WAITING FOR JACK
By Melanie Simms
I used to be romance novel junkie. Love was all I lived for. I lived off Harlequin romance
books and believed that love was forever.
Prince Charming was more than just a fairy tale to me, and I kept my Lane Cedar Hope
Chest close to my bed. It was handmade by my father who remained married to my mother until
he died; in it I had laid lavender linings, filling it with linens, dishes, silver utensils, empty
wedding albums waiting to be filled and whatever other marital necessities might be required for
the day I would marry. I fantasized about my wedding as I placed each new purchase in my hope
chest, as if each new addition added to the power of my soon-to-be eternal marital bliss. My
marriage was to be a church wedding, and I would wear a long white dress, with a glorious train
carried by happy little girls with their own wedding dreams, wearing wreaths of pink and roses
and carnations in their hair. I dreamt of my handsome groom, dressed in a black and white
tuxedo, smiling nervously but happily.A string quartet played the Wedding March as I stepped
gracefully down the aisle towards our new life together as husband and wife. Even the blue birds
would sing for us outside the church window as we exited into the sunlight, heralding the news
of our betrothal.
After my divorce, I was shaken but still content. One divorce wasn’t so bad. I just needed a
new strategy and so I dated men organized by number in a rolodex, one for each weekend,
honing my perfectly planned excuses (feigned illnesses, late night classes, or family
emergencies) to avoid any doubts they might have of my fidelity. Love was my addiction and I
fed off each new flavor, relishing the experience of romantic diversity. I dated fearlessly. I was
Zelda the Conqueror on the Battlefield of Love playing love by the numbers in order to find the
perfect unfailing match.
I dated Colonels, and professors and a famous poet I’d met at a writers retreat; and I even
dabbled with a Russian anesthesiologist. Complex Intellectual men or men with creative minds
were the men I found myself attracted to, and each new date was an adventure, but left me
ultimately unfulfilled and unwilling to let my guard down.
But one day, I got knocked off my horse– I fell to my knees and hit the battlefield with a
resounding thud that shook the foundation of my smug self-certainty.
His name was Jack.
Jack was a Coast Guard officer who arrived dressed to kill in a black suit, black tie and
devastating smile. He was the King of Players on the battlefield, wielding his sincerity like a
master’s sword, cut from a mythical steel of the gods. He was a master of disguise and strategy,
whose shamanistic insights into your soul could bring even the shrewdest and most disillusioned
woman to her knees with a simple “hello.” His eyes pierced through your core, and something in
his presence reminded you of a time past, when you prayed penitent on your knees to God to
bring you your true love, and his arrival was the long awaited answer to that prayer. When I met
Jack, felt as though I finally knew who I was and who I was meant to become. My identity was
complete and the universe finally made sense to me.
On our first date, we strolled arm in arm, along the Susquehanna River under a big lemon
moon, listening to the river whisper its secrets in the night. Perhaps if I’d listened, the river
might have warned me. But I was smitten, and too confident to believe I could ever be betrayed.
And as he leaned in to kiss me again, an accompaniment of angels proclaimed our holy union.
This poet had finally met her match. Here was a man who could reach the depths of my soul at
only one meeting, and teach me more of myself in one night than I could have learned in a
lifetime. I could barely breathe as the blue of his eyes reflected the wisdom of the stars in the
sky. Here was the Holy Grail of lovers, and I had found him on Match.com.
Dates with Jack were more than just dates. Each moment with Jack felt suspended in time; a
miraculous connection that could make any self-proclaimed atheist believe in God. As though
confirming my suspicions, this handsome Coast Guard officer confessed, “I went to school to
become a priest. But I gave up the cloth when I realized I could never be as good as Jesus.”
And with the next kiss of his lips I silently thanked Jesus for being so hard to live up to.
As the dates progressed. Something about Jack became more and more familiar. He would
wonder the same.
“Mel, I feel like I have known you forever. You seem so familiar to me. I don’t know
why, but something about you reminds me of someone. Even as I first spoke to you, I
could feel your energies, it’s as though your spirit stirs me at the nucleus of my own
Something of my own instincts knew this to be true and our relationship invited the
bizarre into its bosom, as I would dream having flashes of memory of he and I, in a time older
I remembered ancient ships, with unfamiliar insignias that as I researched I realized to be
insignias of the Spanish Galleon. I felt it was all too fantastic to take in, but it refused to be
ignored. And so I contacted a psychic with the late Sylvia Brown’s office, who confirmed for me
that we were indeed lovers in a previous life, during a time of war in Spain and that he was
tragically lost at sea, and I had waited for him until my death. This was now God’s timing to
allow us a chance to reconnect in this new life. I checked with other psychics, uncertain of the
story, but when the same past life story was revealed by each and every psychic, without any
prompting from me. I couldn’t refute the evidence. I tried to tell Jack of our past, that he was a
man of the sea as he still was now, but he refused to believe me. Fearing my own sanity, I sought
a therapist who told me she too believed I waited for him till death and wanted to past life
regress me to relieve me from the pain. If they knew and I knew, why couldn’t he believe?
