04 – The Readiness is All

Grissom finally makes a decision on what to do about his own life — and Sara. 

Part of the Metamorphosis Series. Follows “Stasis,” “The Rest is Silence,” and “Guilt or Grief” and takes place during and post episode 908, “Young Man with a Horn,”

circa early December 2008

 *******

Unsurprisingly, in Las Vegas peace is something far more often devoutly to be wished than actually found. The advent of night sadly brings no noticeable change in the din except perhaps to serve to increase it — and the madness that seems to ever accompany the darkness.

Although it seems that everything these days brings out the worst in Vegas.  Or perhaps it is just Vegas that brings out the worst in people and so seldom the best.

While the town has always had a sense of wildness to it, over the last fourteen years since I first arrived, it has escalated with all the changes. The influx of tourists and hotels and the endless amounts of ready entertainment have further converted it into a giant theme park for adults that never seem to close and where the usual rules no longer apply.  So even with the dark and the heat there never seems to be an end to the frenetic restlessness. 

Without my usual haunts and havens, I feel it more, that frantic hyperactive heartbeat.

And I find I am tired. Tired of the bright lights and bustle. Tired of the long nights and even longer days. I am tired of seeing only the worst and never the best.

For after a while you begin to loose your faith in humanity. It isn’t hard when all you see is murder and hate, sorrow and hurt, disappointment and regret.

As I finally begin to make my way out of Desert Palms, I cannot help but think of the pair of star-crossed lovers I have left upstairs, of Harry Bastille and Karen Rosenthal and how for over fifty years all they had was the remembrance of the last place where they were happy. Although even with all those years of wanting and not being able to have, with only those brief passing memories to keep them, their love still remained, remains even yet. You can see it in their faces. 

Maybe things won’t change for them. Maybe it is too late, even if the world has changed and what was once impossible no longer is, but perhaps not. 

And then perhaps that air of resignation and reluctant sorrow will no longer haunt them the way it haunts me now.

I cannot help but think of my own life and wonder as I stand here on the other side of fifty, where my life has gone.

In some ways, I feel cheated, that I have cheated myself out of so many years of joy and happiness by cloistering myself away. I suppose I felt that it was easier that way, maybe even prudent, because the hard truth is that once you open yourself up, you do so not just to hope and love and joy and all the wonders of life, but to all the pain and heartache and loss as well.

What I didn’t realize, what I am just beginning to understand, is that it is worth it; that I was just being foolish and am continuing to be so.

Yet that knowing doesn’t change the past, doesn’t change all the choices I’ve made and the decisions I have failed to make. It doesn’t change the fact that all I feel is regret for all those wasted years before we got together you and I, for all the time we could have had, the days and weeks and months and years worth, if only I hadn’t been so afraid to lose that I didn’t dare to have in the first place.

But it is the days and weeks and months and more since you left Vegas that give me the most pause. Especially of those that have passed since you left that second time.

I may have had an excuse before, a flimsy one perhaps, but an excuse still, in that before, I didn’t know what it was like to be with you: the peace and ease and comfort that came with loving and being loved by you. But since then, I don’t have that ignorance to hide behind; just my own fears and what I mistakenly have believed are my good intentions. That and my irrational tendency to just shut down and pretend nothing horrible is happening because it is far easier to hide my head in the sand and act like it isn’t, than it is to deal with the fact that sometimes I don’t have all the answers or have a clue how to find them or even understand anything at all anymore.

But of all my regrets, Sara, loving and being loved by you aren’t one of them.

When I reach into my wallet to retrieve the parking stub to have it validated on my way out to the garage, the thin margins of creme colored note paper that peek out from behind a row of business cards catch my eye and my heart almost stops and I have to sit down and catch my breath.

It isn’t that I have forgotten that I have ever since you first left, kept that last letter of yours folded up in my wallet. It has just been a long while since I have pulled out and held that bit of comfort in my hands as I do now.

Even after all this time, I find it still far easier to face these words of yours than the ones from that video message you more recently sent. The truth is I am still not sure about how I feel about that email of yours, still don’t quite know what to do about it, so it just sits there in my inbox, even after all my other messages have been cleared out, waiting for me to reply.

But these pages’ well-worn creases are familiar, reassuring even in the contradictory ways they evoke both consolation and ache. For they remind me of all the times I have unfolded and then carefully refolded them again, which is a strange and wholly unnecessary action, as I don’t need to look at them to know what they say; I haven’t for a long time. But there is just something in having the feel of the paper in my hands, as if I can, silly as that may sound, still feel the remains of the warmth of your fingers upon it.

