When the thing has a name: E.M. Sloan’s tale of Lost Love


Who among us has not lost love to another?  Author Elizabeth Sloan writes in this poignant entry of losing love not to another woman, but to the ravages of time, to memory gone awry. Are we not each a tributary in search of a river in which our lives converge with another kindred spirit, sharing eddies and waterfalls and broad lazy days of floating towards a shared destiny? But while some rivers carry us together, others just carry us away. Here is the

River of Life

by E.M. Sloan

It’s usually a simple trigger. Waiting at the bank when the Friday coffee cart is rolled out. That feeling of nostalgia, knowing how much Alex would enjoy wandering over to snag a couple cookies and cup of coffee.


We were romantic, once upon a time. He was my anchor following the end of an unhealthy marriage. Alex was never judgmental, always unconditional; a steadfast guarantee. He introduced my daughter and me to canoeing and rafting on wild Idaho rivers. I literally trusted our lives to him. He devoted his life to us.

But paths diverged. I moved and went to grad school. Alex continued winter travel to Central America, delivering medical supplies and building homes. Summers he returned to his river cabin, and we remained dear friends. For years, he waited patiently for my passion to return.


A few summers ago I decided to see if becoming a couple again was an option. We drove to the Midwest to visit our families. At a ma-and-pa motel, we played with the idea of having a physical relationship again. But Alex kneeled above me (both of us still pajama clad) and exclaimed, “This is like being at the top of a soap box derby!”

“Uh, that’s not going to work for me. Let’s go have breakfast.”

Over our shared omelet, Alex held my hand. “I’m sorry, sweetie. I just don’t seem to know how to do these things anymore.”

My mind flashed to him not able to put gas in the car, or even choose his own food from a menu.

“You’ve been living in Mexico so long, you just forget how to function back in the U.S.”

In Missouri we stayed with his brother. When Alex was in the shower, his brother and wife asked how he was doing.

“Oh, you know how hard-headed he can be!” I smiled.

They admitted that over the past couple years, they noticed him “not getting things.”

Damn. Now the subtle forgetfulness, disconnection, and feeling lost made sense. Our steadfast denial of his family “legacy” had to be addressed.


For three summers, I helped Alex maneuver along his jumbled journey. One day I said, “Hey, I need a good boatman to help me drape this tarp to keep the rain waters away.” We were transforming an abandoned jungle gym into an outdoor sleep space.

He earnestly set about zig-zagging the line of rope until the space was so enclosed it looked like a giant djembe drum. I asked what was the point of sleeping outside if only to be enveloped in a blue plastic wrap? He said I really needed to put the air mattress in the dog kennel so I could lock the gate and be safe inside.

Last summer we realized that travel is too upsetting. He won’t be able to return to the cabin, affectionately named Rio Vida. My hope is that the sanctuary of the waters will provide safe harbor until the river takes him home.



12 thoughts on “When the thing has a name: E.M. Sloan’s tale of Lost Love

  1. Thornton Sully says:

    Because of the limits to # of characters permissible in our formatting matrix, this is a two parter: I invite all who enter the contest to let us know about your writing projects or other artistic endeavors, and I will post links to your website. Elizabeth has recently published “When Songbirds Returned to Paris,” which I had the pleasure of reviewing before it went to press. Do you like mysteries? It’s available on Amazon. In the next comment box, you’ll see the synopsis.

  2. Thornton Sully says:

    When Germany invades France in 1940, Cecily Lefort can’t imagine how the aristocratic comforts of life as a French doctor’s wife are about to disappear. A return to native England eventually leads Cecily back to France, this time as a secret agent. Cecily is one of 13 female Special Operations Executive (SOE) spies who do not survive to tell their story. But a 100-year old family-owned photograph of Cecily inspires author Elizabeth Sloan to travel to Paris and investigate the story of Cecily’s life–and death. The intuitive conversation between Elizabeth and Cecily–based on war documents, letters, and interviews–spins an international web of intrigue that captures the raw emotions of love and war.

  3. Elizabeth Sloan says:

    I am warmed and touched by all your sincere comments. Heart-felt. And Thorn, thank you for the great “plugs.” I love that clever Ol Man River segue into our turmoiled political scene, too. Well done, you!

  4. Tiffany Vakilian says:

    So great with a story multi layered with past, present,and future. Beautiful and sad. But mostly beautiful.

    And I have to applaud the framework of the story. It had chapters, with a brevity that painted such a larger picture than the few works within each.

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