“You found your wings, then you flew away from me,” resonates off the newly

painted, lantern-gold bedroom walls. A brighter color to enliven my spirits. We had

decided to paint a couple years ago, but didn’t get around to it. The country red was too

somber. Lost to the music, I cradle the black, rectangle box that encases you, tighter

with each word, swaying to the rhythm of our song. The haunting violin riff intensifies

the anguish in my heart, the wrenching and hollowness few understand. Suffocating

with each breath, I allow the pain to trickle slowly from my eyes. I don’t brush it

away, I welcome the freeing.


Cinching your remains closer as the lyrics play, “Fly on, fly on sweet angel, and

then you may fly back to me.” I long for you to rise from the ashes, into my arms. To

feel your body close to mine, the sensation of your breath on my neck, the gentleness

of your kiss on my lips. In the midst of a grief no one can conceive, until it happens ….

until your ‘life’ dies. The tempo of the music escalates, my mind retraces the memories

of  Fly On.




Seated on a bar stool at a table beside the dance floor at Austin City Saloon, in

Lexington, Kentucky, with my two friends, you approached our table. Again. Your

third advance. It appears you ventured over when we were there at the same time.

Maintaining eye contact with me, you asked, “Do you mind if I sit down?”


I nodded, and replied “Go ahead.”


Greetings exchanged between the four of us, you turn toward me.

I was surprised by your return approach after our last encounter. Our casual

conversation revealed you were in the process of a divorce. No red flags, divorce was

common place. When you told me you had been married three times, a six member

color guard team, with synchronizing crimson flags marched across the dance floor

to “Take It On The Run.”


“You don’t have a very good track record,” I blurted.


“Lady, that’s not any of your business.”


“If you plan on talking to me it is,” I exclaimed.


“My first wife, the mother of my two kids, died of cancer. I married my second

wife a few months later because I needed a mother for my children. Our kids had

trouble and we couldn’t get along. That lasted a few months. My third wife of six

years, also a mother for my children. It didn’t work, no love there.” You almost

shouted at me, throwing a tip for his coffee on the table, and stormed out.


“Well okaayy,” I said with a rueful smile, as I turned towards my friends after

your departure. I regretted being so forward.


A low, smoky voice brought me back to your return approach. I did love your



“Do you know Clay Davidson?”


“Not personally,” I snidely answered.


“Seriously, have you heard of him?” you pursued.


“Yes, I have. Haven’t you?”


“No, not really.”


“You are writing country songs and you don’t know Clay Davidson? Okay.

Hmm. Unconditional? Sometimes? I Can’t Lie To Me?”


“What?,” you questioned, obviously not amused by my playful banter.


“Clay Davidson’s songs.”


“So, you like him?” you offered enthusiastically.


“Yes. Why?” I realized my humor left me exposed. Nervously, directing my

eyes around the room. ‘You deserve this one,’ I thought, as my mouth clamped shut.

Here comes the date question. The one I strived to stay in front of, the one I



Being a mother of two, happily divorced, with a career I loved and freedom I

cherished, dating was not on my agenda. With anyone. My two partners in fun that

evening, Linda, who was happily married, and Stacy, who was engaged but confused,

prodded me to move forward in life. I was content where I stood. Tough and

determined. The niceties of dating didn’t intrigue me. After twenty two years in a

severely abusive marriage, I was adamant to abstain from intimate relationships.


“All men are not the same, there are good men out there” a common plea for

mankind, led by my two cohorts, echoed in my mind.


Proudly, you tendered, “I have two tickets. George is opening for him. Would

you like to go?”


‘Yes, but not with you,’ fought to escape my lips. “When is it? I have to get a

sitter.” Great rejection, no hurt ego.


“April 18th. Can I call you next week?  To see if you can go?”


To call you, he will need your phone number. Do you honestly want that? No, no I

don’t, I deliberated. My mind was racing for a response. Beads of perspiration crept

down the back of my neck. Linda wrote my phone number on a napkin and handed it

to you. Did my friend betray me?


Smiling in victory, you gave Linda a toothy, “Thank you.”


“I’ll call you next week. Thank you. I’ll call,” you proclaimed.


“Okay, I’ll answer you Neal, when you call. I’ll answer,” my banter continued.