I close my eyes and begin to recall, which isn’t difficult, for every loop and curl of your never all that neat handwriting has long been burned into my memory. I know every word, like I know Shakespeare or Poe, better even, as these are your words and are a treasure beyond value.

Gil –

Each and every time, with those three letters, I cannot help but smile, for it is as if I can hear your voice saying them and I never could get enough of hearing you say my name, nor the way it almost made me stop breathing each and every time.  

And for the first time in a long time, the thought of you does not bring with it a pang of loss only a sense of warm longing.    

You know I love you.

Yes, I do. Maybe we didn’t say the actual words that often and maybe I should have, but there just never really seemed to be the need. But I knew. I always knew. It was in every look (good and bad), in every touch, in every kiss we’ve ever shared.

I feel like I have loved you forever.

I don’t know when I first started loving you, or why or how or any of it really. All I know is I did, and I do, and was startled to find that no matter how hard I tried, I never could stop.

For I did try. I tried. For days and weeks and months and years, I tried so hard not to love you. Until I finally gave up trying not to and simply allowed myself to accept that for better or worse, for all the complications or no, I love you.

Of course loving you hasn’t always been any easier. But perhaps it isn’t supposed to be.

Lately, I haven’t been feeling very well. Truth be told, I’m tired.

And so am I.

I am so tired. Tired of this half-life I have been living since your leaving. I want to do more than just perform the routine motions of my life until the moment I die.

And I have felt for far too long a stranger in my own skin. 

…I realized something, and I haven’t been able to shake it.

Despite everything I have tried, how hard I have tried to pretend, it comes down to the truth that lies in this: I am not getting my old life back.

That realization has been a bitter pill to swallow. 

Things are not going to go back to the way they were before Natalie took you; I am not going to just wake up some morning to find you beside me and when I go into work Warrick will never be standing there in the locker room joking with Nick. That life is gone. Warrick is gone. Nothing I can say or do can change that.

But you, you may be gone, but it doesn’t have to be forever. I know you won’t be coming back here, but that doesn’t mean I can never see you. That it is really better this way.

No, I am not getting my old life back. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a new life, even a better life.

But I have to be willing to do it. I do.

Part of me wants to ask Heather how she did it. How did she let go of everything she knew.

But I already know the answer. For it is the answer my heart has always been telling me if I would just let it.

You just do.

…I’ve spent my entire life with ghosts.

That’s what I have been for so long, for all those wasted years that I can never get back — a ghost — a phantom who haunted the halls of the lab, an apparition who spent more time with the dead than with the living because the dead were less likely to cause you pain. I was simply a specter who incessantly chased the how because the why was often just too heart-rending to bear.

But now, I am tired of chasing phantoms and ghosts.

What kind of life is that?

For you. For me. For us.

I want a real life. I want to be with you and only with you for always.

Sometimes, I really still can see you as vividly as if you were here with me, but Sara, I do not want to have to learn to live with only the memory of you.

For I do remember. The way a smile would light up your face. How your eyes would deepen and darken and yet brighten and grin all at once. The touch of your hand on mine.  The way you would make my heart flutter on the still all far too rare occurrences that you would call me Gil.  The peace you grant when all the world is chaos. The moments of stillness. How everything just was with you.

But I want more than just the phantom of you, I want the real you, no matter if that means that I have to find other rooms to haunt.

It was time for me to bury them. 

I buried my feelings for you for so long, kept them under lock and key, set up the walls and barriers that I had hoped would hold and almost had.

I dissected my own life, placed this part of it into that jar and that one into another. As if I could separate my life with you, my work life, my life outside of work with the team, my hobbies and still have a whole life. No wonder I feel like my life is full of pieces. I have been partitioning it off like that for years, to the point where my past looks rather disturbingly a lot like the inside of my office: neat, orderly, with everything so carefully contained like specimens on display.

But in the end, my feelings for you never would stay in those carefully constructed compartments. They kept spilling out into my dreams and waking worlds, into my work, until they began to permeate through my entire life, whether I wanted them to or not, whether I was ready for them to or not.

So when you left, it was just easier to pack up all my loss and confusion along with the love because it just hurt too much and I tried to lock all those feelings up again.

But it was a bit like Pandora’s box. Once you open it and let everything fly out, you can’t cram everything back into that tiny box again and I find I can no longer parcel my life into boxes; place this part of my life into this jar and that part into another.

I no longer want to.

I want to let my love for you flow through all of my life. For it to return the warmth and light that your presence has always brought.

Instead, I find that

I’m so sorry.

