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.