Monday, March 10, 2008

The Stolen Smile - CONCLUSION

6. The Fullest Understanding of Destiny

One day, a lifetime later, after most of the stages of my life were past—a greater more enduring love, followed by marriage, children, and job retirement , I went to a busy restaurant for lunch.

And while sitting there alone in a far corner of the restaurant, I heard a hearty soul-tingling laugh. I looked and saw blue eyes, blond hair, and a smile. Hair and eyes—slightly paled, yet remotely familiar. But the smile? Still the same. And yeh, next to him, though so much older now, the thief that took him.

Another old friend from ages past was in the restaurant that day. He moved silently behind my chair and tapped me on the shoulder. Then he leaned close and whispered in my ear. “Do you know who that is?”

“Yes,” I said somewhat bewildered but understanding that he asked because he remembered how sweet we had once been in old, old history.

I looked furtively. Not wanting Gary to see me looking at him and he looked furtively, not wanting me to see him looking at me. But more importantly, I didn’t want the thief to see us looking at each other. It might give her some kind of sick joy that I would heartily disapprove of. She well knew years ago before she ever took him that he was mine.

Memories flooded back of Gary’s shiftless, homeless ways. Living in his truck. Wearing those dirty worn clothes. But even yet I found nothing disparaging in remembering that. But somehow he had lost all that appeal the way he looked today. Slick and polished and done up so mighty fine that I was doubtful, in some stupid unreasonable way, that he had ever even known the Gary I knew.

I felt emotionless. Obviously destiny had left more dots than dashes and given me complete healing for my pain.

The smile, of course, had never faltered. Somehow I knew it never would. The eyes that always twinkled with merriment still twinkled in that same old way. I heard the contagious joy in his laugh at something someone said over at his end of the room. I even found myself chuckling. And incredibly, I even felt the weak helplessness that physically hits after a hearty laugh, though I didn’t even know the joke.

But, except for that, I was emotionless. And despite the pain revealed in this story, I felt no regrets. How could I when with the wisdom of age, a flash of uncanny intuition made me realize the blessing of all that occurred? How sad life would have become if our relationship had not been rudely interrupted? How failed our hopes and dreams? It would have been such a waste and such a sad affair.

Because I am well aware that what I needed then, and still need now, was a giver of support and stabilization. Practical counsel, and a wise protector. And evidently, that was what Gary needed as well.

We were both flailing weaklings with no practicality. Embedded in nothing more than wisps of dreams and star-dust. More than anything else, we needed the strength of another to prop us up. And in that moment it was obvious to me how hopeless and foolhardy it would have been for us to attempt to be supportive of each other.

And so, if you don’t want to call it destiny, that’s fine with me. But some unseen force, more favorable than I could have imagined, sidetracked what might have been. And like God, when he surveyed the work of creation, I looked at all of it – the beginning, the middle, and the end, and “behold, it was very good.”(Gen. 1:31).

The first work of the creation of this old world provided generous life-provisions of plants, animals, light, and water. And within the mimicry of these natural blessings, I too was given generous life-provisions of family, love, sustenance, care, and all other needs.

And so, I am extravagantly pleased and excessively content. I have no complaints and neither should he. I have my strong and trusted caregiver and protector, and he seems to have his.

That’s how it should be, shouldn’t it?


I finished my sandwich and gathered up my coat and purse in order to leave the restaurant. I could feel the intense heat of eyes watching me and I promptly tripped over the table and scattered the contents of a half-filled coffee cup in my lap and in the scramble worsened the situation by adding to it my unfinished fries and a full glass of ice water.

But so what? Those kinds of things can happen any day of the year, any time, in any restaurant.



Pauline said...

oh the wonder of hindsight -

It is a good thing that time lessens pain, that good things follow other good things, that you were okay even though you wore much of your lunch, and that this story didn't end with the two of you having some kind of clandestine affair.
(though knowing the persuasion of your words, were you to weave a story around the possibility, I'd believe you)

Joy Des Jardins said...

I guess destiny is the perfect word. It was destiny that you should encounter Gary in that restaurant just as it was destiny and fate that you should go your separate ways all those years ago. Sometimes these encounters are fated to connect us once again to our past...and sometimes they are merely encounters. That is the irony...and beauty of life. This was a touching and beautiful conclusion Roberta.

Roberta S said...

Thanks for the comment, Pauline. Thank you also for letting me know that the words were persuasive -- I only manage that when I am writing with strong inner conviction. And thanks for sticking with me. Very much appreciated.

Roberta S said...

joy, I am so pleased that you found enjoyment in my story. And thank you so much taking the time to add that kind comment that conveyed to me an understanding that maybe the story I so long debated telling, and so long rotated with such perplexity in my head, and so apprehensively told, did have something in the telling that gave it worth.

Pauline said...

Roberta - you are a wonderful storyteller. I always get caught up in the weave of your words, wondering where you're going to lead me next. You make me think along different lines, make me question my own way of thinking. That's a good thing. It's not so much a matter of sticking with you as not being able to stay away.

joared said...

Interesting conclusion as I realized just how deeply you felt Gary's loss those many years ago.
A very moving emotional story you've described. I can't help thinking about how you were left to find some "closure" by yourself all those years.

Still, describing your restaurant experience, "Those kinds of things can happen..." -- but ..... how different our reasoning and emotional beings can sometimes react and be from one another.

Causes me to recall someone in my life long ago. Our separation was truly best for both of us based upon my later reflection. Our encounter about a year later with time together, provided one of those rare times when I think the term "closure" truly applied for me.

Roberta S said...

Interesting comments, joared. Although I assumed my story was unique, it obviously isn't. Not at all.

Thanks for commenting.

Matty said...

Roberta..I think we all have a story like that in our past. I'm glad that Fate intervened. Thanks for a wonderful usual.

Roberta S said...

Hi matty. Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the story -- despite the bloody annoyance of the interruptions of waiting for the next post.

I enjoyed having you along.

joared said...

Your story WAS unique from mine, Roberta, as sounds like more years had passed than I experienced and you both had partners. I was very startled when my friend contacted me, plus we were both still single, and were able to spend a whole afternoon together. I wouldn't want to predict what might have happened had I had the restaurant experience you did. Yeah, "those kinds of things can happen..." ;-)

jim said...

Great ending to a great story written by a great writer, my hat is off to you Roberta.

Curve balls are a necessary part of the ball game. Good for them, for you, and for me too, many of us can thank other than ourselves for our lifes and loves and eventual good times.

Roberta S said...

Thanx, jim. Glad you enjoyed the story and you are so right about the curve balls.