It was the late fall of our college senior year. I discovered that the new Student Union building had a music room, and I was in need of some refreshing by my Beatles late one afternoon during the bustle of mid-term preparation. I approached the desk to ask for an album, and there you were with your long thick dark curls and suspenders ready to take my request. You liked the Beatles and put the album on the overhead speakers. When I returned the next afternoon and requested Imagine, you handed me headphones—no John Lennon for you. Headphones on, I became lost in the songs of this new album, and couldn’t help swaying to the beat. I glance up at one point and saw you smiling in amusement at me. We were both children, not yet 21. You had worked your way into this rather cushy work-study job and were quite adept at it. I would discover later that you were adept at anything you set your mind to—much as our granddaughter is now.
I had not only stumbled into the music room that afternoon, but also into a love that consumed me. We struck up a friendship quickly. One night a bunch of us got together in a friend’s dorm room to hang out and listen to music. You were sitting behind me. I let my right hand fall by the chair; your finger tips reached out and touched mine.
That winter break was the longest I’d ever known. I ached to get back to campus. Back at last, there was sledding down the snowy hills at lower campus on food trays that we sneaked from the dining room. There were walks in the chilled early spring air. I continued working on multiple paintings to be finished before my art show; one of them featured you and to my surprise, was recognized by passerby’s as I worked on it. There was that morning that I awoke for class to the Paul McCartney song you dedicated to me over the campus FM radio—your deep voice softly introducing it over the air waves.
We progressed toward graduation, now a month away. You began to be nervous. We were young. You came from a broken family of abuse and abandonment. You distanced yourself. You quickly flitted to her. She was laid back. She was permissive. She was less dangerous.
I met your mom and a brother at graduation. They were kind and sweet. They knew who I was.
It was a hot summer. I was broken and empty but never let on. I drove to Salem one weekend. The Tarot cards said you were looking toward me. You had left her as quickly as you found her, and gone west to find yourself. There were no cell phones back then. There was no money to be spent frivolously. I continued to search out teaching jobs as I waitressed. We were in a great recession.
That fall I got a letter. You had hitchhiked back to the east coast. You asked me to meet you in Boston in a week. I drove to the subway station and took the T the rest of the way. By God’s providence, I ran into a good friend in the middle of Boston—she was one of my bridesmaids 2 years later. We ran into another college friend, and spent a couple hours walking the city. It was the last time we ever saw him. You never showed.
Once again I ached. I was a fool. That love wouldn’t die. Then I heard from you—was it a call or a letter? I can’t remember. You had gone to Boston. You had shown up an hour before our set time. You walked the streets alone. You didn’t think I’d come so you left before the appointed hour. You asked me to meet you outside the college campus the following week. I reticently agreed.
I drove to the town where we had first met. I waited an hour. Once again I realized the folly of hope. I resigned myself to loss and headed for my car. At that moment you showed. You had hitchhiked. It was hard getting rides. You were weary and disillusioned from your summer in Yellowstone. You had just now been offered a good job and would be a fool to reject it. You didn’t want it—it would mean moving far away again. You were overwhelmed. I asked “Why do you have to take it?” You looked bewildered and relieved. You’d not considered that.
So our friendship picked up again with letters. Letters that have crossed the country and back over the years. Letters that are somewhere in the attic. I will find them and read them someday.
I moved to Maine the following summer. I needed to find where I belonged. You came up one weekend. In an obscure tiny town several miles from the boarding house where I was living, we ran into the glorious Saviour. You moved up to Maine. We began graduate work at a Bible college. He changed our lives for eternity.
You have moved on into His eternity. I am still that youth at heart. I still have that hope against all odds. I live constrained in the Father’s loving will.