I am so sorry for so many things.

For so long I thought I was doing the right thing, but in the end, I only succeeded in hurting you, in hurting both of us.

Sara, I love you. I need you. And I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to realize just how much. And finally what to do about it.

And I do have to wonder if I am too late.

Too late…

How well I remember you telling me that by the time I figured out what to do, it really would be too late.

For a long time, I feared that pronouncement would prove prophetic, but after we had settled into that hard-won and yet infinitely comfortable intimacy, I thought I could put that old fear aside.

Turns out that bit of optimism has proven dangerous and costly.

It has cost me you, perhaps not completely, but it still has.

I have to do this.

I know I have long maintained that the hardest thing to do sometimes is to do nothing, but I am not so quickly learning that there are times when it is far harder to gather up the courage to do something.

But the time has come. It has.

If I don’t, I’m afraid I’ll self-destruct…

I have to do this. Not just if I want a chance in hell of being with you again, but if I want to have a chance just to be again.  For my life – for me – to be more than just my job. For me to be able to live and breathe and be again.

Be safe.

Safe.

You know I long for nothing more than to lie in your arms, safe and secure, loved and at peace once more. 

Know you are my one and only.

You have always been that for me. For with you I have found a freedom and love like I have never known. Freedom to be myself without fear or censure. Freedom not just to be needed and wanted and loved, but to be free to allow myself to need and want and love.

In that way, you really have brought out the best in me. For I have never been all that comfortable in cultivating my heart. But you, you helped me learn to live there and not just in my head. 

You have been light and warmth, so much so, that in your absence I have only found it dark and cold.

I will miss you with every beat of my heart.

How long has it been?

Ten weeks since you were last here with me. Thirty-one days since I last heard from you and not more than five minutes since I last thought of you.

But it’s not about just not being alone, this longing. It is about wanting to be with you, for I find I miss you, need you, now more than I ever have before.

I need your soft smiles, even those mischievous ones you get from time to time. I need your gentle touch that is the only thing that seems to be able to keep the chaos at bay. I need your understanding, for you are the only one who ever really has; your patience (and impatience, too). I need that tender heart of yours that has taught me so much about how to feel. I need that steadfast strength that is so hard to break, the one that has seen us both through so very much.

But most of all I need you. 

Our life together has been the only home I’ve ever really had.

You taught me that home is not four walls and a roof and a floor no matter how covered and populated the space may be. Nor is home conveyed in the brightness of the paint or light or in the presence of things of memories.

No. If home is where the heart is, then my home is with you wherever you are, for that is where my heart and thoughts have been all this time — with you.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I have to wonder, were things really beyond my control? For so long that is what I have tried to tell myself, that everything that happened with Natalie, with you going, with Warrick, and all that happened after, that it was all beyond my control. That this was just my fate.

But fate means that you have no choice. That you don’t get to choose.

The truth is I can change, if I choose to change.

My mother always used to say that in the end, you had but two choices in this life. You could live in hope or you can live in fear.

I have already wasted so much of my life living in fear. It is time to choose hope.

And how I hope that it is not too late for me to try and cross that empty gulf of time and space and ache that stretches between us.

No more can’ts and couldn’ts. No more excuses.

For if you sit around waiting for life and love to be perfect, for everything to be grand and wonderful, for there to be no uncertainties, for there to never be arguments or silly fights, no hurt feelings or wrong things said, you are going to be waiting for a very long time. In fact, you will always be waiting and never get to the having part.

And I have spent far too much of my life being so scared that I didn’t dare to do.

I wasn’t ready when you left to go — not the first time and sadly, not any more the second. Perhaps because I didn’t understand the whys — your reasons for going, my reasons for staying, but now I would trade everything – everything – for just five more minutes with you. Hell, for just one more look, one more touch, one more breath and moment with you. For just one more kiss.

It wasn’t that there hadn’t been kisses when you were here last, but it was that one kiss, the one in the lab hallway, that one I didn’t know would be one of those last kisses, that haunts me most.

If I had known…

How I didn’t, I don’t know.

Not a day goes by, when I don’t wonder why I hadn’t picked up on what was going on sooner. With Warrick, perhaps it was vaguely understandable; but with you it was utterly inexcusable. I should have known.

For a man who has prided himself, who has made a career of following the evidence, I sure as hell hadn’t been paying attention to the warning signs until it was too late. Until you were gone, leaving behind only the words

I love you. I always will. 

Sara, if there were but words, then I could say all the things I have so long longed to say and there would not stretch between us this great seemingly impenetrable wall of silence.

