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A Walk Around the Lake, Chapter 5

They spent the day atop Sulphur Mountain, enjoying the sunshine and the scenery, and laughing at the antics of the mountain sheep that seem to take the presence of tourists in their stride. 

They took pictures of the mountains, and joked that it was a good thing that photography did not contribute to geographical degradation, as there would be nothing left if it did! 

They stayed until the call for the last trip down in the gondola was called.  It was getting dark.  They went to the hot springs, and split off to go into the change rooms.  He was in the pool first, waiting for her to come out of the change room.  She wore a simple blue swimsuit, one piece, but enough of a tease for him to be even more intrigued than he already was. 

She spotted him as she waded into the pool, and sat down beside him.  He put his arm along the side of the pool, and casually draped it around her shoulders.  He pulled her to his side, and gently kissed the top of her head.  "These past few days have been wonderful," he told her warmly. 

"For me too," she exclaimed, surprised at the fact that it was true. 

"Tell me about your husband."  He urged her to open up to him. 

"Hmm, Michael was a wonderful man.  He was a doctor, and we met when we were in University.  I was in nursing, and he in medicine.  He wanted nothing more than to be a doctor, and when I finished my degree, we got married, and I worked while he finished his degree." 

"You put him through school then."

"It's not what it seems, it's easy to do, when you love someone, and we loved each other.  He was kind, and gentle, and tender.  He was a wonderful physician.  His patients loved him.  He had a large practice, and I worked occasionally in the office." 

"How long were you married?" 

"Twenty years, beautiful years."

"Any children?"

"No, I couldn't conceive.  It was a loss for both of us, because we both wanted a family.  We considered adopting, but then Michael got sick, and my focus was on him.  At that point, we wouldn't adopt, and well, now, I don't want to raise a child alone."

She was silent for a bit, as she looked away, caught up in memories.  He gave her the time she needed, until she could continue with her story.

"Michael had leukemia, and the treatment for it, nearly killed him.  The chemo is so hard on the body, but we got him into remission, and while we were waiting for the bone marrow transplant, he relapsed, and that was the beginning of the end.  More chemo, and he continued to endure that, until he said he couldn't take any more.  I pleaded with him, to keep trying, but I knew then that it was useless.  I took him home, and nursed him at home.  I held him in my arms, weeping when he died.  His last words, were I love you."

"That was very hard for you, I can tell," he empathized with her pain.  He saw she continued to mourn the loss of her husband.  The man who could help others get well, but not himself. 

"Yes, I think a part of me died with him.  He was the first man I had ever loved.  That first day, when you said, I looked like I lost my best friend, I had.  I haven't had the gumption to date, or be with another man since Michael's death.  You are the first man, I have even let this close to me."

"Why do you suppose that is?", he asked her.

"I don't know.  Perhaps it is time.  Perhaps it is the place, or maybe it is you." 

The evening was starting to get chilly, as it does in the mountains when the sun goes down.  They decided that they would go and find something for a late dinner. 

They went to a pizza joint, that served good food, and got a quiet table in the corner of the room.  They had Chianti with the pizza, and talked and laughed until it was well past midnight.  He got the feeling she didn't laugh much, since her husband had died.  Her laugh was beautiful.  Clear, hearty, full, rich.  It was a sound he could become addicted to, he decided then and there. 

He reached across the table and held her hand, "Thank you for another wonderful day."

"Your welcome, I enjoyed it too.  Seeing the area through your eyes, your camera lens, so to speak, has given me a new lease on life.", she told him shyly. 

He could only hope that sometime in the next couple of weeks, that they would become more than friends.  He was falling in love with this woman, and wanted her in his life beyond this time they had been given.  He dare not say anything now, for fear she run off, like a scared deer. 

He asked what they would do and see tomorrow, and she had plans to take him to Jasper, so he could see the northern mountain park and the simple beauty of a working town.  Jasper was initially a railroad town, and that blue collar feeling was much more evident there than in Banff, which was much more cosmopolitan.  They made plans to check out of the cabins at Moraine Lake in the morning, and decided to share a two bedroom cabin, rather than rent two separate cabins or rooms.  She had friends in Banff that he could park his rental vehicle at, and they would take her SUV.  The plans were made, and each of them seemed satisfied that Jasper would provide them with some good photo ops. 

They drove back to Moraine Lake for the night, and promised to not get too early a start on the day, as it was late now.  A leisurely start to the day was in order.  He kissed her on the cheek again, and she watched him walk to his own cabin, yet again.  Tonight, however, she had a wistful look on her face, one that belied her true feelings.  She was falling in love with this handsome Texan. 
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