This is a difficult page to write, mostly because I shouldn't even be writing about it. It's no use thinking about the past. I do that a lot, I admit, much to my detriment, because it doesn't really serve any purpose, for the most part. Mostly it just brings on an ache and makes me wonder how I could have done it differently. But maybe I wouldn't have done anything differently. It is so easy to look back now and be all the wiser, or maybe even not at all wise, but to wish that you had pursued something that wasn't right for you. Or, at least, that was how it seemed at the time. And whether it was or not doesn't matter anymore because life does indeed go on and new relationships enter our lives.
I found the song, "Just Tell Me You Love Me," by the duo, England Dan and John Ford Coley to be one of the most beautiful songs I had ever heard. No doubt I started hearing it at a time in my life when I longed for romance. It was very pleasant to the ear and very soothing. I fell in love with it. And I knew that even though it was a romantic song, the word, love, could be expressed in so many ways in different kinds of relationships.
Some time later, a few words on a poster that I happened to see in a nun's office (I was in my early twenties and it was during the time when I was active in my parish) made quite an impression on me. It said, "If you love someone, let them know." Or something very close to it. It was very simple and to the point. And not at all a new message. But that day, it caught my eye and stayed with me.
I don't remember how much time passed after that but later, I was inspired to write a story which, to my sheer delight, was accepted for publication in a magazine for young adults.
Heaven knows why as I obviously wanted to make my name as a writer but I wrote the short story under a pseudonym. Safer, I suppose, always wanting to feel safe. It was titled, "Just Tell Me You Love Me." (Yes, just like the song itself but I liked it and had no desire to change it.) Perhaps it wasn't very imaginative but it was how I felt at the time and it was very special to me. It wasn't a romantic love story although it was a love story of sorts. It was about a sister's love for her older brother who was leaving for University in another country. (Oh yes, even then, I couldn't write enough about such things, apparently. But writing the story was a good release for me.) And in the story, a small teddy bear was used to express the love between them.
When he entered my life again, even though he was already a married man, I shared that story with him. After all, I was proud of my achievement and he'd always known that I loved to write. So I made a copy of it and mailed it to him.
After a while, I was notified by the post office that there was a package for me. They couldn't deliver it as it was partially damaged and I would have to go to the post office to collect it myself. The post office clerk read to me the name of the sender, if I recall, and so then I knew that it was from him. And I was very curious as to what it could be.
I soon found out. It was a medium-sized box. Inside was a dark brown teddy bear. He had sent me a teddy bear, larger in size than the one I had written about in the story. Was it in response to the story that I had sent him? Was it his way of telling me that he loved me? And I never knew why but as I walked home from the post office, carrying the box (with the bear inside), I felt quite self-conscious when I thought people at a bus-stop were looking at me. It was as if they knew what I was carrying. I think I felt rather shy.
I was also quite tickled, as well as, touched, and put it on display in my bedroom. It was special to me as it was a gift from him.
There was no hidden motive when I mailed him that story. I sincerely wanted to share it with him. I wanted to share my joy and success. It was my first published story. Of course I was thrilled. And I think he knew that.
Due to the dust it had accummulated over the years, I decided not to bring it with me across the oceans when I later left home to get married. Plus it probably wasn't a good idea, I thought at the time. I had to let go and start anew. I did bring with me the sweater he once sent me (I don't remember if it was before or after the teddy bear). It was a piece of clothing, after all, and might be useful. It wasn't only for practical reasons, I admit, as I still wanted to keep something that was from him, something that was once his.
I still love the song that started all this. And even though he did tell me that he loved me, I don't think it was ever enough, as I dearly wanted to hear it from him in person. For that could have changed everything. Or maybe nothing. I will never know. Hearing his voice over the telephone and on a cassette meant a greal deal to me. But there was never that contact, that physical closeness.
There was a time when I thought we could never have a future together as I was heading in a different direction, spiritually. I was so caught up in that journey and wanted to do the right thing. And perhaps I did get confused along the way. And I also now wonder if he ever imagined a future with me. I certainly thought so at one point, or wanted to think so. And the same answer comes back to me, I will never know.
And now, at an age when I should know better, I seem to wonder all over again what might have been. And perhaps I'm wondering because I don't feel very settled at the moment. And during times like these, one tends to think back to the past. I know that I do. And I've often thought about him. It is futile, I know. Very futile.
How odd that he pursued it one time, even after he was married, and I was a single woman. Maybe, at that time, he was at a different place in his life. And people do change. And perhaps it was easy for it was only long-distance, after all. We still couldn't see each other nor talk to each other. I guess I will never really know what went through his mind.
I just remember him. And his gifts. And his words. And the best thing I can do for myself for now is to stop listening to the song that has the same title as the short story. Famous last words, I know. My excuse will be that it is still a beautiful song and if I want to listen to it, well then, I will listen to it.
This is for you, as far away as you are. It doesn't matter if you never read these words. One fine day, if you do, then you do. But I had to write them and I think that you can understand that. Actually, I know that you will understand that for you knew me very well one time. But it was a long time ago and we have both moved on. Time, however, seems to have stood still within, or regressed or ... whatever. It's kept company by the strangest of emotions.
There was a time when you reached out, and later, I was the one who reached out, and it seemed that we fell back into the familiar pattern again each time. But that was many years ago, wasn't it? And in between, life happens and minds, hearts, or attitudes, are sometimes changed.
A few years ago, when I called (a foolish thing to do, I know) and asked if you remembered me, you laughingly said, "Yes" and I wondered later if you were amused or nervous. And I actually thought it was going quite well even though I was nervous and I think I was rambling. And then as I kept on talking, trying to explain myself, I realised there was no one on the other end of the line. You had hung up on me. And I should have known then, accepted it then, as I know and accept it now, that you have closed the door, even to friendship. Maybe it was something that had to happen. So I, also, will hang up now.
No more words are necessary, are they. No more words, no more stories to tell you about.
Thank you for that teddy bear. After all this time, at least those words seem to be necessary. They may seem unnecessary to you and I don't even have the bear anymore. But it's a sweet memory. That's all.
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