When we finished, he paid the bill at the front desk counter in the main lobby. I picked up my lovely, little flower and went outside to enjoy my last few breaths of mountain air before we headed back to town.
I considered all the kindness she described, the politeness he exhibited over this meal, the trailer full of firewood he would give to families who, like Grace, lost men in their lives. I remembered the playfulness he showed while teaching me to fish, the fried chicken he cooked for our drive into the mountains, and the chocolate he left on my pillow. And yet, I could not reconcile any of this with his behavior last night. All signs pointed to a man of compassion, yet I still could not see the affection. The only conclusion I could grasp was that he harbored a deep capacity for love, just not for me.
I tried to hop into the truck when I saw him coming, but I found the door locked. Again, my city-girl habits made me feel silly. I waited, thinking he would trigger the remote when he saw me waiting. Instead, he walked over and unlocked it manually.
“You know, that picture she showed us, have you seen it?” I guessed it was not new to him.
“I gave it to her.” Not surprisingly, of course he would do that.
“It made me realize that you are way more brave than I am. You understand loss far more than I do. And you have a greater capacity for kindness than I’d wager anyone knows.”
He didn’t say anything, he just stood there looking at me, straight through my eyes, like the day I met him.
“Maybe one day you’ll find the right person for you – someone who shares your joys, understands your pain, and values how remarkably selfless you are.”
He still said nothing as I climbed into the truck. It made me sad that I would never understand that kind of love, not just for someone, but for everyone, as he did. It gave me something to work towards, and if I took nothing else away from this weekend, that seemed like a good lesson to begin a part of my new life.
I expected the last stretch of the drive, our last hour together, and the end of the weekend would be silent, but it would give me the chance to think about how much the experience changed me, and how much I belonged in Wyoming.