In the weeks after Charlie’s death close friends and family started to ask: “Were you and Charlie more than friends?” The truth of the matter is yes. Yes Charlie and I were more than friends. For a short while my life fell into place and I was happy. Charlie would tell me “AJ I am going to make an honest woman out of you.” I would just look at him and giggle. Hearing him say that made me feel like we were living in some sort of sin or even doing something illegal. It was his way of saying ” I am going to marry you babes.” Weddings were something we talked about often. I told him that I was going to do it my way this time around. That I wanted a gown with a vintage feel, pie instead of cake, and a dance that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Charlie said that sounded beautiful.
In October the beauty began to fad. I was spending more nights at the firm than with Charlie. Charlie was always out-of-town on business, so the nights he was here were special. I traded those special moments for a cube and a job that would never amount to anything. A week before Thanks Giving Charlie gave me a small pot of gold. Looking at him confused I asked “What the heck is this?” He said to me “AJ you are the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow. You mean everything to me and with out you my life has no meaning. You make me feel, believe, and you love have taught me how to live. An I, I can’t live without you.” Tears started to flow, I threw my arms around him, and whispered I love you into his ear. Those were the sweetest words I have ever heard and my heart melted into the floor. In that moment I was his and nothing else mattered in this world.
Yet, work still mattered more than Charlie. Charlie could see I was giving my job my all and watched the passion seep out of my personal life. I often felt like a hamster running in a wheel and went through the motions. One morning Charlie asked me to look at the sunrise. That morning I was too sick to look at the sunrise. I could barely move, yet I mustered the strength to throw a dress on and head into work. That night he brought me to the ER and that’s when we got the news that my kidneys were going hay wire. That I had basically worked myself into the ground and needed a break. I never took a break. I worked through the pain, the nausea, and pretend like everything was fine. On the inside I was a mess. Charlie and I got into a huge fight. He was tired of me putting the firm first and my health second. Charlie decided to walk away that night. He told me “Give me a call when you find yourself again.”
A two solid weeks went by without word from him. I figured he had walked away from me for good. That is until one night I had a knock on my door, on the other side stood a teary eyed Charlie. I threw my arms around him and whispered “I do” into his ear. He held me tight and began sobbing on my shoulder. Charlie had decided to put NYC behind him and make a life in Minneapolis. He got a job at one of the downtown firms and was ready to make an honest woman out of me. The next day when I woke up from a nap I felt something on my finger. Looking up Charlie was beaming as he sat on his coffee table. He could barely contain himself he asked me “why do you have a ring on your finger?” What are you talking about I said. I looked down and there it was a pink and yellow diamond engagement ring. Charlie got down on one knee and asked “AJ will you be my wife?” Sobbing and grinning I managed to eek out a yes. That night melted into weeks of bliss. The dominos of my life were lined up across the floor like little soldiers. I had the job I always wanted, a man who stood beside me, and I was on the way to getting better. Funny how life swaddled us into a calm and quenches our fears with love. With one small breath, my dominos fell to the floor.
On Valentine’s day Charlie was in a terrible car accident and he would never wake up. Charlie passed away a few days later. I never got to say I do instead I got to say goodbye. I sat there in the church rubbing the ring on my left hand. Part of me hoped if I rubbed hard enough a genie would pop out and I’d get to wish Charlie back. It was wishful thinking, yet I held out hope that this was a dream. My dream was a nightmare and all I wanted was Charlie to tell me it was going to be ok. I have faith that he is still with me and that he will always be with me. There are moments when I burst out in laughter for no reason or at suddle reminders of Charlie. A recipe, TV show, and so many other things bring the memories flooding in. I enjoy the flood and sometimes cry into my pillow at night. Cry because I reach out and the only thing I feel is the muppets furry little head. I long to have him laying next to me and to have him whisper his plans for our future into my ear. Sometimes when I wake up from a nap I squint my eyes in hopes that I’ll see Charlie watching me sleep. I never do, yet when I listen to my heart I hear his voice.
Honor is something he would adore. Charlie always wanted to have a little girl. I don’t blame him he grew up in a family of six boys. He told me once “if we have a boy I am going to send him back. I only want a daughter and we are going to name her Charlotte Rae.” I would tease him and let him know that I didn’t like that name. In truth I adored the name Charlotte and loved the fact that he wanted to name our daughter after himself. So that is how I am going to honor the man I cherished, one day a little girl name Charlotte Rae will walk this earth. An I know that Charlie will be smiling down on her from heaven.