"Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love."
~Hamlet's letter to Ophelia
What if there were no more words?
I remember thinking that, one night when the hour was none, when I was just laying in my bed, listening to the soft, secret sound of the rain.
When you're alone, rain can sound like the beginning of a loneliness that reaches toward forever. It can be cold, and unforgiving.
When you're with someone, when you love, rain takes on a whole different meaning. It's a long sigh of contentment, it's the two of your bodies together in a warm house, safe and sleepy and together.
I could feel him shift behind me, and pull me close. I remember smiling, knowing that his body was right there behind me, that the rain was falling outside, and it was our secret.
I felt my eyes burn a little, my throat tightened with appreciation at what I had lying next to me. I was so grateful in that moment, so happy, that I couldn't sleep. I didn't want it to slip away. I wanted to savor it, to appreciate it for everything it was. I wanted to listen to the rain, to the soft sounds of him sleeping, sharing the night with me, loving me. With those thoughts at the top of my mind, I fell asleep.
The next day when we were watching tv, I turned it off. I just couldn't shake this idea, so I said to him, "If we could never say another word to each other again, if that happened, do you think you'd still know that I love you?"
He looked at me, seriously thinking about it. Finally, he nodded. "And if I could never talk, I'd want you to know that I love you just as much," he added, "probably more," he grinned at me.
So I said it. I asked him to go along with an idea I had. I expected him to laugh, because it was laughable, but when I said it, his eyes were thoughtful, and he agreed.
We'd refer to it as the quiet game.
The first time, it was only for the space of about twenty minutes. Neither one of us could talk, but we could laugh. Telling me I couldn't laugh was like telling me I couldn't breathe.
It kind of became our thing.
I know it sounds silly, but it was anything but. The idea was to convey what you were feeling with no words. Sounds easy, right?
The first time we just kind of sat there and looked at each other. Laughing, mostly. But, after awhile, it was a game we played together. Often.
The most memorable time for me was the time we had a fight. We had that fight, the kind that can end a relationship. We just couldn't get past it, and neither one of us was willing to leave it alone.
Afterwards, we were both emotional.
He took my hand, and said, "Let's play the quiet game." I nodded. As fragile as things were between us, words were too easy to use to cut each other.
He got up, turned on the cd player in his apartment, and played me this song:
It was the first time I'd heard that particular song, and as the song played, I remember my eyes filling up with tears, the way they're filling up right now.
Sometimes he just didn't understand, but sometimes it was like he could see into that place in my heart, the place where I keep all my secrets.
He sat on the couch next to me, took my hand, and placed it firmly over his heart, covering it with his own. I could feel the strong, steady beat. It was a promise, it was his silence telling me everything important. I stopped listening to the jagged beat of words in my head, and I listened with my heart instead.
He didn't always say the right thing, sometimes there just aren't words, I've since learned. It was what he said with his silence, with touches of his hand, his eyes saying everything that his mouth couldn't.
So, I did the only thing I could do. I took his other hand, and put it over my heart.
We didn't need words, we never did. I'd forgotten that sometimes words can negate love. So, he reminded me.
We said our apologies with our eyes, with our hands. We said our 'I love yous' with each beat of our hearts. Our silence was the beginning of forgiveness.