27 August 2009

The Music Starts, Chapter Four

This was the one and only time during his mission that Tim pulled rank. There was no request, no negotiating. Just an instruction to Aaron's senior companion that next Monday they would swap companions. Again. Stephens wasn't completely dim; he knew Tim was going home next week and would want to spend his last day with Aaron.

They met at the mission office. Tim was a hurricane of mixed emotions inside. He wanted to linger and visit and say goodbye to all his mission buddies and former companions, some he knew he wouldn't see again for a long time, if ever. And he also wanted to duck out as quickly as possible with Aaron and spend every precious moment possible with him until 5 pm, when mission rules required the companionship swap back again. Tim didn't even want to think about it.

It was past 11 am by the time he broke away and practically raced with Aaron for the door. Destination: Aston Hall, a huge English country mansion that'd been turned into a hotel, where Tim's parents had booked a suite for the next three nights. It was set amidst a beautiful park. A place for Tim to wander one last time through history and peaceful gardens with the person he loved more than anyone else in the world. For all Tim knew, he would never have this chance again.

The boys were lucky. The day was bright and warm. It was early August, the sun was high and clear, and the trees and grass of the park round Aston Hall were a rich emerald green. They wandered through the gardens and talked about anything and everything. Mission experiences. Going home and what each might do then. What the future held. How lucky they were to have found each other. Tim's heart glowed as bright as the sun as he & Aaron strolled through that idyllic, pastoral place. In such surroundings, with Aaron by his side, Tim thought he finally knew what heaven must be like. Decorum and mission rules kept Tim from showing Aaron everything he felt, but he'd never been closer to doing so in his life than during those last precious hours.

Eventually they found their way into the hotel, and were shown to the suite Tim's parents had booked. They had probably landed in London by then for their connecting flight to Birmingham. Tim and Aaron walked around the suite, a corner bedroom with a view of the park and dressing rooms on either side. In his two years in England Tim had not seen a room so lavish, so grandiose. He and Aaron had forgotten such places existed. They sat in the window seat together and looked out over the park, feeling like they'd been transported into another world, one which Tim would soon enter permanently, leaving Aaron behind. It had been easy in the park as they walked through the sunlit green paths to savor the immeasurable delight of Aaron's company, but now, in that hotel room, the looming presence of his parents approaching, Tim felt almost torn apart inside. He loved his parents, yes, and was keen to see them after two years. But he loved Aaron too in a way he'd never loved anyone, and he could hardly bear to think of separating.

Tim sat silently looking out the window for a long time. Aaron, easy-going and affable as ever, understood and sat patiently nearby, silent, with an occasional pat on Tim's back or gentle squeeze of his shoulder. "I know," he seemed to say.

By now it was getting late. Tim got up, and they slowly walked out of the suite, down the stairs, out the main door, and had one last walk through the park--a walk that would stay in Tim's memory for the rest of his life. The sunlight, the trees, the brilliant blue sky, the fresh air, and Aaron next to him, a blend of complete happiness and love and contentment, made the more precious because it was so fleeting. It was the perfection of a snowflake or a Chopin nocturne, matchless in its beauty but far too brief, springing to life for a moment and then fading away. Robert Frost was right: nothing gold can stay.

They reached the mission office where Stephens and Hemsworth were waiting. Tim kept his composure but inside he was practically falling apart. Just a few months ago Aaron had walked into his life and turned it upside down, and now Tim had to walk away. He and Aaron went into a side room for their last talk. Neither could say much, but words didn't matter. They embraced, held each other closely for a long time in silence. Tim thought of David & Jonathan, weeping as they parted from each other. He understood.

There was a commotion outside, and Tim recognized his mom's voice. The time had come for Tim to move on. He and Aaron held each other till the last possible moment, then Tim turned and opened the door to greet his parents. He made introductions all round with as big a smile as he could muster, but didn't hear much of what was said as he watched Aaron slowly walk away, turn, wave, and then disappear through the door.

Several days of playing tour guide for his parents followed as they worked their way south to London. Tim had a window seat on the flight, and his face was pressed to the glass as the plane gathered speed on the runway. When the wheels finally lifted off, Tim could hold it all in no longer, and he shook with sobbing as the plane lifted into the air, his mother tossing Kleenex after Kleenex into his lap. Tim was sure that his wonderful parents were, for the moment, clueless.

Weeks later, installed at his BYU apartment and school starting, Tim felt completely disoriented. He missed Aaron so much he could hardly stand it. More than once he fell asleep on a pillow soaked with tears. He marveled at how much more difficult it was to come home from the mission than to leave for it, especially because of who he'd left behind. He wrote to Aaron immediately of course and eagerly awaited a reply.

And suddenly, one day, there it was.


A.J. said...

wow I can totally relate.

Ben said...

Wow. That was a powerful read. I can't help but wonder what happens next.

off topic:

btw, alan, my email is boskers8686@gmail.com

I'd be happy to talk about music with you! :)

Beck said...

Okay... now this is getting personal. Are you sure you didn't plagiarize my journal? :)

live honest said...

Beck wondere if you had plagerized his missionary journal. I could ask the very same thing, except that I was a sister missionary. Yet, I had the very same experiences with two of my mission companions. By the way, is this story you are sharing autobiographical? And, did you serve your mission in England? I served my full-time mission in Southern Europe, then my second mission (a Stake Mission) in England while I lived and worked there. I love your story, especially with it being set in England. It brings back great memories! Thank you!

live honest said...

Oh, no- seems like I do not know how to spell plagiarize correctly! And, this coming from the person who wants people to use the English language correctly! So sorry about the spelling error. And, I have enjoyed chapter 5.