When the Truth Didn’t Hurt

This post comes from a weekly memoir writing prompt provided by The Red Dress Club. This week’s RemembeRED prompt was to write about a time something seemingly terrible happened,but looking back, it brought something wonderful.


“Come over,” she said in response to my sobbing.

Sniffle, snort, snort.

“Really, you think I’m going to make a fun addition to your New Year’s Eve party?”

“Maybe not, but I can’t stand thinking about you all alone over there.”

I was 27, divorced and a single mom of an almost three-year-old.

In a New York airport, my parents and brothers were preparing to bunker down for the night until the snow subsided enough to allow flights to leave. My paternal grandfather died unexpectedly after Christmas. Money for an airline ticket was nonexistent, coupled with the fact that I didn’t have reliable child care or time-off from my hourly job. I really felt like I had let my Dad down. His heart was broken over the loss of his father, a man I admired and loved too and yet I couldn’t go with them to say my goodbyes. I couldn’t kiss my Baba in her grief, comforting some of my own.

My body felt small and disjointed, like I was Alice sipping from the bottle marked, “Drink Me”, watching walls and doors tower above me. Life outside was suddenly becoming out of reach and very much alone.

“Just come, okay?” she insisted.

Hours later I found myself clad in jeans and a t-shirt, staring blankly at couples I didn’t know, trying to absorb the celebrations. Unresolved tears still burned behind my eyes, thinking not only about the funeral I had missed, but the haunting grief of my own failures.

“Hi,” said a deep voice, “My name is DW. How are you?”

I stared blankly, wondering how in the world I was going to answer this. He didn’t know who I was, but my friend had already pointed him out as her single brother-in-law visiting from Michigan. He was leaving Texas the next day to drive miles and miles away.

“Nice to meet you DW, I’m Emily,” I replied, swallowing my pride. “I guess the polite thing to say would be I’m Fine because it would take more than a couple bottles of wine to tell you how I really am.”

Here was his chance to run in the other direction.

“Well, I don’t have any wine but maybe this beer will do.”

Like a paper cup that has held water for too long, my story began to seep out, draining emotions, fears and aspirations. DW listened to every word. It was dawn before our conversation ended and surely a relief to him that I had to go home finally. Maybe it was because I knew our paths would probably never cross again that I revealed so many truths. For the first time in years, someone had really listened without condemnation or pity. In fact, DW had pointed out all of my strengths and successes. He saw beauty in my pain.

48 hours later the phone rang and I said, “Hello?”

6 months later I said, “I do.”

On June 9th, we will celebrate our ten-year anniversary.

Just as handsome today as when we met

12 thoughts on “When the Truth Didn’t Hurt

  1. Hello. I thought I’d let you know I had visited and enjoyed what I had read. I really liked the similie ‘like a paper cup that had held water for too long…’ Setting this aside, congratulations and may you celebrate many more happy years together.

    Talia.

  2. I stumbled across your blog and OMG, I teared up. You are a good writer and I really felt like I was watching this tale unfold before me. I love it.

  3. Awww! Thank goodness for the ‘angels’ in our lives. Oh, and a (early) happy anniversary! 🙂

  4. swooooooon

    love this. you were vulnerable and transparent, he was patient and willing to listen.. AND after all that listening he called you the next day.

    my kind of guy. way to go.

  5. I read your About Me before I read this post, so I was sort of able to guess where the story was heading before I finished. I was so happy I was right! I loved the quick, simple, to the point ending.

    So wonderful you have found a solid partner in life! I look forward to reading more of your stuff!!!

  6. This story has the happiest ending ever!
    What a great person he is to be so giving of his time, and ear, to someone he’d just met. He must have seen something very special in you.

  7. That was, indeed, a painful time for our little family, and DW turned it into something beautiful. Life is full of surprises, and DW is one of the best!

  8. OK, OK!! You made me cry! I wasn’t expecting that. What a wonderful story on so many levels. Your expression of your pain is so real because you describe the surreal nature of the grief. Your imagery is fantastic – I love this: “Like a paper cup that has held water for too long, my story began to seep out, draining emotions, fears and aspirations.”

    And THEN to be able to SEE from moment ONE of meeting this man what a beautiful and wonderful soul he is. What a happy new year! What a beautiful love story! And proof that angels were guiding you that day (maybe even your grandfather)!

    Love it!

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