couple's gravesite was not the local cemetery but the cornfield in which they'd first set eyes on each other. Arrangements had also been made by the woman and her appointed solicitor with the local farmer in whose field the couple had first met, for both her husband and herself to be buried there. She felt it only right and proper that each of their final resting places should be the very same spots where they had first lain in side-by-side.
To bring her burial plan about, and having no child dependents to leave the matrimonial home to, she purchased the farmer's field before her death at double the going rate for the price of land. She pre-ordered a headstone to mark the spot where they would again lay side-by-side. At the precise middle distance between both places where the couple were buried, a joint headstone was constructed that simply read, 'We're in the middle, lost in the spin of loving each other.' The remainder of the field was planted with wildflowers and was turned into a wild-flower meadow.'
In the years that followed, the grave of man and wife was maintained by the kindness of nature plus an underground landslip which resulted in the two coffins colliding with force, breaking open the wooden caskets, and bringing the contents of each coffin closer together; providing the couple with an eternal embrace of love. They had first met side-by-side in the cornfield and had moved closer in their affections every day since finally resting in each other's arms below ground.
Beneath the ground, they embraced as they had always done at the start and end of every day until the time came when they were eventually reunited in spirit and soul, trapped within their heaven of contentment for the rest of eternity." William Forde: August 29th, 2018.