The Marina — California
I’m sitting out on our balcony where, usually, the sun is shining, its rays glistening on the water like tiny gemstones. But it’s rained for the past four or five days now, and I’m ready for the sun to come out again.
Ready to see your handsome face again and give you some suga. I still have that album, you know. It’s filled with photos of me and you, smiling for the camera and always, at the last second, you’d say, “Give me some suga,” and I’d turn and pucker up. Because, in thirty-seven years, I’ve never been one to turn down a kiss from Mr. Frank Jenkins.
There were plenty of ladies too willing to get in line, haha! My own mother being one of them! I can still hear her, ribbing me: “Honey, if I was twenty-five years younger, you’d never have that guy.”
All in good fun. She loved you like her own son. But you know that, best of friends as you two were.
You were the kindest husband, Frank. Genuine. Generous. Unusually so, in fact. Like my “just because” flowers that you’d buy for no reason at all except for the fact that you loved me. I took a picture of each bouquet. I don’t know if you ever knew that or not. Of course you brought Mom flowers too. She loved that. And that simple, sweet gesture made me love you even more.
You loved to buy me jewelry, too. Diamonds, especially. I didn’t mind. They’ve always been a reminder of not only your generosity but a lifetime of wonderful adventures together.
From Europe to the Caribbean, to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Fiji, Africa, Rio, Portugal, Tahiti… There are more, but honestly, we went to so many amazing places I cannot remember them all. Thanks to our New Years Eve Bucket List, where we’d each drop three destinations into a hat and draw one out at midnight. I loved that, the moment we decided we were going to see and experience the whole world before we got too old.
And we didn’t just decide, Frank. We really committed ourselves to it. Just like we really committed ourselves to each other.
I remember the day I first saw you. I got on the elevator at J&H to go to the twenty-first floor along with my fellow insurance claims minions, when I saw this incredibly handsome, African American man wearing a beautiful navy-blue double-breasted suit with the whitest shirt I have ever seen. You had such a bright smile, and the prettiest teeth. Of course, I had to be with my boss at the time, so I couldn’t flirt with you if I’d wanted to—and I had wanted to. You rode the elevator all the way up to the twenty-fourth floor, the penthouse.
I don’t know that the elevator doors had even closed when I turned to my boss and said, ‘Who was that?”
Thus began my hunt to ride the elevator with that dapper Mr. Jenkins again. Today, I suppose it would be called stalking, haha!. But I was smitten, Frank. And when you shook my hand and I finally got to formally introduce myself…fireworks.
Not that any of these feelings could be acted on. You were married. I got engaged. We were in the no-fly zone. So, for years, we were Jenkins and Tucker, and we were grand friends. Until, life had its serendipitous way of working out and then one night, after we’d each endured our own heartbreaks, you told me: “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you. I’ll never let anybody hurt you again.”
You kept your word.
We were no longer Tucker and Jenkins. We were Paula and Frank. Husband and Wife. And we were together every minute ever since.
Now, there’s nothing I love more than getting to talk about you and our life together. Because not everybody has a love story, Frank. And we do. I want people to know that love stories still exist.
That’s why I decided to grow a diamond from your ashes. You always loved surprising me with diamonds, so what better way to honor your memory and celebrate our love story? Sometimes when I tell people who didn’t know us about our love, they can’t believe it. But I lived it. And I feel so blessed to have had it; although, it makes it that much harder to go on without you.
The diamond that Eterneva grew from the carbon in your ashes means that I can move forward with you. It’s timeless and eternal, a class-act, Frank, just like you. I had it set in a necklace surrounded by eight 0.75-carat diamonds and yours shines the brightest of them all. It makes me think of your smile, and your white, white shirt the day I first saw you on the elevator all those years ago.
Au revoir my dear husband. Until we reunite in our next life—and fall in love all over again.