The One That Got Away

A day filled with deep thoughts, sadness,wonder, happiness, and music…It was a good day. She swayed to the music, her paintbrush keeping time, her not so melodious voice singing along. She takes stock of her life.

It was not an easy time on her tender heart. It had not always been so. There was a time when she felt loved and cherished. As a child, she was a watcher…a witness…an observer. But even though she stood apart from the others, everyone sensed a goodness about her. She wore her heart on her sleeve. But no one realized just how vulnerable that little heart was; how much she knew (even the secrets); how susceptible she felt with even the most subtle changes; or how deeply she felt the pain of others. They did not realize the wisdom she carried within her or her intuitive abilities.

Her first memory of heart pain was when her father left. Though she knew it was better this way and there would be no more fighting (or so she thought), it was the beginning of the erosion of her self-esteem.

She was an excellent student (scored a few mere points below genius for her age of 8 years). She sought solace there among the joys of learning…the recognition of her academic abilities. Her father loved to witness her intelligence and he quizzed her often about geology and her other favored subjects. But then it stopped. Perhaps he was afraid she would prove herself smarter than he was.

She grew up in the solitude of her bedroom, her sanctuary. It was here she taught herself to play the guitar at the age of eleven. It was here she penned the most articulate letters to her father who took refuge from his pain out upon the ocean. It was here she created the perfect life for herself…on paper.

Moving to the next wall, she squinted to see where she needed to apply the paint. It always amazed (and amused) her the way the music pushed her to dig deeper. The beauty of setting her MP3 player on shuffle gave the universe a way to help her and to hold her during her musings.

Childhood led to adolescence and she became lonely. How many days and nights were spent in her bedroom dreaming of the day when love came into her life.

Everyone else had boyfriends but her. She witnessed her girlfriends bloom when their boyfriends shined upon them like the sun on a tender blossom. Things were hard enough as they were with mom always gone, the constant fighting with her sister. When her mother got fed up with the fighting and moved her sister to her own room and moved into the bedroom, she felt like she lost the only thing she ever had. Her own space.

Her mother didn’t realize how important it was for there to be a place for her that was protected from the feelings and energies of others. It felt like she had lost all support. She moved a folding table outside near the light of the carport. Looking to the sky she saw the stars twinkling in the vastness of space. She heard the crickets chirping. The cat rubbed against her leg. All was right with her world when she was outside. Here she did her best writing.

High school was, well, high school. Girls could be so cruel, but she seemed to miss most of that until her last year. There were football games to attend, basketball games to watch as she was the scorekeeper. (She was the only female allowed to travel with the team which was both fun and difficult when crammed into a suburban with so much testosterone.) And, of course, there was the learning…of subjects new and challenging…of learning to be in the company of boys she liked who liked her…

Her English teacher would ask the class to write a poem. She would come to class with ten. She liked kissing the boys but didn’t like their octopus arms that seemed to be everywhere on her body at once. Graduation two months after turning seventeen, a job working for a photographer modeling, developing film, and other things. She finally left when she tired of fighting a middle aged man’s advances in the dark room and he exacted revenge by making her develop accident photographs for the California Highway Patrol. That terrible accident where a semi truck filled with gravel smashed into a pickup of some friends sitting both in the cab and in the bed. There lied Mary, decapitated and lifeless.

Finally the independence of college five hours from home. She wasn’t quite ready for liberation and opted many times to skip class in favor of going to the beach to watch the bodybuilders. She transferred trying to be responsible. But she had already given the best of herself to school. Mid year she called the boy was the first man in her life that loved her and cherished her, sating that deep craving. She moved back to her hometown and became his wife.

Up and down.. her hands moving the paintbrush to the can and back…her arms moving to spread new color on an old wall. New musings of an old soul. They had their good times, they had their bad. She found herself pregnant and her heart soared. But his did the opposite. Oh, he loved her more than he would ever love anyone else but he did not want their child and lacked the courage to tell her. She heard it from his best friend. At least he drove her to the appointment to terminate her pregnancy. He shared the lie she told her friends and family that “things just didn’t work out” leading them to believe she had a miscarriage.

It was had to believe she would have had a 32-old child now. She would probably be a grandmother. Her life wouldn’t have been the same. There were no regrets even now.

He was no longer intimate with her as he did not want her to get pregnant again. He feared her intuition, her knowing when he got a speeding ticket or was going to be in an accident and she hid the keys to the Corvette. Divorce, a new career, another of many broken relationships involving other women. Another blow to her self-esteem, another break in her heart.

