He found me. After so many years he showed up at my front door and invited me for coffee. I was happy to see him. It is always nice to see someone who have been part of your life, even if it was from the distance. He opened the car door and for a moment I stood there unsure of what I was supposed to do. Can you believe it? I was not used to have someone do nice things like that for me. I finally went in and he closed the door. I wonder if he ever noticed my uncertainty.
The Starbucks place was close to the hospital. We went for coffee and reconnected right away. I told him about my life, and he told me about his. It was interesting that we had never engaged in a long conversation until that day. How long has it been since we saw each other? Hmm… I think the last time was in 1979 when we graduated from High School. Love and tragic stories start or include High School, isn’t it? The time went fast and suddenly it was time to go to work. He offered to drop me off at the hospital. It was a nice feeling being cared for by someone else, even it was just to be driven to work.
We made plans to see each other again. That weekend I drove to where he was and offered to help him paint his house before it could be put back on the market. When we finished he invited me for dinner and I went back home. I thought about that day. He seemed happy to show me where he had spent part of his life. I was happy to hear about his lifework and his passion in life.
Two years later after our first encounter I moved to Georgia. It was so nice to finally afford my own place and everything I needed or wanted. New place. New job. New plans. New friends. One day, he found me again. “Passing through Georgia”, he said, as he entered my space. I cooked dinner for a nice friend. I could see how much he enjoyed eating my food. After dinner, we relaxed. We sat back in my living room and began talking of the old days. He then told me of a surprise he had: he was going to be a father! “That is great news!”, I said, “but you never told me that you were married”. “I know…”, he said looking a little embarrassed. But it was ok, because he was a good old friend and I never thought anything of it.
We stayed in contact, and he would tell me all about his son every time I asked him. I enjoyed everything he shared about watching his son grow. He would send me videos of his son laughing, walking, running, and I laughed with him. It was almost as if I had to be part of those moments so important to him. Then I found out why.
One day, he told me that ever since Jr. High all the way to High School he watched me in silence. He remembered how I would fix my hair, and sometimes he remembered specific days and what I was wearing to school. “I’m still in love with you…”, he said. I’m sure he saw the surprise on my face. I was surprised, honored, and afraid all at the same time. I tried to stay away, but he would raise from behind my thoughts as a way to show me how much I liked the idea of having him in my life. He would call. I would answer. Our friendship continued but all of the sudden I would stop communicating, afraid of acknowledging how much I missed talking to him. Four years passed only to be found by him again.
In one of our conversations he told me how his marriage has not been working out for some time. I had known for a while through a mutual HS friend. Like me, he decided to stay in his marriage for the sake of his son. Although I have to say that personally, I don’t think that was a good decision I made. Something struck my heart when he said: “I do not need a Judge to tell me about my responsibilities. I know them very well.” His words showed me what a good man and father he was but I didn’t want to be blamed for something that had not been working out. And that’s why I disappeared again.
Couple months ago he reached out again to see how I was. It was around the same time I had been told of my breast cancer diagnosis. Go figure. Telling him about my diagnosis felt very natural almost as if I had to be honest with him. As if I owed him. My surgery was coming up soon. And then, after hours of driving, he once again showed up at my front door. What a beautiful surprise! He traveled many miles only to spend few hours with me. He invited me for dinner and once again we talked about where we were this time in life. It was a nice feeling. He opened the car door again and the memory of that first time passed through my mind and heart like lightning. There was something different about that day. Or was it me? Maybe this cancer thing had changed the way I see life. Somehow, he had found his way up to my heart. Once inside the car I leaned over and kissed him. We found each other at the entrance door of our hearts and stopped. He drove me home and went back to his life. I don’t know when or if I will see him again. But that night, as I was falling asleep, I realized that love had struck my heart forty years too late.