I went to a funeral today. One of two I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life for. Always somewhere in my mind were my mom’s and his mom’s. Today was his.
They’ve been around so long that I don’t remember my life without them in it. We were the only ones in our private school class that didn’t have dads. Both our moms were older (his was actually six years older than mine).
Forever I thought we would be the only other one who might understand what it it would be like when this day came. As he said today, “Where there was one, there was the other.” And if they were there, so were we. Whether we were liking each other at the time or not.
Her son was my first love. Starting about fourth grade, I always adored him. Except for that horrible high school phase. In college we became friends again. We hung out, became each other’s date when our friends started getting married and messed around a little on the side.
Our mothers were never very subtle about how they felt about the notion of “us.” He and I always used to joke that they were just counting the days till our wedding. Even today a very close family member told mom, “Oh, she loved your daughter. She prayed that some day she would be her daughter.”
We reminded me of David and Maddie from Moonlighting. I swear, in that episode where David went to finally declare his love and Mark Harmon opened her door, I was crushed. I don’t think I ever forgave the show for that.
OK, back over here in reality world. Thing is, we were never serious about it. I think a part of each of us just assumed we’d come back around to each other when the time was right.
And then one day he broke my heart. There’d been a girl. She’d been special. The first one I ever felt threatened by. He told me that while she was out of town one weekend, he cheated on her. And I knew then. He would never be faithful. If not to her. Not to me. And that was unacceptable.
I cut him off and he never knew why.
Oh, because of the mother’s, we were always there in the peripheral of each other’s lives. But it was never the same for me. I was so angry at him for so long.
We went to his wedding. It was one of those moments in life when I felt like everyone was watching me. I guess there was a whole church who watched us grow up together who were baffled by this turn of events.
His friend Susan was his best man. I remember thinking at the time that was really about me. When I spoke with him for a moment alone during the reception, I told him, “I’m mad at you, ” and he cut me off. “Why because I chose the wrong Susan?” I laughed it off and said, “No, because now I can’t get away with ‘Well, John’s not married.’ ” We left after that because I knew then there was much more about me in that wedding than I wanted to watch.
His mom developed Alzheimer’s and he moved her to a facility in Kerrville and none of us ever saw much of each other anymore.
Last Monday, mom and I went out to breakfast and our conversation came around to them. Wondering how she was. How he was. We discussed if we’d know when the time came. I told her I knew he would find us.
There was a message from him on Mom’s answering machine Wednesday night.
I taught at work Thursday morning and didn’t look for the obit till after. When I saw her picture, it hit me hard. It sat like a rock on me for the rest of the day.
This morning I cried from my house, to mom’s house to the cemetery. I kept telling myself that it was OK. That at one time in my life everyone knew her as my second mom.
I told mom I didn’t want to be that way in front of him. But she reminded me that he knew I’d loved her too. Thankfully, from somewhere within (or maybe it was that quarter Xanax I took), I pulled myself together and when I saw him, we just walked together and hugged. A long time.
Lots of things can be said in a hug, without ever saying a word.
The service was short but lovely. We chatted with folks we’d not seen in years. I cried as we left and told my mom something I never said before. “A piece of my heart will always love John.” She said, “I know. And a piece of his will always love yours.”
We went with the extended family to eat lunch. We sat far apart but sometimes he busted me just staring at him. Thinking about what he must be feeling. How alone in the crowd he looked.
As we left, I gave him my card with my info. We hugged and I told him, “I miss you.” He hugged me a little bit snugger and said, “I miss you too.”