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Sad Stories That Make You Cry
Promise Part 1

More On Promise Part 1 | Part 2


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.

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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.”

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He sat on the bench and re-played the scene in his mind. The 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 received after not hearing from her for almost two weeks. She said that she was sorry for not calling, she had been busy. They chit-chatted and she said that she would talk to him soon. He sensed that something was different during this conversation and he had been right. Three days later he phoned her and her cousin said that she had moved. He never heard from her again.

In the weeks that followed he wondered a lot. Wondered what had happened. Wondered how he had let it happen. Wondered why he had been so foolish. Wondered how she could mean so much to him that he could not see that he mattered little to her. Wondered if things might have been different if he had followed the script that he had rehearsed in his head for that Valentine’s Day. Wondered what her answer would have been. Wondered if she realized how much she meant to him. Wondered why she did not just tell him that it was over. Wondered why she had whispered “I love you” when the times they had engaged in a lover’s embrace. The worst part about this wondering was that there wasn’t anyone to share it with. He wished that he could unfold it all, the whole story, all of the wondering to another person. Then he could ask, What do you think happened?” But there wasn’t anyone else because he felt to foolish to talk about it with anyone. Two months after the last time that he had spoken with her he phoned her cousin asking how he could reach her. Her cousin’s reply was, “She’s unreachable.” He started to sob right there on the
phone. “If you see her please tell her that I still love her and can she please call me?” He gave her cousin his phone number even though he knew that he had given it to her the last time that he had called.

It took a few months but eventually the wondering receded. It didn’t fully go away but he wondered less often. He accepted that there were things that he would not know, that there was no answer to all of the wondering and that anything would just be conjecture. He moved on. That is what survivors of soul wounds do. Some move forward, some become hardened, some hurt
others, and some wall themselves off from others. He was determined to move forward but he did not forget her and knew that he never would. In this way she would always be a part of him in some small way. When souls touch they leave graffiti.

One year after the last time that he had seen her he returned to the bench and thought about her and the last day that he had seen her. He sat on the bench on a day that was not unlike that Valentine’s Day the year before. It was still winter but there was a hint of spring in the air and the promise of what would grow and blossom. He felt at the cross and chain hanging around his neck. The word “Love” was engraved on the cross. She had given it to him. He contemplated taking it off and throwing it as far as he could in an act to symbolize closure. He didn’t do it because he knew that it would only be symbolic and that real closure would only come from speaking with her. He imagined what he might say if she could hear him. He reflected on this and reached down into all that he knew of his knowing her. In his mind’s eye he spoke. The words came to him in an instant, utterances from his soul:

There is a place I enter in.
What never was, what might have been.
Where are you now, what do you seek?
Afraid to talk?, me I still speak.
I say the things I never said,
In conversations inside my head.
If you could hear, you’d understand,
What never was, was also planned.

He returned to the bench ever Valentine’s Day and remembered his love for her. Something significant happened before his third Valentine’s Day alone at the bench. Two weeks before Valentine’s Day he received a Sunday morning 10 a.m. phone call from her cousin. There had been complications during childbirth and she had died the night before. “You said that you loved her. I thought that you should know.” If asked if she had been married and was told that she was not. There would be a brief memorial service and she would be cremated. He thanked her cousin for calling and hung up the phone. He went to a drawer and took out the cross and chain that she had given him. He laid down , stared at the ceiling and held the cross in his hand slowly moving his index finger over the word “Love”. He picked up the phone and called her cousin. Could he come to the memorial service? She told him where and when it would be.

More On Promise Part 1 | Part 2


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