But I don’t know the words.

If we were together, perhaps a look, a touch could convey so much, but with only ink and paper or the click of keystrokes to pass as emissaries between us, it seems that only words will suffice.

Though for some times there are no words.

Does that make our silences less painful or only more?

I don’t know.

But I do know that I do not want to be left with

Good-bye.

Why anyone ever thought there was anything good about good-byes I will never know.

There was certainly nothing good about your going.

I remember Catherine telling me that I should go after you. And me so readily replying that it wasn’t what you wanted. But as I reach the end of your letter, I realize that you never did tell me that you didn’t want me to come. Yes, you said you couldn’t stay, but you never said not to come.

And when I hazard to replay your latest message in my mind, as I force myself to get past the pain of hearing you say sometimes not making a decision is making a decision, I realize, too, that even then you didn’t say don’t come. You may have asked me not to worry about you, but you never said good-bye. You never said stay away. You never said it was over.

Besides, maybe it is time for me to stop trying to do what I think you want or need. Time for me to let go of all of those stupid good intentions that I am quickly beginning to see why they say that the road to hell is paved with.

What is the road to heaven paved with I wonder?

My phone chirps before I can come up with a reply, abruptly bringing my reverie to an end.

I sigh, but pick it up anyway. It is Catherine, wanting to check on the status of the case.

I tell her it’s been closed, a pronouncement that she thankfully accepts without question. Instead, she asks if I am on my way home as she maintains, I am not coming back to the lab to hide in my office for the rest of the night.

I tell her that for once that wasn’t what I had in mind. And it isn’t.

Still when she suggests we meet for a drink, I think I am as equally as surprised as she is that I say yes, and before she clicks off, we agree to meet on Freemont Street.

When not more than half an hour later we do, we quickly decide that as it is one of those rare beautiful December nights, to walk and talk for a while first. After the string of doubles we have both been working lately, both of us just need a little time to unwind.

I find I have missed being able to talk with Catherine like this. It has been a long time, too long perhaps.

And for once, I do not resent her attempts to get me to open up, or her curiosity as to why I came to Vegas in the first place. And there is a strange comfort in talking about the past. 

Well, most of the time. For just as I know Catherine isn’t just talking about poker when she asks me when was the last time I played, I know I am not telling her the truth when I say I don’t remember.

For a I do. I remember the last time I played, I really played, risk and all. It was that day with you and the bees when I asked you to marry me.

I have to confess that particular proposal was rooted more in impulse than in planning. It just seemed like the right thing to do, and I don’t regret it. And honestly, I was surprised that you said yes. Pleased, infinitely pleased, but still surprised. For it wasn’t something we had ever really talked about, not privately.

But your face lit up in a way I hadn’t seen it do for months and I couldn’t help but beam in return, for that was one of those rare moments in life of unabashed joy. It was as if Natalie and the desert and all the changes after had never happened, as if we had in that moment our entire lives in front of us.

Yes, that was perhaps one of the few times I simply listened to my heart rather than try to dissect and decide everything with my head.

Perhaps it is time to risk that again.

For I suppose life is a bit like poker. While you have to play the hand that is dealt to you, you still have the choice to fold or raise the stakes and in the end, call.

*******

Hank is curled up asleep at my feet, snoring deep rumbling almost-contented snores as if he knows that something is about to change and hopefully for the better. 

As I pull up my email, I wonder what message I should send to you.

I want to tell you my heart is heavy. I wish I could be with you.

But the time for wishing is over, as is the time for letters and emails and phone calls. What I have to say is something that can only be conveyed face to face. It is far too important to do any other way.

Even if I don’t know what your response will be, if you will refuse to see me, or just slam the door in my face, or tell me that is just too late, it doesn’t matter, I still have to do this.

For us.

For you.

But most of all for myself.

I need to stand there and tell you that I had to come.

That maybe it is too late, but I wanted you to know that I made a decision.

I choose life.

I choose you.

I choose us.

If you will still have me.

So I begin typing:

 

To: Conrad Ecklie, Assistant Director, Las Vegas CSI

From: Gil Grissom

Re: Resignation

 

*******

Series Continued in Cake

*******

Have a question or want to leave a comment or concern and don’t have a wordpress account? Please feel free to email me at kadhmercer@gmail.com

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. shantiangel
    Feb 01, 2009 @ 14:39:16

    Sorry I didn’t get to this sooner. Saturday was busy – details to follow. This is absolutely beautiful and so very believable. No one can get into Grissom’s head like you can. You and the Pookah created perfection. Marcia

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