This was breaking Michael’s heart in two pieces. But what else could he do? He would leave the larger portion behind with his young bride, Maria. The smaller would reluctantly follow him to America. In the United States of America he would be free to work and save the money needed to send for his wife. He would labor relentlessly night and day eating just enough crumbs to survive, saving every penny. He would have Maria with him in no more than six months time, he calculated.
At the last call to board the ship he kissed his beautiful Maria long and hard, as if to drink in enough of her very essence to last him a lifetime. Even her tears tasted of the sweetest wine to him.
“I love you.” She quivered. “And I worry you will be so lonely all by yourself.”
“But I will not be alone. God is with me, with us, always and wherever we are. You will be with me, also, here.” He placed a hand to his chest.
“Goodbye, Michael.” She said as he started to move away from her.
“No, Maria, don’t say ‘goodbye’. Say ‘Bon Voyage’.”
“Bon Voyage, my husband, Bon Voyage.” She repeated as he ascended the ramp backwards, not taking his eyes from hers.
“Bon Voyage!” she waved both hands in the air and began to trot along side the departing ship until she reached the railing at the end of the dock. “Bon Voyage.” She whispered, wiping the stinging wetness from her face. Michael was now a mere dot among hundreds of other dots. Then Maria yelled one last time as loudly as she could “Bon Voyage, my husband. I love you!”
That was sixty years ago. Three months later, with Maria by his side, they began their new life together in America. With the help and mercy of the almighty God they had shared a long, happy and prosperous life including four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Now it was Maria’s time to make a trip leaving him behind to wait. Everyone had gone home for the night except Michael. He sat beside her in the semi-darkened room reflecting over their life and considering what it would be like after she had gone. He wondered if this is how she felt all those years ago as he left her standing on the dock.
“Michael? Michael?” Maria called faintly.
“I am here.” He took her hand. “You are not alone, dear.”
“No, I am never alone. Remember when you said this to me a long time ago? God is with me always.” She paused for breath. “You are a good husband and a good father, Michael, a good man. You are a Godly man.” She paused again. “I can see a ship, Michael, a beautiful white ship. He is calling me. I have to go now.” In the light from the moon glimmering through the window she found his eyes with hers. “Kiss me, my husband.”
He kissed her gently. “I love you, Maria.”
She exhaled long and slow, closing her eyes.
“Goodbye, my dear.” He whispered in her ear, wiping the stinging wetness from his face.
Maria drew a breath and looked at him saying softly, “This is not goodbye, Michael.”
“I know, I know. Bon voyage, my sweet Maria. Bon Voyage.”
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