I like kissing. It’s one of the things I am not particularly good at, yet don’t mind displaying my lack of technique with a lover.
Susan was an extremely accomplished kisser. She had an eclectic range of kissing subtleties. I appreciated her awareness and tempo. We employed kissing for many things, like most people. Hello, goodbye, come closer, I love you, you irritate me but I still love you, I missed you, here is some comfort. Come closer, much closer, closer still.
Susan was generous with a particular kiss. She would tippy toe and pepper my neck with pecks of her mouth and it felt like a wren fluttering between my shoulder and my ear. I would try to replicate this technique on her and she would giggle and wipe the slobber off her neck.
She was generous with her other kisses too. And I loved them all. Sometimes the desire to kiss was secondary to other forms of affection and that was fine too.
While Susan was in chemo treatment for her cancer, it would often affect her taste and the desire in her to be kissed or kiss was diminished. In general though we were fortunate that the side effects of her chemo were minimal in all kinds of ways.
Until the end.
The effective chemo had run its course and she was convinced to try another, more aggressive one. In hindsight, she said it was a dumb idea. We discovered it is easy to get caught up in a moment and lose sight of the big picture and so it was like that for Susan. The aggressive chemo burned her throat, her mouth, her lips. She couldn’t speak or eat. Swallowing ice water was difficult. Her lips and mouth blistered. It was dreadful. We 86’d that fucking chemo. But even after quitting the treatment the poison was still running its course and it was almost two weeks before her lips healed. She died about four or five days after. Our kissing consisted of my lips lightly brushing her forehead or cheeks. When we said goodbye she would bow and I would kiss her head.
Today is July 20th, the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing. And while not to the exact day, it is one full year since Susan and I last kissed each other on the mouth. I have not been kissed like that since. It is one of the many things I truly miss. Montreal is a good place for kissing because a two-cheek kiss is as common as a handshake when meeting someone, even for the first time. But a peck on the cheek is to kissing what walking on a beach is to walking on the moon.
Susan and I discussed a little my kissing days after she would die (she offered to help write my dating site profile!). She was gracious and reminded me not to deprive myself of love or affection. She noted that being loyal to our love and forsaking all others was, in her word, silly.
For a long time kissing seemed as far away as the moon. It has been interesting to see how my own desire has rounded a swooping orbital curve. For all of these months, almost a year in fact, I feel as though I have been passing in orbit around the dark side of the moon. And as I emerge I am now coming into contact, not with sight of the earth, but with a readiness for comfort, affection, and desire.
And kisses on the mouth.