Unforgettable, My Love Has Come Along, page 8
I wept even more.
“I’m going to miss you.” I lifted teary eyes to his.
“I knew this would be hard. I love you,” he said, kissing my forehead.
“I love you too,” I said softly as our eyes met. His eyes were like hot liquid chocolate and they smothered with blazing desire as his lips moved towards mine. My body felt weightless as our lips found each other naturally. His fingers moved affectionately to the nape of my neck, and my arms wrapped comfortably around his shoulders. I wanted to stay enveloped in his arms forever.
Protest! Tell him to stop. I am going to…any moment now.
Without warning, Orane pulled away, mumbling apologetically. “Sorry, I…I didn’t mean to do that but you looked so, so beautiful.”
“Don’t apologize,” I whispered, resting my head on his shoulder.
He wrapped his arms around me. “I had to call on the Lord for help.” He spoke softly above my head. “I wanted to forget my commitment.”
“Yes, yes,” I agreed quietly.
It was a difficult moment as we struggled to bring our desires under the subjection of the word of God.
Good sense prevailed and we honored the Lord.
I curled up in Orane’s arms until way after midnight. No words were necessary. We just held each other. Now, we were exposed and vulnerable, completely open with each other. It was one of those moments that I imagined; only, it was even more wonderful.
Early the next day, Orane and I experienced the agony of parting as we journeyed to the airport. We kept our conversation light and frivolous, hoping to soften the difficult situation. I had tried to mentally prepare for our parting but I knew that it would be hard.
I dropped Orane at the departure area and left to find parking. When I rejoined him, he was checking in. I waited patiently, hoping not to mentally freak out. As Orane watched my expression, he smiled knowingly.
A few minutes later, we sat on a dark brown leatherette sofa in the waiting area near the security checkpoint.
“Will you be on time for work?” Orane asked.
“Yes. I’m only fifteen minutes away.”
“I will call you as soon as I hit land,” he said reassuringly.
“Yes, that would be nice. It was really good having you here.”
Emotions welled up in his throat. “It was great to be here. Thanks for everything.”
I managed a smile. “You are more than welcome.”
“It’s that time. Will you walk with me to the checkpoint?”
“Yes and I’ll wait until you go through.”
“Let’s go,” he said, holding my hand.
Near the security checkpoint, Orane cupped my face in his hands and I swallowed and held my breath. His lips curved in a grin and he kissed my forehead after mentally deciding that a simple lip contact might not be enough.
“I love you!” he said, gazing into my eyes.
“I love you!” I whispered as we embraced.
He kissed my cheek. “I will call you soon.”
“Okay!” I gave him a tiny smile.
With that, he grabbed his carry-on case and moved towards the checkpoint. It took everything in me to stay grounded. Oh Lord, I cannot watch him leave. I walked slowly towards the exit doors as he went through the scanning device. I glanced around and he was collecting his items. I had no desire to wave goodbye so I exited through the sliding doors, fearing I might start weeping.
The dam broke and tears spilled to the floor. Dabbing my eyes, I rushed to my car. Happy thoughts! Happy thoughts, I told myself. No words could comfort me as I drove to work, tears just rolled down my cheeks.
CHAPTER 11: THE DECISION
“How is life without THE ONE today?” Melissa emailed me.
“Oh girl, I am still having withdrawal symptoms!” I responded.
That’s exactly what I went through after Orane left. I went through all kinds of strange and unfamiliar emotions. Thoughts of him constantly invaded my mind, triggering subconscious meanderings about our future.
With a heavy sigh, I covered my eyes with my hands and flopped backward on my bed. Truth be told, I missed him terribly, yet I was still uncertain about our future together. I was grateful that he had proposed and did not expect an answer right away. This gave me time to think and continue seeking God for direction in this regard.
I had always felt that I would be married. As I waited, God pruned me so that I would know what mattered most. Over the years, the qualities that I desired in a husband changed from a long list to two must haves—a praying man and a friend. I desired a husband who would live a God centered life and seek God first in all situations.
While I felt strongly that I wanted to share my life with Orane, I did not want to be “caught up in love” but face the reality of my situation. We lived “worlds” apart. If we decided to get married, immigration proceedings would take some time. Aside from all of that, the thought of being married was rather unnerving.
Was it time to give up my single life?
Was I ready to give 100% of me, my most prized possession?
Was marriage something that I still desired?
Was I prepared to love God’s way?
Was I ready to say “we”?
I had more questions than answers so I continued to pray for wisdom to make the right decision.
A week after Orane left, I had lunch at TCD Golf Club with Marisa, a co-worker and friend. With her vivacious personality, Marisa was the life of every party. Married for over ten years, she had always encouraged me to follow in her footsteps.
“You’re dating,” Marisa said perceptively as we ate.
