When I lay in bed, I clutch a large teddy to myself. It's an infantile reaction to my loss, but it helps. When I lie in that position, on my side, my legs pulled up in a semi-fetal position, I can almost feel Yves tucked up against me. When we were laying in bed, that night, that only night that we were together, he wrapped himself around me, his chest against my back, and he said, "I think this was the most perfect sleeping position ever invented. Because it allows me to kiss the back of your neck like this." And then he sent shivers down my spine as his lips brushed underneath my ear. He didn't stop there. He kissed the place where my neck met my shoulder, and then trailed his lips, in tiny increments that thrilled me not only with the sensation of the kiss but with the anticipation of the next, he moved his lips all the way down to the small of my back, and then turned me toward him so that he could kiss my belly. "I love this belly," he said.
I don't often find men with whom I'm sexually compatible. Of course, I find men who are perfectly content to fuck me, or be fucked, but, magazine bravado to the contrary, I don't often find men for whom sex is a passion. Certain men touch you as if they are you; so closely have they familiarized themselves with the female body that it's as if they've become female themselves. And no, the men who claim that they are lesbians are not the ones I'm talking about either. I'm fascinated by the inherent insecurity and shallowness I've encountered in men who consider themselves to be modern-day Casanovas. And there are other men who are so intimidated by women's bodies that they they never fully give themselves over to love-making. In fact, I've been told by more than one of those types of men that I'm too much woman, that I'm too voracious, or have too much of a sexual appetite for them. So, finding a man who has a passion for sex but is not a "dog" and who is secure giving himself completely over to the experience of making a woman happy is a rare, and wondrous, thing. Another thing to be pissed at the universe about.
Because it was incredibly clear that Yves and I were each other's sexual mirrors. To open myself up to the pleasure he was giving me, I had to trust him. I can imagine that for those who have never fallen into bed with someone on the first date, this may not make a lot of sense, but for someone like me, who is driven by her need to understand the world through knowledge filtered through her flesh, first-date sex has a certain ritualistic quality to it. It's when the date is outside the ritual, when it's clear that despite the short amount of time that has been spent together, there's real knowledge of the other there, that's when magic happens. And there was magic between Yves and me. Rough magic. Sweet magic. Sexual magic.
And I'm upset that I lost that, too. That one is hard to admit, because it makes me sound so shallow. "Oh I miss Yves because he was great in bed." But it's true. Sexual compatibility can be more difficult to find than someone you can simply talk to. Because true sexual compatibility presumes, I think already, that you can talk to this person.
When I put my hand on the urn, it warmed under my hand, and I remembered us curling our hands together at the restaurant. And that look. That look in his eyes when his mouth was between my legs and he was watching me experience all the pleasure he was giving me. These were the words I wrote at the memorial service in the black notebook I had brought with me. On the table that in a religious context would have been considered an altar, there was a photo of Yves—in it he stared into the camera with a puckish glint in his eyes. Next to the photo was the urn containing his terrestial remains—the charred bits of bone and flesh that were all that was left of him. I stayed away from the urn for much of the meet-and-greet part of the service. I was introduced to dozens of people who had loved Yves and who wanted to meet the woman who had been with him when he died. When I finally got an opportunity to approach the urn, I stood, my hand resting upon the urn, my eyes locked with his. I knew that look. And that was what I wrote in my notebook.
No one approached me while I stood next to the urn. It was as if I had been given a cordon sanitaire, or perhaps, more aptly, an asile sacré, a sacred sanctuary where I could be alone with him in the midst of all those people. Around me, people talked, looked at the collages of photos that had been positioned throughout the room, held each other's hands, hugged. It wasn't as if I was watching them, but I was aware that I was not alone in the room. And yet, for the period of time that I stood there—somewhere, I think, between two minutes and twenty—it was just him and me.
The urn was silver, and intricate scrolls traversed it. It had texture, and I stayed my hand from caressing the urn. It would have been easy to do. To rub it, to touch it, to try to bring it to life. I have enough experience with caressing flesh and causing it to change under my hand; I think I was self-conscious enough to know that standing in front of the crowd and stroking Yves' urn would have been too crude an act. But, in my head, there was nothing crude about it. I wanted to unscrew the lid from the urn, plunge my hand into the ashes there, and become sticky with Yves. I wanted to take a handful of those ashes and put them in my pocket, carry him with me for the rest of my life.
Anne Lamott has written about tasting the ashes of a friend. I am not certain I could have done that, I think, sucked the ashes from the end of my fingers, but certainly I can imagine that, given the opportunity, I might have done.