Forever is longer than "Until"
 
By Bob Perks
 
Some of you may have returned to the home of your childhood and stood on the steps where you once played. Still others may have triumphantly returned to the high school where hopes and dreams played out in the hallways and school gym dances.
 
Who among you have ever returned to the dream world of a previous marriage?
 
There where three apartments in Newport where my first wife and I lived happily married. After all this time I drove by them and they had changed. Mostly for the better. Fancier exteriors and much higher rentals separated the old days from the new. But the best of these fancy abodes stood on the corner of Narraganset and Annandale Road just one block from the famous Cliff Walks. 
 
At night during the warmer months we slept with the screened windows open wide. You could easily hear the waves crashing against the rocky cliffs as you drifted off to sleep to the mournful sounds of fog horns and ship bells.
 
Those memories all came rushing back to me as I stood upon the rocky shoreline along Ocean Drive. Unlike the Cliff Walks the ocean rises to touch your feet here. You can walk out far enough to feel like you are walking on water.
 
At times like this, I am so immersed in emotions I could cry "Take me. I'm yours!"
 
How odd it was that I should be standing here with my new love. I was surrounded by a world I left behind and it spoke at every turn about a dream that, like the ocean waves rolling out, was smashed and washed away.
 
I felt uncomfortable and sorry for Marianne. This was a replay of the first time I brought Karen here. I felt like all the rocks and birds were wondering who she was.
 
"Years ago you stood upon this shore and talked of forever," I could hear the rocks say. "What is forever in your world?"
 
"Well, life and love changes. People change and dreams are broken and forgotten. Things happen. Forever is until..." I reply without real explanation.
 
"Forever in this world also, is from the very beginning until ... Yes, we too, have changed, " said the rock. "The persistent ocean waves have worn us down throughout the years. The storms that ravaged our shores were many. But "forever" is longer than "until," I sensed it saying to me.
 
"I am not the only one." I said in my heart.
 
"No, you are not. This is a romantic spot, an "I Love you" spot. It is here along the shore that many a romance has begun. It is also a place for sadness. The ocean is filled with the tears of those who come here in reflection," said the rock.
 
"It is also why I find this moment all so difficult. I see the forces of nature at work here. But I also see the hand of God. It is the more important reason for my standing here. I have come here to talk with Him. You see, a friend of mine needs a miracle. It was six years ago when he and his family were stationed here in the Navy. His young daughter, Ashley, was diagnosed with cancer for the first time."
 
"I am sure that they too, in happier times, stood right here upon these rocks filled with the dreams and hopes of a young family. Perhaps after learning of her cancer Tim walked along this shoreline in fear and looking up prayed to God for His Mercy."
 
 "I ask you rock, to understand my imperfections and permit me to stand high upon you and stretch out my arms toward my Heavenly Father and ask, perhaps as Tim did then, for His Mercy once more."
 
The ocean, which had been rough all day because of high winds circling from the north suddenly quieted. No I see no miraculous calming here. But simply an opportunity for me to step one level higher towards Heaven.
 
I reached out my arms, stretching them full length and pleaded her case.
 
 There was a multitude of reasons for my return to Newport. Perhaps to finally put to rest any unresolved feelings and guilt. I walked proudly with Marianne by my side introducing her to the world I threw away.
 
It made it fresh again. It welcomed me back and as we crossed the Newport bridge toward home I heard it calling me again, "Come back one day, the two of you and settle here. Your spirit opens up and we connect so well. You have stories to tell and there are stories here as well. Come back."
 
I took one more look around and waved farewell. Then approaching the very top of the bridge even nearer to Heaven than before, I asked of God,
 
"And what about Ashley Hewitt?"
 
Tim, I know you are reading this. I heard "Trust in me for all things, for all ways, forever."
 
God only knows what that means. But I have learned that "forever" is longer than "until".
 
"I Believe in you!"
Bob Perks 2001
 
Have a great day!
 
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