The year was either 1953 or ’54, early in my Kansas City, Kansas high school years. Bob was my brother’s friend and they spent hours in the basement workshop. Time moved and my 14-year-old heart fell in love. When I sort photos, seeing him through the years, breathing becomes a challenge.
Circumstances changed. Our lives went in different directions.
In 1958, while in college, I met a good man and we planned a future together. Five amazing children who reflect so many of the dad’s best qualities, a trove of beautiful memories, a life filled with many of those ‘for better and for worse’ moments followed. The sadness of divorce also followed.
Within a short time, circumstances changed again and Bob reentered my life. First love. New love. This time, I wasn’t a teen. I was a package deal…five children, an aging mother and a teaching career. Welcome to this new world.
We lived and loved that new world. Five beautiful grandchildren were born in our new world. Each baby gave Bob the magic of complete, total love and acceptance.
On October 21, Bob left us. He died. He went away. Those memories everyone talks about? Those memories that are to bring ease? Those memories that are to comfort? Not yet. All the memories do is tear at the heart and the gut, wrenching out the huge well of missing him.
A friend told me that I had always loved too deeply, that I needed to see life with more discretion, that I lost the ability to emotionally self protect. Imagine that…protecting oneself from all that love has to offer.
In our church, we say a prayer asking forgiveness “for what I have done and what I have failed to do”. The failure hurts the most, missed opportunities, deliberate decisions to slide by an opportunity, hugs not given, smiles held back, anger over stupid stuff.
Yesterday, my brother said that my Bob was his best friend, his lifetime best friend. My own lifetime is overflowing with gifts, the riches of my children and grandchildren, of family, of friends, of so much more than I deserve. I keep hearing that time will actually ease this emptiness that stands in Bob’s place. Maybe. Tick Tock.