It was a dark and summer night . . .

 TMI. Too much information is what a dear soul of mine said in response to reading the words that cast a ray of light into the cracks of my life. I wondered if the response came from their vantage point of threads in my tapestry, or if there was just no way they could ever open up their own humanity in such a way. Though I greatly valued their binocular view and support, I knew my calling was different than theirs. 

Though I have morphed since childhood to a person mostly of order and neatness, I can with relative ease, be at home in well-lived and slightly askew too. Maybe that bi-polar mixture came and stayed as a direct result of living a duality of life for the vast majority of my existence in this human shell. It is the substrate of enduring grief - living methodically and even very disciplined outwardly but inwardly held precariously together with old bread twist-ies and frayed shoe strings. That was a most accurate word-picture to describe me.

Before you get the wrong impression of my survival and grit, or that I somehow maneuvered through the years of hardship when others waned or even careened off at a fraction of the stuff, it was nothing I did. There are only two things that saved me from ultimate self-annihilation and complete inward self destruction - God, and a personality I had no control in having.  I am gritty, tenacious, unrelenting. It's a great blessing in certain life-saving and accomplishing sorts of ways, but a damned curse in others.  It made me persevere, live with grand loss while continuing to not live the life I longed for and knew I was meant to live. It also made me unable to let loose of it as well.

I went off to college. It was yet again one of the many things I did going through the motions of living life. College was the next thing in a life of things I would do without him. The desire to experience that fundamental western world phase was lost on me. One of the only things that fueled or assaged me was nature - all things nature. Biking, wandering the woods, running, exploring the quiet outdoors alone was my zen. It was there, and still is, the place I can more readily find center, see and feel God without boundaries - both mine and the worlds.

He married another the summer before I was readying to leave for college. Late one hot summer night I went out for a run in the moonlight. It was somebody in my family's birthday celebration that evening. After the crowd cleared, with the summer night sounds playing their music, I headed down our country road soaking up the symphony and the moonlit road.  My mind paced its normal loop of thoughts as my legs quietly cut through the heat and darkness. In front of me, headed toward me I saw something. As my mind was frantically trying to figure out what was it was, a voice called out, "Nancy!"

It was a voice I knew without hesitation. With it came a flood of held in thoughts and love. His bike came to halt in front of me on that country road in the darkness of a summer night. Words came out like no time had passed between us. I wondered why he was biking in the darkness by my parents house - though I didn't ask, I knew. Leaving him that night on the same road he had left me on several years before was once again crushing.

It opened my never ending scab. A few weeks later, on another bike ride, we collided again. This time I could palpably feel his desire to grab and hug me and not let go. He was fighting it. I wondered what in his marriage was not so great that he tried to put himself near where he thought he might get to see me. Part of me felt bad for him. The shit decision he had made was now coming to light. Part of me felt angry. Angry of the time it had taken him to realize he had always loved me and to act on it. I didn't want to be his second choice, not then and not now, 

Summer faded to fall and I went off to college. One day someone yelled down the dorm hall, "Nancy, there's call for you!" There were no cell phones in 1984. A landline phone hung on the wall of the dorm hallway. As I walked to the phone I had no idea that HE was on the phone. 

I said "Hello". Then I heard a familiar voice that blew open my heart once again., "Nancy?" He asked if he could see me. My thoughts felt both buoyed and endless, "Of course!" I said. We settled on where and when to meet. In the days leading up to that meeting I thought about what I knew he probably wanted and whether I would give myself to the person I had loved for all these years.

SInce my brain works best with written words, I penned a novel to him. I planned to get to the designated place first and ask the cashier to give my letter to him. My soul didn't know if I saw him if I could let him go and walk away. He was early and I still held the letter in my hand. I wanted to touch him, to let it all loose. To unleash my deep love for him., I wanted to be with him.

. . . He told me his wife was pregnant with their first child and he realized he had made a mistake in marrying her. It was all the things I had known, wanted to hear and felt broken over. I handed him the letter. WIth all the resolve I had in me, I told him he could not leave his wife and unborn child. That again I would be second. That starting a life from hurt would not be good.

As we parted, I knew that would probably be the last time I saw his face. I told him that no matter where I went, or who I went with, it was him I would always love. I asked him to know that with each event that life would bring I was there in his heart. I told him I needed to try to be present in living life, but that my love for him would never leave. I had started dating a few weeks earlier, and maybe this could end up being something. I didn't have much of a choice other than try to make a life without him.

As we said goodbye, I once again stood and watched him slowly walk to his car. There was something about his walk, the slow gait, his shoulders down that I knew this time I had broke his heart. I had hoped that in breaking it he would be present for his wife and child. They deserved that. I watched for the second time in my life as he drove away from me. 

It was probably my deep love for him that didn't want him to experience the trauma of leaving his wife and child. It was gut wrenching to once again not be with him. I just could not be his it seemed. It is also why the movie "Yentl" is my favorite movie. And, why the mini-series "The Thornbirds" rips my insides out.

Love is a moniker and a thing. He was both to me.

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