How lucky she was now to have married a man who loved and cherished her. A wonderful man who endured humility, had courage, and knew her heart so well. He did so much to support her through her stumbling down the path of infertility. He shared her ecstatic joy at a long awaited pregnancy and birth of their daughter. No one could be a better husband.

Still… the music led her to thoughts of the one she lost. He was the most incredibly handsome guy she had ever met. He was so handsome that it was hard to look straight at him. It didn’t take long for her to see that he had a good heart, was honest, and forthright. He lived 30 minutes away and worked different shifts so they wrote one another, sent cards. She wrote him poetry from her heart.

But one day something happened. He was sick. He was asleep next to her. They awoke and he wanted to be alone. He called her a few hours later when he was feeling better. She tried to tell him that she had wanted to stay and take care of him but felt rejected. She bungled it. Their last words were “But I thought we were having a good time.” “I don’t want to be just a good time. I’m tired of being somebody’s good time.”

He didn’t call back. She tried to console herself saying it was better this way. He would just break her heart. She didn’t deserve anyone like him. He was so good looking, so strong, and of such good heart…he would find someone better than her anyway so it was best to just cut things off now.

They saw each other at a wedding She smiled thinking they would have a chance to talk at the reception. He didn’t go. She called and asked it she could go to his house…she couldn’t drive all the way back home. He said “OK.”

All her cards and pictures were gone from the headboard of his bed. She tried to reach for him but he turned his back to her and went to sleep. One of the many cracks in her heart grew into a crevice. While he was in the shower the next morning, she dressed quietly and left.

Only one more door and some trim to finish. Her back was aching yet she pushed herself to finish. The music added to her MP3 player that morning was sweet, tender, spoke of love. She remembered seeing him several years later at his mother’s funeral. He told her he couldn’t believe she was there and hugged her tightly. “How could I not be here? I loved her, too.” She could see him sitting a few rows in front of her with his arm around his wife, their heads bent together in comfort. “I’ll have to get my daughter from school on the way to the reception,” she thought. “And write separate cards for him, his wife, and his daughter.”

He bent down to meet her daughter when they walked into the back yard of his mother’s house. Her precious eight year old said, “I’m so sorry about your mommy.” obviously touching his heart. The little one grew hungry and even though she wanted to stay, she sought him out to say goodbye. “You were so brave to stand before that huge crowd and memorialize your mother. I felt your pain and was trying to give you the energy and strength. You did a fine job despite the difficulty. I know how that feels…I did it for my father.”

He hugged her then pulled her back and gazed into her eyes. It was like their hearts touched and he was trying to convey something to her without words. They stood there for several moments. She had to tear herself away before her heart broke all over again. As she drove towards a fast food restaurant for her daughter, she could hear his mother’s long ago words “I so wanted you to be my daughter-in-law.”

Why is it that whenever gentle music plays her thoughts automatically return to him? They spoke on the phone a few times and had recently exchanged emails.

Why did the music remind her of all the conversations they never had? all the dances they never danced? all the things they never did together? Why was she feeling a sense of loss when she had such an amazing husband and he had a wonderful wife? Why did he come into her dreams where they had deep conversations and tried to figure out what could have been? Did he ever dream about her, share that sense of loss, or think about what if?

She longed to tell him why she gave up 20 something years earlier. She longed to tell him that she didn’t feel worthy; that she didn’t feel like she deserved him. How did she tell him that they weren’t finished yet?

5 responses

  1. This is so powerful, Sally. You are working through some very complicated feelings here.

    1. We were close 24 years ago but have grown in different directions, I’m sure. I’d probably hate him after getting to know him again. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. One thing I didn’t mention is that he and my hubby have the same first and middle names…as did the taker of my virginity…

      I have a reading done every year in San Francisco with this amazing man, Felix. Last year my father spoke to him for over 30 minutes and it was amazing! This year I think I shall take a picture of ‘the one’ and ask Felix what’s up.

      Thanks, Lori!   Sally ~     “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die. ~Edward Kennedy~  

  2. This work touches me very deeply. You many feel vulnerable at times but I admire your capacity to express a range of complex feelings. In truth we have walked similar paths. Finding the words to express my feelings about such situations do not come easily. They tend to stick in my throat and refuse to come out. That is why drawing has become so important. I seem to be able to say more.

  3. what a beautifully written and touching piece. You exhibit such courage and wisdom in your journey through the complexities of life. Keep writing, not only to release the feelings within for yourself, but also to share with others who can appreciate your feelings and your way of expressing them.

    1. Thank you, Tabitha. YOU are just what I needed today!   Sally ~     “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die. ~Edward Kennedy~   warming my fire   traveling with friends random writing and art projects life is funny  

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