After reading Jet-Poop's wu, I began to think about my own act of "relationship cowardice" that affected my life greatly.
Her name was Angela and she was probably the first love of my life. Yeah, everybody goes through silly puppy love and crushes when they're young but this was the first time that I truly felt love that went beyond all that "kissy kissy" crap and dove right into beauty of all dimensions. I'd tell you more about Angela but I've already done a wu on her so you can check it out yourself.
Anyway, when I first met her, we would talk for hours on end about everything. She was beautiful, intelligent, witty, and not only a good talker but a great listener. Up to that point, I had never been as open to anybody as I was with her...I told her all of my aspirations, my fears, and everything in between. At the end of each of our long conversations, she would always seem surprised that we had been talking for around 3 hours...time just flew by so quickly.
Angela had just started going to the church that I was attending on the odd moment and soon after, she had begun her transformation from a young and beautiful woman into a young, beautiful, devout Christian woman. Funny thing is that as much as I was not following Christian values (the drinking, smoking, and general nastiness didn't help), I think that I fell in love with her even more because she became so passionate about her beliefs...this passion just added to her already overwhelming beauty.
We did go out on a date but it was a disaster and I won't go into it here. We decided that it would be wise for us to hold off on any further dates until our relationship grew a little more.
Well, my actions didn't help much. I drank more, screwed around more, and acted like a real bonehead. On the other hand, she delved more and more into the ongoings at the church and became one of the most active members there. Gradually, our lives began to drift apart.
One year, prior to most of us leaving town for university, we had one of our annual camping trips by Lac Phillipe. It was a great time but, as usual, I was the brooding and dour person of the bunch. Angela would try to approach me and talk but I, being stupid, would brush her off each time.
Finally, I told her that if we were going to talk, I wanted to do so in privacy. We then walked down to the lakeside at night and sat together staring out at the moonlit waters. We struck up a conversation like we used to and it went well until I blurted out, "Hey, I've been wanting to tell you something and I figured that since we're all leaving for university soon, now is a good a time as any."
She looked at me inquistively with her beautiful brown eyes and asked what it was that I wanted to say.
"Well, I just wanted to say that I'm still in love with you. I loved you then and I love you now and, man, it kills me to think that we're not together."
She was stunned and speechless. I continued talking.
"I know that we said that we shoud hold off until our relationship grew. But it would seem that it hasn't grown much and is actually moving apart. However, throughout all of this, I still think of you constantly, through night and day."
Still no response. I went on.
"Maybe we're not meant to be together. I can accept that. All I want to know is this...did you ever have the same feelings for me? Did you ever think of me as much as I've thought of you?"
Long pause. Finally, a response.
"I'm, uh, flattered. I really am. I don't know what to say."
Long pause again...then the slap to my face.
"I don't know if I could love anybody as much as I love God."
Now it was my turn to be stunned. That wasn't really answering my question but in some strange way, it was. There was a really long pause now and then I replied.
"I understand your love for God. I'm not looking to replace that by any means...kind of difficult to replace an omnipotent divine power with an 18 year old Chinese punk kid. All I want to know is whether you've ever thought about us. A dream, a fleeting moment, deja vu, whatever...all I want to know is did it ever cross your mind?"
Silence. A really long deathly silence...which said enough to me.
The conversation ended when a group of our friends from the campsite came out searching for us, thinking that we were attacked by a bear or something. We all headed back to the campsite together and I tried to forget that it ever happened.
On our ride home the very next day, as I began to sulk over the previous night's debacle, Angela came up to me in our bus and handed me a tape. It was some album by Michael W. Smith, a Christian music artist. She instructed me to listen to the first song on side B of the tape.
"That will tell you how I feel."
So I did. The song was called "On the Other Side". I won't include the full lyrics but I'll show you the following excerpt that really killed me.
Why is it hard for you to see
All the changes made in me
Here on the other side
Oh, I could help you understand
And you could join me where I am
I am on the other side
What did it mean? Was she trying to tell me that we could be together but the only thing holding me back was my lack of complete devotion to God?
Being the irrational and stupid boy that I was, I became angry...angry at her, angry at the church, and angry at God. I didn't know what to think...so I just became angry at the Holy Father for messing up what could have been a great relationship.
When Angela asked if I had listened to the tape, I replied coldly, "I don't have time to listen to this stuff." To this day, I have never seen a look of disappointment on anybody's face as I did that day when I told her that.
We didn't talk again for days which led to weeks and then to months and eventually years. She had left for another church and I hardly heard about her after that.
Until she died.
On that day, a whole floodgate of memories was opened up and I was overwhelmed with regret. After so many years of not thinking about what could have been, I couldn't stop thinking about it again. All that time wasted when I was younger, only thinking about how I was screwed by God and that there was no hope of Angela and I ever getting back together. It finally dawned on me that it was never anybody's fault but my own - all due to my own cowardice. Was it really all that difficult for me to try and see if I could see things the way she did? Was it really that hard to try to understand and perhaps embrace what she believed in?
Was it really all that impossible for me to join her on the other side?
I suppose I'll never know...and this will haunt me for the rest of my life.