I had just parked my car in the covered lot and was putting quarters in my meter, when in the farthest edge of my peripheral vision, I saw her. The one who left me.
It was her walk that grabbed my attention, made me recognize her instantly. The way she plows forward with her shoulders first – a bit tippy toed. Then I saw her hair, curls loose and long for the summer. And her typical summer outfit, cropped pants, a flowy linen shirt. Green and a little too big, like they always were.
I froze in the darkness of the parking lot, unable to move, and watched as she got into her car which was parked at this meter on the street. She’s driving a big family kind of car with a bicycle rack on the back. Room for her Trek, her wife’s too. It took her a while to pull out. I just stood there, stone still.
I have only seen C three times in the seven years. Once we met for dinner. (I didn’t eat, only cried.) Once when I walked past a beauty salon where she used to get haircuts. And today.
I could, right now, tell you all about the hurt. Or the reasons I stood immobile. I could make this be a sad story. But, like all stories, I get to determine the theme, the takeaway. The way the conflict is resolved, the denouement.
I get to figure out the grace embedded in every event.
I am going to choose to say this: I’m grateful for senstate memory. That my brain has the capacity to have known love, stored love away, and recognize that love years later by the smallest signals from 80 yards away. I am going to be grateful for the all of the places I walked beside that walk. The beach in Saugatuck. The Christmas tree farm in Kirtland. The gardens at the Biltmore.
I’m even going to be grateful that that woman left so that I could know and build other loves. Fuller loves. Years ago, she said our love was not the best thing for her. Now I know she was right; it was not the best thing for either of us.
Now go be gentle and brave,