My coping skill when I was anxious.



I reminisce our first date almost eighteen years ago. The awkwardness of your

chivalry when you nearly knocked me off my feet, literally. Being a gentleman, you

opened and closed my car door, then pulled my chair out from the table for me.

Something I’d never experienced, and you continued throughout our life together.

Before the concert, I turned our casual conversation deep. I briefly informed

you I was nurturing a lost little girl within me. “In a relationship, I require a strong

man. One to love me unconditionally. One who is capable of reaching into the depths

of  my soul, and support me to pull the little girl free from the physical, sexual,

emotional and mental abuse that has left her forsaken for so many years.” I offered,

“it’s best you understand from the beginning.”


You listened intently and smiled at my declaration. As the night evolved, it

bestowed  laughter, jesting and tranquility. Most memorable, our first dance to Fly



George took the stage. With conviction in your voice you suggested, “Would

you like to dance?”


A slow dance. I smiled in agreement. You led me to the floor.


As we embraced, you bent down and whispered in my right ear. “This is my

favorite song George has written. This is our song.”


“Really,” I smiled at your boldness.


Placing your strong left hand firmly, but gently on the small of my back, you

cupped my right hand inside yours, pulling me toward you tenderly. My left hand

rested on your muscular shoulder.


“Nice deltoids,” I whispered.


I tilted my head upwards to look into your eyes, then quickly glanced away

when I glimpsed a sparkle. I brought my hands to your shoulders, my head rested

on your chest. I felt your heart beating briskly against my cheek. Your masculine

hands around my waist, it felt as if we were catching the same short gasps of breath. It

was too comfortable.



The remembrances of a romantic encounter in your living room, months later.

A blanket spread on your living room floor with an array of cheese, crackers and

fruits. I brought my first attempt at chocolate covered strawberries to impress you.

Wine glasses half full with your friend Joe’s homemade Ottenheim wine, which I

found to strong and deemed it ‘Oughtnot drink it wine.’ We laughed, you offered me

‘Water on ice with a wedge of lemon,’ in my glass.


Fly On, echoing to a repeat play loop on a CD player, you invited me to dance.

Drawing me close, so close, that two people resembled one, in complete harmony, we

glided to the tempo of the music. I melted into you, skin to skin, nothing between us

but love. Enshrouded in a old quilt, lost to time, in your arms for hours. We were

made to find each other, to love one another, to expose our vulnerability to the other.

The blessing I nearly overlooked.




Time and time again, I find myself encircling what I have left of you in my

arms. The love of my life. I hold you close to my heart, in a fluid movement across our bedroom

floor to our song. My attempt to hold you here, your memories in my soul. I can’t set

you free. Can you hear the emptiness in my heart? Can you feel the wetness of my

tears that stain the vessel of your confinement. Can you send solace to my

heartbroken and guilt-ridden core.


I will dance with you in my arms, serving my life sentence. Dance, until I find

my wings and “Fly On” back to you, my sweet angel.


Fly On

You found your wings,

Then you flew away from me.

The wind whispers your name,

Through the skies of my memory.

Fly on, fly on sweet angel.

Fly on, and I will set you free.

Fly on, Fly on sweet angel.

And then you may fly back to me.

— George Molten



Blessed are those who mourn,

For they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4







Rosemary James

Rosemary V James is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a degree in occupational therapy. She worked at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky and The James B. Haggin Hospital in Harrodsburg, Kentucky focusing on mental health, cardiac/pulmonary rehabilitation, acute inpatient, outpatient, long term care, skilled inpatient and physical rehabilitation. She is retired due to multiple health issues. Rosemary is a native of Kentucky and proud of her Appalachian heritage. She currently lives in Stanford, Kentucky. Rosemary recently lost her husband Neal, in February 2019. They have four adult children, nine grandchildren and two toy poodles. She is taking classes at the Carnegie Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Rosemary is using her writing for self-expression and self-discovery as a therapeutic way to work through grief and loss. She enjoys writing about her personal life experiences, family, career, life adjustments related to health problems, being a breast cancer survivor and loss. Rosemary is writing a memoir. She is honored to write for Open to Hope. She enjoys primitive decorating, spending time with her grandchildren, nature, music, writing, traveling, antique shopping, crafts and family gatherings,

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