So much time to reflect in this covid year. For some reason, totally without cause that she could see, she returned to 1984. Not Orwell. Heaven forbid. No, to the time when she was a senior in college and infatuated with an older man and the first boy she ever loved resurfaced. He’d gone to Lebanon as part of his Maronite studies, leaving her well and truly behind, never contacting her. Yet, his friends all thought of her as his girl, even if, to her, she never felt that she was.
In the year he’d been gone, she moved on, trying to find herself in the world. Changed her major a couple of times. Well, maybe three. English, Spanish, English. But always literature because she knew in her heart, stories and words were hers. Reading Don Quixote in Spanish was her undoing and returned her to English literature and Shakespeare and Thomas Hardy and Prufrock. And Dorothy Parker. Let’s not forget Dorothy Parker.
The last day she saw him was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. “Let’s have coffee on Thursday,” he’d said.
She laughed. She laughed, and she thinks of that sadly now. She laughed and said, “Thursday’s Thanksgiving.”
Had she been too off-handed? Too distant?
Why has she only thought about this now? Some thirty-odd years too late? If she’d said something else, offered to have coffee that afternoon, would he have still been alive a week later? Why has it taken her all of these years to consider that she might have been the catalyst, the one to send him over the edge? Well, certainly, she never thought she had the power. But she’s learned a lot in all of these years and maybe he had never shown her his full hand. That maybe he’d kept his feelings hidden and her seeming nonchalance had hurt far more than she knew. She’d moved on but had he possibly been dreaming of a future with her?
These are guesses and things that had never occurred to her before she stared at her own mortality and her understanding of people grew and she understood that each one of us keeps far too much hidden out of fear of being hurt.
She thinks maybe they missed out. On a happy big family. Crushing love. Growing old together.
What if? What if?
It’s an echo in her heart she’ll never discover. But something in this past year has shown its heart to her and made her sad with recognition.
Secrets always hurt. Never be afraid to tell someone you love them. You never know what might come of it.