Sally’s Bridge by Doug Booth
by Doug Booth
The phone rang, Sally was late – Sally was never late, not in our 27 years together – never. She was learning Spanish to better serve homeless Latinas, but she hadn’t arrived at class yet – something was wrong.
I jumped into my Jeep, careening down the drive, hitting my electric gate as I barreled through.
A light snow had fallen that early morning of April 7th. I drove as fast as I could. Then I saw it… eight State Police officers blockading the I-25 bridge, forcing traffic to detour… and I knew.
“Bridge freezes before highway”, says the warning sign. I drove up to the cops, asking them what happened. They asked my name then the name of my wife. One senior officer came up and took me aside telling me Sally had been in a single-car crash – it was fatal. With disbelief I asked him the model of her vehicle, which was down the hill out of sight – her red Toyota pick-up
How did I feel? The sweetest, dearest woman of my dreams, the woman with whom I was going to live out my life was dead – gone. The reality slowly sank in as I began sobbing, then wailing, walking in circles in the snow, unable to breathe, unable to think. So this is hell.
Sally and I met at a food-coop picnic in L.A. and soon fell in love. She was a struggling actress and I a poor law student. We loved dancing, good films, wild art, avant garde plays and books, making love and traveling the world together. But, this pain was like nothing I’d ever known.
But, I had to see her again. I dashed around the officers to find her truck beneath the bridge. But, two young Troopers ran fast, grabbing me gently, preventing me from seeing what I did not want to see – my guardian angels in grey.
Sally had asked me that morning if I wanted to drive into town with her. But, I was sitting happily by the fire writing. I looked at her reluctantly, and she said kindly “never mind”, kissing me goodbye – for the last time. I blamed myself for not having gone with her, for I would have driven and I was the better driver.
A good friend consoled me later repeating to me, “Doug, it couldn’t have been otherwise”. “But”, I objected, “what if…” “Doug, it couldn’t have been otherwise.” It was her time to go and all the love in the world couldn’t change that. Her work was done on this plane – she had crossed Sally’s Bridge.
Now, when I pass Sally’s Bridge I say a prayer for her. I reckon she’s doing fine. Her beautiful, loving nature, and the work she did insure that – no question. It’s the rest of us who must deal with the pain, honoring her with our grief, our tears and our joy at wondering what new adventures she must be living.
Standing before you tonight, I recall many of the faces in attendance from Men’s Wellness, who came to Sally’s memorial. Many of you are in this room tonight. You were there for me and Sally, to hold us in your hearts.
Should anyone ask what NM Men’s Wellness is about – now you know.