According to the movie legend, Houdini’s dying words were, “If there is a way back, I will find it.” Houdini was a cheap showman, but not much of a magician.

Magic is easy. Relationships are hard. Little things come between lovers. Little things that rot just below the surface until they swell, consuming the fires of love. I was determined for that not to happen between us. As weeks wore into months and months into years, my wife settled into her lone, but not lonesome, existence in the condo. Though she preferred the intellectual existence of books and music over people and idle chatter, she did possess the ability to make pleasant conversation with anyone she met. She was the epitome of social grace in every situation.

As we met a wider and wider circle of people in our new home and explored the natural wonders of the woodland and water, we found kindred spirits and joined organizations where volunteer service carried its own reward. We pulled weeds in parks, we dug through libraries on research projects, we counted deer and bumblebees, we gathered and identified small critters from babbling brooks. Life was good.

Then this thing came between us. She slowly withdrew from activities we had enjoyed together. I remained attached but out of sight. She showed little inclination to reestablish the connection from her side. I could tell she missed me sometimes, and that was enough in the beginning. After her initial shock wore off. After her initial terror wore off. But it was a long time before she walked the road again. And when she did walk it, she never looked at the rock. She never walked near the rock.

Months later, she did venture out on the boat again. Alone to unsnap the cover, clean spider poop from upholstery, replace the cover; lonely chores outweighed solitary pleasure, so her outings became infrequent. I could have waited an eternity between visits if I had been willing to do so. I was not.

Consumed by loneliness and passion, afraid of permanent loss, I acted selfishly. Believing I had only one path to eternal happiness, I chose to reach out, attempting a level of contact I could not be sure was possible. I had to try before the distance between us grew too great to overcome.

I watched lovingly as she completed the final cleaning on the boat and taped the “For Sale” sign to the bow rail. She opened the dock locker, returning rags and spray bottles. When she turned from the locker door, I reached out to touch her. I reached out and placed a cold, wet hand on her ankle, pulling her into my world.

In the end, I was no better a magician than that cheap showman. If I could not go back to her, then she could come to me.