“Ah, yes!” I grinned at her. “Shocking! I know.”
“I knew it,” she beamed. “There is something different about you.” Her expression begged for more.
“I am still trying to figure it out. He lives in Jamaica.”
“Do you love him?” she asked excitedly.
“I really do.”
“Oooh nice! High five!” She laughed enthusiastically as our hands met.
“He’s wonderful. His name is Orane.”
“Oooorane,” Marisa squealed with delight.
“Oh stop,” I grinned foolishly.
“So, what’s the hold up? You have issues with him.”
“No, not really, just wrestling with a few matters that he mentioned.” Matters that I felt were not appropriate for me to share.
“Annalisa, you know persons beyond age thirty have a lot of clutter.”
I nodded vigorously.
Marisa’s eyes stretched to their limit as she concluded. “Or have situations! You know—people drama, not to mention bad credit score, unfiled tax returns, financial troubles, set behavior patterns and the list goes on.”
I chuckled at her melodrama. “I do realize that people go through all kinds of stuff that leave marks on their lives.”
“Yes, all kinds of stuffs,” Marisa said knowingly. “Pray and fast about the matters. Allow the Lord guide you.”
“Yes. I’m doing that.”
Marisa looked pensive. “If he has learned from these situations and moving forward, that is great.”
“I believe he has.”
“I like his honesty,” she said, gently nodding her head.
“I do too. He did that right out of the starting blocks. I’m very glad he did.”
“Well, learn all…,” Marisa paused as the waiter placed our bills on the table and left. “Learn all you can about his past but I say focus on the future.”
“Yes. I will,” I responded smilingly.
“Something tells me, he has proposed.”
Marisa eagerly awaited my response as I slowly placed cash on the table to pay for my lunch. I grinned coyly. “Yes. I’m thinking about it.”
“Yippee! Another high five please!” Marisa yelled, giggling as our hands met.
“I’m excited but I need to think about it,” I warned her.
Marisa touched my hand and her eyes widened. “Do you know how difficult it is for a man to propose? The courage, not to mention the nerves he has to muster up. You better hurry up and decide your mind. Good men are hard to find.”
“Yes,” I agreed solemnly. “Soon. Very soon.”
Ouch! I did not think about that!
I was so focused on myself that I had not fully realized that Orane had really placed his heart in my hands. While I had not taken his proposal lightly, I did not consider how much courage it took for him to propose.
“Is Orane pressuring you to make the decision?” Marisa asked as she paid her bill.
“No. Not at all!” I responded thoughtfully.
“Then, there is no excuse for your lackluster expression.”
I grinned widely. “No excuse! I am good.”
Marisa smiled. “You’ll be alright. Let’s get back to work.”
I nodded in agreement and we collected our purses. “Thanks, for your words of wisdom.”
“I have more,” she teased.
“I bet you do!” I grinned as we exited the restaurant.
Later that day, I was sitting cross-legged on the floor in the study at home, selecting music for dance ministry rehearsal, when I became deeply aware of my own clutter. Life certainly brings baggage and the longer we live, the more baggage we tend to carry. But, I have learned to do what Jesus encouraged in St. Matthew 11:28-29, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
I knew that I could not change Orane’s past situations so I placed them on the altar before God and focused on our present and future. I smiled softly as I thought of us as a couple, Orane and Annalisa. Orane was certainly not dragging his feet. He was in a marriage mind-set. I definitely needed to take decisive action. The last thing I wanted was a repeat of how I handled Nedrick’s proposal some six years ago.
Ned and I dated for about six months. We were having a conversation on the phone when he proposed.
“Did…did you ask me to marry you?” I asked tentatively.
“Yes, I did,” he replied in a dry voice.
I was speechless.
Lord help me! “Thanks Ned. But remember we have certain issues to resolve in our relationship before we go in that direction.”
Ned exhaled. “Annalisa, I cannot believe that I proposed and you are saying we have issues.”
“I’m sorry Ned. I am not discounting your proposal but before we consider marriage, we need to deal with our issues, especially our communication problem.”
With all of his wonderfulness, the more I prayed about marrying Ned, the more restless I became. Thoughts of marrying him were not sitting well in my spirit. Moreover, in my “girlish thoughts”, a marriage proposal should take place in a certain setting.
Ned politely ended our conversation.
A month later, Ned and I were seated on the sofa at my home, watching TV.
“Will you marry me?” He asked so quietly that I almost missed it.
Ugh, not again!
Help me Jesus; I want to answer him correctly! We still have unresolved issues.
“Why do you want to marry me?” I questioned calmly, stalling for time.
Ned’s arched eyebrows and wounded eyes told me that he did not anticipate such a response. “What kind of question is that? What do you mean, why do I want to marry you?” He made a valiant effort to control his rising temperature. “Who gives an answer like that to a proposal?” Ned moved speedily towards the front door.
