Sixth Stage

Eve sat alone looking around her empty house. It was deafeningly quiet. In the year since her husband died, it had been a whirlwind of must dos. She went through every stage they say and busily performed all the never-ending diligence tasks to punctuate the paperwork end of someone’s life. Now she confronted the last stage—to live her life again.

Starting over in new surroundings without the echos and ghostly reminders of her past life, Eve moved into an adult community with facilities and planned activities.

“Mom, you have to put yourself out there. There’s a lot of things to do here,” her daughter Carrie said, reading the club newsletter.

“I just don’t know what to do. I’ve never done anything before,” Eve sighed.

That wasn’t the exact truth. When Eve was younger, she was very active with volleyball, golf and tennis clubs and had many “parents of her kids’ friends.” But her social life revolved around her kids and family-type events.

And since the kids were long out of the house and a broken-down body made most of her former past-times impossible or obsolete. She was struggling with ideas to get started.

“It’s like the first day in a new school. I don’t know anyone and have forgotten how to make friends,” Eve said frustrated and defeated.

“The best thing to do is just show up for something, try anything. Friends will follow, but you have to try,” Carrie said and left the newsletter with Eve.

“Just try…” Eve said mimicking Carrie’s words as they lay like a weight on her chest. “It’s easy to say.”

Eve put the newsletter on her kitchen counter and stared at it for a few days, taunting every time she passed it. She picked it up and then put it down a thousand times, exasperated at the challenge of creating a new life.

Since she was eighteen years old, she did everything for and with her husband and family. Now, sixty years later, it was a mountain she never wanted to climb. She really believed she would go first.

Her family’s words rang in her head like church bells chiming the new hour. Find a hobby, join a club, just pick one thing.

“Just one thing,” Eve said and picked up the newsletter.

There were a lot of activities. Movie nights, crafts, cards, everything at her fingertips, but nothing to get her to cross the threshold into her next act.

“I need to be brave and just pull up my big-girl panties and just go there,” she said flinging the newsletter to the ground.

She got in her car and drove to the clubhouse holding her breath but determined to try. Walking around she passed the fitness room and noticed a few people on exercise machines. Not a match. She peaked into the arts room and watched some ladies pouring paint from dixie cups onto canvasses.

“Looks kind of interesting, but arts were never my thing,” she puckered her face and moved down the hall to the dance studio.

Eve admired those who could still dance. As a teen, she loved to be bop until she dropped at sock hops, but bad knees made that reboot beyond possibility.

After she walked past the dance studio, she was still hearing music. Curiously, she looked around with no luck. Finally, she asked someone where the music was coming from.

“Oh, that’s the choir,” a man said. “They practice in the community room.”

The choir? Those words resounded in her mind like heavenly horns announcing a king.

Eve was excited for the first time in forever. Music was a long-forgotten friend from a bygone era. As a child, she sang in church and school choirs. She became quite good and even ranked number one in a state competition as a soprano soloist. It was a youthful dream to become an opera singer, but marriage, kids and everything that goes with it became her reality.

She loved her family and had no regrets, but always wondered about the path not taken.

As she got closer the music became louder and her heart beat a little faster as her eyes and ears widened.

“Maybe this is what they mean when they say unfinished business,” Eve thought. “But I haven’t sung in years, I couldn’t just pick it up. Could I?”

Reaching the room, she shyly stood on the other side of the door listening to the melodious tones of the choral music. She closed her eyes to experience the sound and let the music wash over her. She let out a deep breath and smiled, recognizing one song from church and unconsciously sang along.

“You sing beautifully. Would you like to come in?” a women interrupted her haze and startled her.

Eve nodded as they lady showed her in and offered her a seat.

She sat down and looked around nervously. After a few minutes, she found herself singing. It was like muscle memory; she just did it without thinking. It was natural.

As the rehearsal came to an end, she felt herself smiling.

“I hope you come back. You have a very nice voice,” said the lady sitting next to her.

“Thank you. I will.” Eve happily walked to her car. She was home.

  © Suzanne Rudd Hamilton, 2022

Published by suzanneruddhamilton

I write anything from novels and children's books to plays to relate and retell everyday life experiences in a fun-filled read with heart, hope and humor. A former journalist and real estate marketing expert, I am a transplant from Chicago, now happily living in southwest Florida to keep warm and sunny all year round. You can find me at www.suzanneruddhamilton.com

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