She calls it her Thirty Minutes of Wonderful.
I call it my memories to look back upon in my old age … if I ever get there.
When I was going through the worst of the pain of heartbreak many months ago, I found myself talking to a woman who was a counselor type. She was performing in her official capacity and I found myself sharing my story of overwhelming love and profound loss.
She glanced from side to side and then in a hushed tone spoke to me.
“You know, I shouldn’t say this … but I have been in the same position as you are. That thunderstruck passion … that all-encompassing love … all of it. And you know what? Most women never ever have that. Not even for one minute. They will never know.”
“You and I are the lucky ones. We have had that in our lives. Even though it didn’t last as long as we wanted and it didn’t turn out the way that we wanted … we had that. And nobody can ever take that away from us. Ever.”
It wasn’t at all what she and I were really supposed to be talking about. But it struck me as fundamentally true. And she encouraged me to write a thank you letter to him.
I started asking people. Women especially. And no, there were no other women who had experienced this. Not at that level.
Except my friend Texas Linda.
We talked about that kind of thing again last night as I was driving home from my radio shift. That kind of passion. That Thirty Minutes Of Wonderful. And it brought me to tears … tears that I thought I had healed past. Tears of memories so sweet they have a permanent place in my heart.
Today, she sent me something that she wrote in the aftermath of our conversation. A Thank-You Note. To her Thirty Minutes of Wonderful. Because she was never able to say it to him.
I also never had a chance to say thank-you. And I also have not written the letter that I promised the woman I would write. Saying thank you.
But Linda did. Last night. In the echoes of the memories of that time in her life.
She shared the letter with me just now. And asked if I might put it out here in my blog. Not that he would ever read it. Not that many would know who she is or who he is for that matter.
As far as she knows, he is still alive. Out there somewhere. With her picture still on his dresser. And those memories still in his heart.
She came very close to seeing him many months ago. Drove to his house. Parked across the street. But did not knock on his door. She did leave a sign, though.
One that he would understand, if he saw it, and thought about it. One of those special things that lovers have between them that has special meaning to them both.
She does not know if he saw the sign, thought about the sign, or thought about her.
But she did write this letter last night. And now I will share it with you. With her permission.
Her thirty minutes of wonderful …
I have been thinking about you a lot lately. How many years have you been gone, it has been more than a dozen years yet some days I still think you might just come through the front door at any moment.
There is a line in the movie “Steel Magnolias”—it goes something like this. “I would rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a life time of nothing special.” I never got the chance to thank you for the 30 minutes of wonderful you brought to my life. I will never forget the love and laughter you so freely gave me and I will always have those incredible memories to bring a smile to my heart.
You worked six days a week but Sundays were ours; long hikes at Prince Gallitzin Park. I remember how you always searched for just the right tree branch, my hero, ready to fend off curious squirrels or snakes. The long drives in the country we took to nowhere special. Just us enjoying bright sunny summer days, listening to oldies on the radio, singing along, mostly off key.
Then coming home for a spaghetti dinner eaten outside as the daylight faded and the pink and purple evening shadows deepened into darkness. What fun we had at that table in that dear little yard. Night after night we played Rummy—and you always won. To this day I do not know what your secret was and you never shared it.
I remember the night it was raining and we played cards under the umbrella and of course you won. I threw my cards on the table and got up and slipped in the wet grass. You tried to catch me but your lawn chair gave way and we ended up rolling on the wet ground, in the pouring rain, laughing and hugging each other.
Then there were the rose bushes you moved from the center of the yard to under the bedroom window so we could smell the sweet fragrance of the roses through the open window on balmy summer nights. The vegetable garden you lovingly planted with so much care, even rows of tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and peppers all to please me.
Each season had its special moments. I still have the little pewter box that has a cat, back arched, engraved on the lid that you gave me one Halloween. You told me there was something special about that box and I would have to discover it for myself. It took a while for me to realize the cedar pieces that lined the inside of the box came out and on the bottom piece of that piece wood you wrote a 10 word love note to me.
Hidden from the world just for me, it might be brief but it is as heartfelt and endearing as any love letter ever written.
I was so homesick for the ocean and one day you told me to pack an overnight bag and without telling me where we were going you took me to the shore so I could walk in the sand and surf and feel my beloved sea breeze blowing in my hair. It renewed my soul and deepened my feeling for you.
The nights I worked late I would come home and you would have supper fixed. I still laugh when I think about the time I came home and walked into our little apartment and thought something horrible had happened—had the sewer backed up? Phew it smelled awful and then you came out of the kitchen with my apron on, oven mitt on your hand and wooden spoon in your other hand. You were so proud you had fixed me a favourite dish from your childhood. Mashed potatoes, pork roast and sauerkraut –it was wonderful. What a nice memory of yours to share with me.
There are so many more instances of your goodness and thoughtfulness but one memory stands out above the rest. I came home late and there was a note saying you were at the tavern next door and for me to come get you. That particular snowy night I did just that and it was close to midnight when we finally left. We still had not had supper so I had gone ahead to a convenience store to get us a sandwich to share.
The door to the tavern was open and swirls of blue smoke drifted from the open door. It was snowing even harder and the usually busy street was deserted; no cars, no people … just you standing in the middle of the street watching me walk up the hill toward you. As I got closer to you I could hear the music coming from the open door. Englebert Humperdinck—singing “After the Lovin’”. You didn’t say a word just took me in your arms and we danced the way lovers do, slowly, close together, our bodies completely in sync. It was snowing even harder then and the snow was swirling all around us sparkling like diamond dust as we danced in the middle of the street. You looked at me and began to sing to me.
Thanks for taking me (thanks for taking me)
On a one way trip to the sun (one way trip to the sun)
And thanks for turning me (turning me)
Into a someone (someone)
So I sing you to sleep
After the lovin’
I brush back the hair from your eyes
And the love on your face
Is so real that it makes me want to cry
And I know that my song isn’t saying anything new
Oh, but after the lovin’
I’m still in love with you.
The song ended as we kissed then hand in hand we walked home. In that moment we had it all, we owned 13th Street, all was right in our world and we were truly in love.
I miss you.