26 March 2008

Shadow From the Past

When Tif-do called last week to pass on the news, I could only say that I wasn't surprised. When Tif-do's brother sent me an email a few days later to make sure I'd heard, however, I could no longer deny the need to know not only what had happened, but why. Learning a few more details left me with an arguably illogical sense of guilt. Guilt from a past which will surely take a long time to process. A past that I now know will never fully leave me..


Last night as I climbed into my truck, I inserted a tape in the stereo and a voice from a dozen years ago reached out and grabbed a hold of my heart.. As the tears washed away years of bitter feelings and pain, I remembered.. I remembered how much I enjoyed her laugh. I remembered that there were, in fact, good days. I remembered why it was that I had loved her.. And I really had loved her...

Following my stint in the Army, she and I spent two years in a tumultuous relationship. A relationship that included as many smiles as tears. And on one summer day we even stood in a park, exchanged rings and made promises that I ultimately didn't keep.. I hadn't put much value in those promises at the time, apparent by the fact that I hadn't even told my best friend I was making them, but I had made them.. Anyone who knew us then can tell you that it was a generally unhealthy situation, one that could never have lasted. But knowing that I was the one who walked out on her, that she is to this day the only one I've ever left, now causes me to wonder how life may have been different had I stayed..

I know that she lived her life of her own accord. I know that, as we had long ago stopped being friends, I had nothing to do with choices she made once we parted ways. I know that she selected the man she married, a man who had in turn beat her. And I know that she alone made the decision to end the pain in her heart by putting a gun to her chest.. I KNOW these things.. Still, I struggle to accept that her story would have ended the way it has, regardless if had we stayed together even a short while longer or not..

As I played that tape last night, a tape that she had made to keep me awake when I first started driving a truck, I wished it hadn't taken me 12 years to listen to it again. As difficult as it was to hear, it resolved so much of what I was feeling. For almost an hour, I smiled when she laughed, sang along with her, shook my head when she acted like a fool, and cried when she said she loved me... I wish I had listened to it before she contacted me last year wanting to rebuild our friendship, something I couldn't bring myself to do.. I wish I could take so many decisions back..

Today, as her family and friends gathered to mourn her death, I strived to make sense of the contrast between her life and mine since the years we spent together.. In the past month, as her life unraveled and tragically ended, my life is going quite well, with prospects of a happy future. A future that, as I try to push aside the shadow of the past, I hope I'll be worthy of...