Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The difference 14 years makes

It hardly seems real that it has been so long since I experienced one of the first of many pivotal moments in my life. It was my first great loss. That was the day Steve Sears died. It was also just hours after my 16th birthday was officially over. Many people probably think I'm insane or lying when I tell them this story, but I swear on everything that it is absolutely, 100% the truth:

It wasn't until a couple of days later that I found out my dream coincided with the time of Steve's death, almost exactly. But on the night of my 16th birthday, I had a dream about him. In my dream, Steve called me and asked me to meet him at Hardees. Somehow I made it there. (Though in real life it is over half an hour's drive from where I lived & I had no car or license at the time. But I digress.) I sat in a booth near a window across the table from Steve. He just sort of looked at me and then he said that he understood why I was with Raymond and that all he wanted was for me to be happy. Then he told me he loved me, stood up, and walked out. That was the end of my dream.

14 years later, I remember that dream like it happened yesterday. It was vivid and real and once I found out that Steve died the night I had that dream, it haunted me for years. For the first 10 years after his death, I pined for him pretty intensely. I realize now that the only reason my grief went as far as it did was b/c I wasn't happy with Raymond. I was miserable with him. I thought Steve was the person I was meant to be with forever and not only did I let him go to be with someone I couldn't stand, he died before I could right that horrible wrong. I believed I had chosen the wrong path and my lousy marriage was the punishment for that choice. I didn't just mourn the loss of my first love, I obsessed about him.

And then I met Justin. Before I knew what hit me, I met the man I was actually meant to be with. It didn't matter that for the previous decade I thought I was meant to be with a ghost. That idea faded without a second's hesitation. I put to rest my guilt for letting Steve slip through my fingers b/c losing him was one of the many moments that led me to the place I truly belonged; the place I am now. (And I do not say that to disparage Steve's memory in the slightest.) I will never stop loving him. But the love is different than it was. I love that he is a part of my short but rich history. I love that my friend Heather is a part of that and witnessed those two short years that mine and Steve's lives were intertwined. I love that I can think about him now and smile without feeling like I missed out on my destiny. What we were meant to have was exactly what we had. God had a reason for taking him when he did. And before he left, Steve attempted to give me closure in the form of a haunting and beautiful dream. It's my own stupidity that didn't allow that closure to fully happen for so long. Most of all, I love that every so often, when I least expect it, his name is brought up and with it come some incredible memories. Almost as if he is saying "have your closure, but don't forget me". How very Steve-like.

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