I was thinking of the weaving strands of love; a blanket to hold – anxiety tamed.
An offhanded glance at the newspaper stopped Doug’s heart. There she was, his first love, beaming at him … from the obituary page. She had been his constant, his North Star, the secret piece of his heart he could never give away, the love he’d hoped to win back. Gone.
Something had awoken in him the first time he saw her. They were young – still in high school – but when their eyes locked in the record store he’d been flooded with heat and nerves and an astonishing clarity on one thing: he could not let her go. He left the mall that day with her number tattooed on his skin, buzzing with the electricity of their first touch, after she fished the novelty pen out of her Kids Meal box to scratch it on his hand. They dated that year, and he reeled in the vertigo of young love. When they broke up he blamed himself, but as their lives progressed they managed to stay connected. Life’s phases passed, other relationships bloomed, but Doug always reached back to her. When his demons threatened to sink him, her reassurances from afar buoyed him. He needed her, wanted her, told her so. She loved him deeply, but differently, and yearned for him to be at peace. And then she was gone; at just 23, her lovely light extinguished. He spent years aching silently for what might have been.
Two decades have passed, and when he reads her words today he embraces her message – that he matters, and is worthy. Long gone from this world, her love continues to hold him aloft.