I hold it true, whatever befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all. AGPareja; February 2009
As soon as he sat down on the bench he began to drift back to that
Valentine’s Day eighteen years before. It had been at this very same
bench. He had been coming here every Valentine’s Day. He would sit for an hour or so and remember her and how he had loved her. He had planned to ask her to marry him on that day eighteen years before. His mind drifted back and in his mind’s eye he could see her and his heart could feel what he had felt on that day.
He had only known her for nine months. When he was twenty-five years old that seemed to be a longer period of time that it now did. He thought about how they had met. People that he worked with were going out for Friday night drinks and they had asked him to come. This was something that they only did a few times a year and he had never gone with them before. When this was pointed out to him he said that he would join them.
It was a large bar and a band was playing classic rock and dance music. He sat at the bar nursing a beer while listening to the music. That was when he first noticed her. She was sitting at a table with another woman. He glanced at her from the corner of his eye and in that strange communication that is without words he knew that she knew that he was looking at her. There was about ten minutes of this thing of her noticing him noticing her while he was doing the same. It was interrupted when the band took a break and his co-workers began to chit-chat. As soon as the music started up again he gazed directly at her and in an instant that was unlike him he stepped off of his stool and walked directly towards her table. She watched him as he walked towards her and their eyes met before words were spoken.
“Would you like to dance?”, he asked. Her eyes looked away from his as she said, “I can’t”. It wasn’t the answer that he had hoped for. He muttered “Okay” and started to turn to walk away. Her hand reached out towards his, “No wait, sit down.” He smiled and as soon as he sat down he said, “I can’t dance either.” They sat and talked in staccato conversation at points where the music got lower. One of his co-workers joined him at the table and a few minutes later the co-worker and her friend were up and dancing.
” Are you sure you don’t want to dance?” She shook her head to say no but her eyes said that she was not definite so he asked, “Are you sure, there is no harm in trying?” She grinned and said, “I really can’t but I’ll try.” As soon as she stood up he noticed the cane hanging on the back of her chair. She walked towards the dance floor without it, dragging her right leg while limping. He followed her slowly and they started to dance. The ‘dancing’ lasted about two minutes before she fell down, landing on her left knee. He helped her back to the table. When she sat down she giggled and said, “I guess that you were wrong about it not hurting to try.”
He sat on the bench and re-played the scene in his mind. Then he fast forwarded to that Valentine’s Day eighteen years before, right here at this very same bench. She was from Ohio and had moved to Connecticut two years before they had met. It was a whirlwind relationship and they had both rushed off into the high that comes when two souls touch. He had rehearsed it in his head. They would take a walk in the park and then sit at a bench and he would ask her to marry him. But something had happened that was not part of the rehearsal that he had played in his head. As soon as they sat down she said that she had something to tell him. He listened. Her grandmother was sick. She was going back to Ohio for a few weeks. She would call him and it would not be long before she would see him. He decided to hold off on his question. He would ask her when she got back. They would return to this bench. As soon as he thought this a wave of worry washed over him. It seemingly came out of nowhere. What if he were to never see her again? Instead of the rehearsal that he had played out in his mind he blurted out, “I’m afraid that I won’t see you again.” She smiled a smile that reassured him, “Don’t be afraid I’ll see you soon.” As they stood up he clasped her hand and whispered in her ear,”I love you.” She looked down at her right leg , All of me?” He kissed her gently and whispered softly, ” Every part of you, forever, I promise.”
She would be staying with her cousin, not far from the nursing home where her grandmother was. Two days after she left he called he called the number that she had given him. Her cousin answered and took a message. She phoned him back the following day and they talked for fifteen minutes or so. He only spoke with her once after that. She didn’t return his phone calls until the late night call that he receive