It’s been 25 years since I closed that door. A choice I made alone. I walked away from a love so pure. I didn’t want to hide in the shadows anymore. You married that girl. The one you started dating after you broke my heart. You married her, even after her friend nearly killed you in that accident.
I’ll never forget that day. Your aunt burst into the Sunday school classroom and said she needed to speak to me. Confused, I looked at the teacher and he nodded in approval. We stepped out into the hallway and she looked at me, a deep sadness worn upon her face like a mask of mourning. She spoke just above a whisper, “He’s been in a terrible car accident. Without a seatbelt, he was ejected from the car. They have him in intensive care. They’re not sure when or if he’ll come out of the coma. I thought you would want to know.”
I had no words. My eyes welled up with tears. Blurred in confusion, I wondered how she knew I would want to know. We had only dated those few months before your friends had made you choose between them and me. I can’t blame you for making the choice you did. They were just looking out for you, as good friends should. But we showed them by continuing on in secret, yet somehow your aunt knew, or in the very least sensed our love was still going strong.
I remember when she offered to take me to see you after you awoke from that deep sleep. I imagined I was the last person you expected to see when you entered the visiting room of the hospital. After all, she was your girlfriend now and I was supposed to be a secret. Your eyes lit up with pure joy when you saw me sitting at the table with your family.
Your bright white smile, so genuine and warm, I’m certain I blushed from the way you looked at me with those loving eyes. And speaking of warm, I could feel the heat of rage from her eyes, staring me down, unsure of who I was but certain I was more than just an old friend. Our natural chemistry created an energy that could be felt throughout the room.
Some memories of those long-ago days are not so clear but what I do know is I grew tired of playing second string to her, so after my high school graduation, I left our small town and vanished without saying goodbye.
Every day I think of you, remembering what we had. I wish I could be yours again. Can’t we try? Could it be? Underneath the stars, I realize what I’m missing. Time has not healed. I pray for you each night. Somehow it has to be. Someday it will. Make of it what you want, instead of trying to forget. Trust what you feel. Hold what is real.
You married that girl and started a family because that’s what you were supposed to do right? You had two beautiful daughters together but after a while, an emptiness lingered and your restless mind could only think of me and the love we’d had for one another.
A feeling that a part of you was missing. You’re a great father to your girls but life didn’t feel complete. She probably began to notice your mind wandered elsewhere, never knowing what occupied your thoughts. Perhaps she even accused you of being unfaithful so she began to seek the attention of another man and your already unstable world crumbled.
Her emotional affair, like many, began online, a dangerous place to play and keep secrets. Choosing to use her computer at work would be her undoing. Not only did this keyboard courtship result in her being fired, but you, your best friend and IT manager who had tried to warn her, and even your mother were let go because of her misdeeds on company time. Thankfully, an amicable divorce freed you from this devastating train wreck.
It had been nearly ten years by now since I had disappeared but never a day went by where I didn’t cross your mind. You wondered if I was happy wherever it was I had landed. You may have even secretly hoped I was miserable without you in my life. And you would have been right. I’ve never found anyone who’s kiss warmed my body the way yours did. Or hands so gentle as they explored and caressed every curve of my young, supple body. If you had only known how much I missed you too.
Depression had taken full control of your life leaving you feeling despondent and alone with the tormenting thoughts of your biggest mistake. Eventually, though, you found someone who loved you, even if you weren’t really yourself anymore. You married her in the hopes of filling that emptiness that continued to darken your spirit. Broken and betrayed by your first wife, you’d begun to bury the emptiness you felt with drinking and food. You covered up your pain and struggled to find that joy we had so easily shared. So much time slipped away and I had disappeared from your life. Pretending to be happy is exhausting. I should know, I’ve been doing it for decades. Drowning your sorrows in alcohol only dulled the senses for brief moments in time.
