The Coffee Shop

And here we are, standing face to face again as if we never knew each other- as if your hand never tenderly caressed my face or anything further. We stood there staring at each other with blank expressions and uneasy eyes like we never spoke the words I love you more than one can remember, like my mind never often wondered how I would style our daughter’s hair or if our son would mirror your gentle yet confident personality. I wanted to say something just as bad as I wanted you back then, but I didn’t know what to say anymore. It had been five years and after all these years I still played our reunion over and over in my head. I thought by now I would know exactly what I wanted to say, exactly what I wanted my body to do when we met once more. But, one look at you and I was lost for words, paralyzed with nervous expectation.

And here you were with nothing to say either.

After our eyes were locked for what seemed like an eternity, I mustered up everything I had to say hello. Although I wasn’t sure how this word would come out- sad, excited, hurt, confused, maybe a mixture of it all, I had my mind set to say it. Just as this hello was on the tip of my tongue forcing its way out, I saw her coming out the bathroom. She was very pregnant and immediately I knew she was your wife. She mirrored the woman I wanted to be, the woman I would describe to you as your perfect match, not me. I often said this in hopes you would say in return, I was good enough and that whoever I was describing would never compete with me. But, you never said anything like this. You would just let me talk like you always did.

One look at her and I knew she was all the things I could never be for you.

I couldn’t take my eyes off her. With tears welling up in my eyes I stared — hoping, wishing, praying that she was your long-lost sister I never got the chance to meet or a cousin who was in town visiting. Precisely as I was finishing my plea to God, a little girl came rushing out behind her running to you with two full pigtails, bouncing with every stride. She was screaming, Daddy I did it!  I used the bathroom without Mommy’s help! Everyone in the coffee shop couldn’t help but laugh and smile at this little girl who looked like your spitting image. I, on the other hand, couldn’t muster up a smile, a laugh or the hello I thought would make you want me again, want the memories we could never finish.

In that moment, I felt my heart shatter to pieces and I knew it would never beat the same. I wanted to scream at you in an attempt to ruin your life like you did mine. But, before I let my body give sound to my pain and disrupt your daughter’s personal victory, I rushed out the door. I left out walking slowly at first, like maybe you would run after me, and then I realized how selfish that was and began to run. You had a family, a family that was about to expand and I had myself and our warm memories I held on to thinking you were somewhere holding on to them too. The night before I probably slept restlessly in your shirt. The night before that I probably cooked our favorite meal for one in your over-sized sweatpants. I realized none of this mattered anymore and I would have to let go of these ingrained thoughts like you let go of me long, long, long before I knew it.

Crying and running is hard. Nevertheless, I kept crying and running past my car. I refused to get in because I knew I wouldn’t start the car. I knew I would wait for you and your beautiful family to come out with smiles plastered like they were permanent and gaze with hopeless desire at what I dreamt of being my life. I couldn’t watch you get in your car and drive out of my life again. I continued running, running and crying.

Quite sometime later I stopped running. Winded, sweating and still crying, I realized I was running to your gravesite. Here, we laid you to rest five years ago after you died in a car crash with your twin behind the wheel. Escorted by this realization, I walked slowly to your grave, sat down, rested my aching head on your tombstone and told you that I’ve done it yet again, believing with all my heart that you were your twin- hoping, wishing and praying that the night five years ago was just a dream and today I finally woke up to find you alive and well.


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