I barely remember the soft crescendo of the door swinging closed, but I clearly recall the jarring finality of the bang. My life had changed directions twice in the past two years but, now, this third change just reduced me. There was so little I did, so little I thought I could do.
I couldn't think about it. I told myself that I had to move ahead and not dwell on the past. I told myself anything I could to be convinced that I was better off paying attention to my responsibilities, my family on-the-way and my future. I forced myself to forget about the person on the other side of that door, invisible, who told me to have a nice life before saying a heart-breaking goodbye.
I diverted from a life I'd had rather lived to a new heading and flew with different, but lesser, wings. Three years after that door had locked, that voice helped comfort me when my father died. Two years later her voice warned me I would have my hands full when I chased my escaping red-haired daughter up the stairs from the Rathskeller. Three years later, even while standing in the same yard, I couldn't hear her voice at all.
My children grew and went to school, a business thrived then failed, a marriage flowed and ebbed --ebbing more and flowing less with each succeeding day-- and a small parade of surrogate relationships stumbled with me through the years: bad crutches for the emotionally lame.
By the time my marriage ground to a halt, I was spent. Those surrogate crutches I'd leaned on were thrown away. I'd have rather been completely alone than sleep in that bed I'd made. But while I scrambled to keep from sliding down into my own pity party, I saw a picture, remembered a name and thought about the time in my life before I ever heard that heart-breaking goodbye.
I sent a simple message, I said I was surprised I had stumbled across her --the surprise was real, the stumble wasn't. I typed a few short keyclicks of the beginning of her name and a link was displayed. One more click and there was the face I hadn't seen in 23 years. I crumbled.
She sent me a pleasant reply, I sent one back. Despite the history --our breakup nearly 28 years before-- I was comfortable and relaxed sending her a sentence here and a sentence there then poring over every word she wrote back to me.
A few deep breaths after I parked the car I was moving quickly towards the entrance door. Once inside, before my eyes adjusted to the light inside, I saw her waving a few steps from where I stood. I hurried to her and we hugged; and in that moment the warm, gentle embrace of the woman I still loved surrounded us both and the only thing I could think of was, "Uh Oh." More changes...