You had become someone you didn’t even recognize in the mirror. You wondered where you had gone wrong in life. Why there was no joy even when life had seemed so normal. Years of trying to be something you’re not will eat away at your mind and spirit. Marriage number two never had a fighting chance. The foundation had never been properly laid and it became clear to you both, building a future together would never be. The divorce happened quickly with the sweep of a signature and you went back to the home you knew well.
It would be several more years of soul searching and struggle before you finally stopped denying what your romantic spirit craved. Then one day, you listened to your heart and it reminded you what your mind had never stopped thinking about. Or rather who, and like magic, I appeared on your computer screen and everything became so clear. You still loved me and you would never be able to rest until you knew whether or not I still loved you.
Could it be true? I found you again, and by chance in a random encounter? Random gift from the universe right when I needed it most. I found we never said goodbye. Everything just went away, except love. My love for you never ended. Yours was never taken or suspended. Never will I leave you again. Never will I forget the little things, even your beautifully spelled last name. Victory is truly mine. All my heart is so overcome. Now that I will be able to kiss your lips, hold you in my arms and know I found my one true love once again. One that was always meant to be mine. So I can always love and cherish you, Carrie. Every day for the rest of all time.
Twenty-five years have come and gone and it took every ounce of courage to reach out and take a chance. My heart skipped a beat the day you sent that friend request. I admit I’d given up long ago on being in your life. It still pained me to think about how things had just stopped, how I gave up on us and walked away from the only person I ever loved.
I was the one who had closed the door, but when you knocked, I didn’t even hesitate to answer. When I saw your smile, after all these years, memories of young love washed over me. You were my first love and my first broken heart. Yet, it’s as if time and distance were no match for the love we feel in our hearts and souls.
The flowers you sent me yesterday have bloomed in the most vivid purple and orange. The petals opened like butterfly wings and brought a smile to my face. We’d discussed how a caterpillar dissolves into goo while in its cocoon before emerging anew as a butterfly. You told me it perfectly described the metamorphosis you’d recently begun.
Your depression had taken full control of the reins during marriage number two. The drinking and overeating had taken their toll on your body and health. You’ve accepted responsibility for where your life has gone and now you’re in your cocoon, a 30-day program with the tools and support you need to rebuild and emerge as the man you were born to be.
You sounded embarrassed when I asked questions about those dark times in your life, embarrassed by the wedding pictures from marriage number two that I can see on your page. I noticed in the majority of the photos you wear a gleeful smile, but there is one where I can see the pain in your eyes. The doubt you felt, adorned on your face like a mask, knowing this wasn’t the woman your heart and soul longed for.
I am the sunlight that warms you from the inside. I am the starlight that comforts you at night. Today, I cried when you confessed never a day passed without thinking of me and how much you still loved me. I cried, a mix of sadness for the pain I caused and tears of joy knowing my true love, my first love, is mine to cherish forever. That day you admitted to yourself that thoughts of our young, interrupted love never left your mind, you sent out positive energy and the universe listened to your heart. A spark reignited a passion and you took control of the reins and professed your deepest desires.
I’ve taken in every syllable, every word, and I’ve wept as I listened to you tell me all that has been and all that will be. We’ve relished in telling each other the memories we have from days long gone. We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. But most importantly, we have found our love has remained steady and strong.
My heart flutters like a hummingbird every time I see your number on my phone. I smile, cheeks blushed a bright rouge at the sound of your voice on the line. I cherish every second of each phone call when we get to reflect on the positive memories. Memories like the one of the high school dance where our seductive tango had the crowd cheering us on. The passion of young lovers caught in the flames of desire. A time when we both felt alive.
All those years ago, I wrote a poem, the words of a young woman suffering from a broken heart. When I shared it with you, a tear streamed down your cheek and you knew, this time would be different. You’d finally found the missing piece to the puzzle. And my prayer from long ago has finally been answered.
I look forward to the day we can tell the whole world that love is real. When we can share our story, our passion, our happily ever after. Your epiphany has unlocked the door to our destiny and sealed our fate with love, forever and always.