Scrambling to my feet, I chased after him. “Ned, I …” I touched his back and he flinched then slowly turned to face me. His dark grey eyes were tinged with pain, his demeanor detached and distant. I gave him an encouraging smile. “I appreciate your proposal but I wanted to know your reasons for desiring to marry me so that we can be on the same page.” I needed to hear something from him. I was not even sure what that something was.
Ned was livid. He would have none of it. “Do you know how many ladies would love to hear those words out of my mouth? If they could see me now, I would be a laughing stock.”
“Ned, please sit down. Don’t make it sound like that. You are upsetting yourself unnecessarily.”
He glared at me. “I had to speak with a friend after I proposed to you the first time.” My arched eyebrows did not impress him. “Yes. I felt that I needed help. My friend suggested that I do it face to face. Do you know how difficult it is for a man to propose?”
“Please sit down. I will think about it.”
Ned paused. His internal struggle was obvious. “May I borrow your phone?”
“Sure!” I responded. “Who are you calling?”
“Melissa. She can probably explain why you are refusing to marry me.”
So, Ned made the call, only Melissa was out, instead he spoke with Simon. He briefly explained the situation and after listening intently for a few minutes, he hastily concluded the conversation.
“What happened?” I asked curiously from the sofa.
“Simon said maybe you just don’t feel the same way I do.” Ned grabbed his car keys from the coffee table and again headed for the front door. “Bye!”
“Ned, please don’t leave like this.”
Summoning the last ounce of strength left in him, Ned closed the door behind him. With screeching tires, he left the apartment complex.
Two weeks later, proposal number three marked the beginning of the end of our relationship. The ringing of my home phone woke me from a deep sleep. Semiconscious, my eyes fluttered from the faint light streaming through the curtains from the streetlights. I squinted and struggled to reach the phone in the darkness.
“Hello.” I rolled on my side and flipped on the bedside lamp.
“Annalisa, are you asleep?”
I could hardly recognize his voice, “Ned?”
“Yes, sorry to call so early.”
“It’s okay. What time…it’s after one,” I said after glancing at my cell phone. “Are you okay?”
“Yes! Will you marry me?”
Suddenly, I was wide-awake.
Lord, please help me…no, help him.
Not down this road again. I do not wish to hurt this man.
“Ned, remember that we decided that we wouldn’t. I appreciate your love but I don’t think that we should get married.”
Ned never proposed again and as expected our relationship eventually ended. We were on two different paths.
I concluded that I was not honest with myself or with Ned. I ignored early telltale signs that indicated trouble in our relationship. Excuses ruled—No one is perfect! It will get better. In retrospect, I could have saved us both from the unwelcomed heartaches that resulted from a relationship that was going nowhere.
Having learned several invaluable lessons from that relationship, I pressed on. In so doing, I asked the Lord to keep my heart and to teach me how to love.
When I was younger, I associated love with an adrenalin rush, butterflies in my stomach, a fluttering heart and senseless giggles. I may have even used the phrase “fall in love”. But as I grew older, I discovered a significant aspect of love - Love is a decision, a commitment to each other with an emotional component. It is my pledge to prefer or put someone ahead of me and to operate in the best interest of that person.
Marriage demands such a love and this is well-defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Yet, considering a sacred lifetime institution as marriage was no easy task.
As I searched the scriptures, I concluded that marriage was not for the faint hearted or the selfish. The relationship between a husband and wife must be a reflection of God and the church. Jesus Christ gave His life for the church so marriage requires dying to self to bring forth oneness. I admired this oneness; it seemed deep and beautiful. There is nothing more powerful than the fervent prayer of two united by marriage under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Even as I contemplated marriage, my thoughts flowed to honor! Usually, I can tell a lot about a person’s character by looking at who they choose to honor. Thankfully, Orane honors God. “…; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.” (1Samuel 2:30)
Knowing that there is nothing new under the sun, I took comfort that many have gone ahead of me in the journey of marriage—Mama, Maydine, Harriett, Bella, Melissa and Kay, just to name a few. These ladies kept me grounded. They offered wise counsel and some fasted and prayed with me as I attempted to navigate my new terrain.
Nevertheless, I knew that ultimately I would be responsible for my decision regarding Orane’s proposal. In the depths of my heart, I was ready to intentionally love him.
CHAPTER 12: HOME BOUND
Oh happy day!
In a matter of minutes, I would see my love and my sunny homeland.
Harriett visited me for a few days and we traveled to Jamaica during the week of Christmas. As I looked out the window of the aircraft, my mind drifted to Orane. It was surreal how instinctively we understood each other. We delighted in each other’s company and our spirits were in love. We were relaxed, utterly at ease with each other and brimming with affection.