“I don’t believe in that Mel” Jack would say when I tried in vain to explain to him that
the spiritual world could have many meanings and translations through religion and faith;
however he remained adamant. “I’m a Christian Mel; I don’t believe in reincarnation.”
Unknowingly, my last date with Jack was a belated birthday visit. He was racing down
from his home in Gettysburg towards my former home in Liverpool, PA to celebrate my
birthday and then race back up the hundred mile trek to Gettysburg before the next leg of his
journey to check in early with the Philadelphia Coast Guard station. He drove me to Red Robin
for dinner, and as we dined on an expensive steak and shrimp dinner, Jack began to make me an
origami rose out of the white dinner napkin in front of us. “Here Mel. A rose just for you.” I was
touched by the handmade gesture and elegance of the design.
Shortly after carolers from the restaurant staff presented themselves with a birthday song, and
my favorite chocolate cake, ordered by Jack, vibrant with candles and pink frosting. As the
dinner festivities came to a close and we travelled Route 11 back up the Susquehanna we stopped
along the shore under the moonlight. As we kissed and the feelings of love and attraction once
again electrified the car, he said to me, “I’ll always love you Mel. I’ll love you forever. No
matter what happens.”
And then he was gone.
He simply stopped returning my calls. I’d heard some months later that was engaged to be
married to a girl he’d met at his church. The great love of my life was over, and my dreams
shattered. If a love as ancient and unique as this could be undone, then what chance would I ever
have of finding love in this lifetime? I sobbed fetal style, crying into the nights, praying to God
for his return. I begged for death, but was too strong or too cowardly to end my own life.
I shared these thoughts of suicide with a clairvoyant whom I’d begun to speak with regularly
and she said to me, “No! You do not want to end your life or it will not break you from a bad
returning karma. You will be faced lifetime after lifetime with this same issue. You killed
yourself in the last life when he didn’t return. You threw yourself into the sea from a cliff
overhang to be with him. It’s time to move on, Melanie. This is your new challenge with him and
for your own spiritual growth; you must learn to let go.
I tried to listen, but I couldn’t give up.
At the end of my earthly options I tried to bring him back spiritually.
At the urging of my doctor, I took a trip to visit my brother on the Island of Kauai where he
worked as a military police officer on the Pacific Missile Range Naval Base. I’d learned of a
Hawaiian custom from a book of ancient Hawaiian ceremonies I brought along for the plane ride,
to throw flowers into the ocean. The custom shares that when the sea brought the flowers back to
shore your lover would return. As the ocean was just across the street from my brother’s
apartment, I would go out every day, throwing flowers into the sea, in the hopes of his return,
watching as a procession of yellow illimia, pink lokelani and white kukui blossoms embarked
upon their dutiful journey towards its unknown destination.
I stopped dating, and waited for him, hoping he would come back. In time, I learned to forget, and to even be angry at his betrayal, after being given a divine second chance to be together.
I gradually started to date again, though no one could have compared with Jack. There was
never going to be another love to compare him to. What love could compete? I’d met one man
who was somewhat able to connect with me spiritually. He was a military historian with two
doctorates in military history and strategy. We dated off and on for years, though we never
married. Perhaps the bond we shared was that of two people who both understood the bitterness
and betrayals of past loves. But even that bond was not permanent. We eventually separated
ways because a bond of bitterness is not meant for permanence.
Perhaps the clairvoyant was right. What was important for me to remember was that loving
someone could be just as much about letting them go as trying to hold onto them and that love
can never be perfect or live up to the expectations we might hope for in this imperfect world.
And yet there are nights, when I walk along the Susquehanna River, listening to the river in the
moonlight, that I remember Jack’s kiss and the flowers I gave to the seas of Kauai and I find
myself hoping that someday, maybe even in another life, he will come back to me, if I just keep
About the Author:
Melanie Simms is an award winning author with over 200 publications to her credit. She is the author of two books of poetry, “Remember the Sun” (Sunbury Press) and Waking the Muse (Outskirts Press). Melanie served as a poet laureate for Perry County, Pa, and is a recipient of a Vermont Writers Studio Scholarship and second place in the Richard Savage poetry award (Bloomsburg University). She is listed in Who’s Who of Women in Publication. Melanie has been a guest on several radio and television programs to read and promote literature both locally and state wide. Currently she is pursuing her MFA at Seton Hill University, a Catholic liberal arts university in Greensburg, Pa. You can read more about Melanie at her website: https://poetmelaniesimms.wordpress.com/