One Last Time

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Where did time go? These days, I look in the mirror and see the evidence of its subtle passing: gray peppers my goatee, a constant receding hairline and extra pounds round my waistline. But, one day I rounded the corner and saw her sitting quietly alone. All at once, time not only stood still, it rewound.

There was my old friend, just as I had always remembered her. Despite time’s undaunted march, she hadn’t changed a bit. Suddenly, all the love I had stored inside—love I thought had long since faded away—came back in a spectacular explosion that left me dumbfounded. She never saw me hesitate; too busy entertaining her smartphone. She didn’t see my smile, didn’t see me choke back emotion at the mere sight of her again. I couldn’t believe how happy I was to see her after so much time had passed. Yet, it was as if no time had passed at all.

By the time I walked to her, my façade was in place: a light joke; a gentle hug; a quick glance into her eyes, just to let her know I was really with her. Her eyes were still just as beautiful and deep as I remembered, but…but…something…

I met her children; each one just as beautiful as their mother, with a hint of their father in each innocent face. We watched them play as we talked. I watched them cling to her in their own individual ways, and saw her easily and instinctively love them as a mother should. The love in my heart multiplied. I was so proud of the woman she had become; the mother and wife I imagined she would someday be.

Suddenly, I remembered a scene from a lifetime ago; and yet it seemed to be just yesterday. My friend, kneeling down in a flower bed, planting. I watched her from the window of her apartment and saw the woman she would someday be; the woman she is now, sitting here in front of me, loving her children. She didn’t notice me whisper a silent prayer of thanks to God, for watching over her, for the past 15 years. She didn’t know I praised him for giving her the man she’d asked for, and her beautiful babies.

Our small talk was just that. I loved my friend enough to respect her new life. There would be no professing how much I missed her presence in my life; how deeply I still loved her, though the love I harbor is far removed from lust. The fact that I can’t talk to her whenever she crosses my mind, sometimes seems unfair, but it is a price that I accept, if only to know she’s okay. It is the moment I’ve prayed for a hundred times.

“Please God. Bring us back together one last time. Let me look on her, and see her happiness.”

Something in her eyes. My façade faltered and I showed my worry. I gazed into her eyes, but she looked away, trying to convince me a dozen times that she was fine. My heart hurt for her. There was nothing I could do but pray that God would fix whatever was broken. In my humanity, I wanted to pry; I needed to know if there was anything I could do. But this was not my place, and I knew it. I had been on the road she was now traveling, and knew what bumps lie ahead. My friend; despite her blessings, she was sad inside.

As we parted ways, I casually told her I loved her, and she responded in kind. And as I walked away, I could feel my age and my world return to their rightful place in my life. Yet, every day since, I pray for my friend and her entire family. I pray that God would work a miracle to bring joy and happiness back into her everyday life. And I pray that she knows, someone outside of her everyday world, an old friend will always love her.

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