Today’s post is part of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop. This week’s prompts were:
1.) The ladies at MomSmack listed their top 10 faves of 2012 here. Use their list as a template and fill in your own answers! (inspired by MomSmack)
2.) Have your kids ever embarrassed you? Share something they’ve said or done that caused a *facepalm*.
3.) Tell us about something that is haunting you.
4.) Have you ever gotten detention at school? What did you do?
5.) Find a photo of yourself taken 10 years ago and display it on your blog along with a current photo. How have you changed since the day that photo was taken?
I chose #3 – Tell us about something that is haunting you.
My dad called me a few days ago and told me that he ran into an old flame of mine – my first love. My heart did its typical flutter like it does any time I hear his name, and then my dad dropped the bomb – he’s suffering from cancer and isn’t doing very well. And then my heart broke.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my husband and I don’t regret a minute of our life together. But there is something about that first love. The first real love. Not the first boyfriend, which is rarely serious – mine was a kid I knew forever all through elementary school & we held hands in class during film strips. Not the first kiss – he was short-lived and slobbery. Not the first date – I’m not even sure I remember who that was. Not the first “puppy love” – he was special, but still a “puppy.” Not the first intimate relationship – it was more about proving I was an adult and “just getting it over with” than any sort of (real) love. No – I’m talking about the first real, true love. The first relationship that felt like an adult relationship – one where we were equals, partners. The first one where forever wasn’t so insane a notion. That is a love that stays with us, no matter how long ago it ended.
And it did end long ago, for sure – about 26 years ago, to be specific. In the interest of full disclosure – I am the one that ended it. I was away at school and he was home – it was hard. I wanted to live and grow and experience and I felt like I couldn’t while in a serious long distance relationship. Maybe I was selfish, but I knew it was the right thing at the time. It wasn’t about other guys or dating – it was just the feeling of spreading my wings for the first time and feeing like I couldn’t fly if I was tethered to someone on the ground. I realized later that instead of weighing me down, he never did anything but lift me up.
It wasn’t that I regretted my decision – I knew that I was making the right choice for me at the time. But I always felt like the timing was off – that it wasn’t the relationship itself that was the problem, but the period in our lives when the relationship was happening. I always felt like we had the right thing and that if it would have been at the right time, it would have been perfect. He was, and always will be, the biggest “might-have-been” in my life.
I know this sounds like longing, but it’s not (except maybe a longing for my youth – for those days, that life). Like I said – I love my life as it is. But the first real love stays with your forever in one way or another. For some it’s a painful memory – full of heartache. For the lucky ones (and I count myself among them), it’s a beautiful memory – full of happiness. But a beautiful memory can be bittersweet. The important thing to remember (whether it’s you or a spouse/partner) is that bittersweet doesn’t actually mean sad, or imply longing, or disappointment in your current life. It just means that someone touched your heart and their fingerprint will remain there forever, reminding you of a happy time, a happy life. It means you’re lucky enough to have something to look back on and smile, even if it stings just a little.
And so what now? Well, the answer to that can only be “nothing.” Not nothing, exactly, but pretty close. We humans tend to want to fix things. When something bad goes on, we want to do something. Doing something makes us feel better. But sometimes your feeling better isn’t the best for anyone else. I want to call him and tell him I am thinking of him. Or bring meals to their house to help his family. Or tell his children stories about him as a young man. I want to comfort him. But it’s not my place anymore. It’s not my life anymore. All I can do is hope & pray that he gets well. And sit here, haunted by our past, and his future, and my own mortality.