Wednesday, June 26, 2013

One day too late.

In my life, I have collected a vast assortment of 'What If' moments.

As I sit here writing this blog entry, I can't help but consider all the paths my life might have taken had certain events not happened how and when they did. I'll discuss a few.

What if I weren't born?

Well, my mom and dad certainly wouldn't have stayed together. In the time since my mother's passing, I've learned from others some important details as to my birth. Apparently, I was the anchor that kept my parents together. Though my mother was in an abusive relationship, the pregnancy made her stay. Great - so my spawning kept her in a bad marriage. And I wonder why my mother and I never really connected! Deep down, she probably despised my existence. Everything that was wrong in her world was manifest in me. When my mom was real bad off before her demise, I asked her if there was anything she needed to tell me; anything that she needed me to know before she was gone. She said nothing. There is one positive spin on my parents staying together... my younger siblings. Josh, James, Julie - you each hold a piece of my heart. You are my family, forever and always. Nothing will ever shake us. You are my rock and my everything.

What if I'd gone off to a proper college?

This one is a frickin' joke and upsets me to this day. I like to think I'm a smart guy. At the very least, I'm versatile, eager to learn and quick to pick up information. Some perspective: I had no desire to be my high school class valedictorian because it meant nothing to me (the soured-up socialite that took that honor can keep it). If I'd wanted the "honor", it would have been mine. To this day, I still laugh at our graduation ceremony. Literally, I fell asleep on stage with the other honor graduates out of sheer boredom. Upon graduating high school, I'd been accepted to not one, but three different colleges. Those institutions were Boston University, Emory and Washington University in St. Louis. Did I go to any of them? No. Why? Because I was too nice of a guy. I hung around Southside Virginia for the sake of an unnamed family member to assist in their entrance to community college. Yet, they ultimately never went to school because they copped out. And there I was - a guy that could have gone on to a finer institution... dealing with rudimentary hogwash at a two-bit rural community college. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And to think - my folks didn't assist one bit with college. Not a book, not a class... nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Not even a "Kiss my ass, Jared". You know... taking some interest in my continuing education would have been appreciated.

What if I'd spoken up sooner?

I've never spoken about this information publicly, so please bear with me.

The year was 1999. I cared about a fellow classmate in high school very much; had for a few years. I'm not going to say I loved her because I was young and wouldn't have even known what love was. Not only was I young, but I'd never even had a date with a girl. That being said... I had feelings for someone quite special. We were friends and worked together on our school yearbook. We exchanged emails fairly often. Sometimes we'd eat lunch together. I was still a timid young man, though. Talking to a girl was scary, to say the least. As her senior prom rolled around (she was a year ahead of me), it took me forever to work up the nerve to ask her to go with me. And... I waited too long to ask. Some other schmuck had asked her already (yes, he was and forever will be a schmuck). But, she didn't get weirded out by my asking. Surprisingly, she responded positively to my asking. Even though she graduated, we stayed in touch. We'd call each other on the phone and talk. Finally, roughly two months after her graduation, I'd worked up enough courage to ask her out again. And... this time she said yes! I was thrilled beyond anything I'd ever known at that point in my life. She said that she'd already made plans for that evening, but that we'd definitely go out the next day. Boy... was I a happy guy.

Then, the next day came. She was gone.

Little did I know at the time that the plans she had for that fateful evening would lead to her own passing. I won't go into details out of respect for her. Many of you, my former classmates, will know the particulars of what happened. If you're curious, contact me directly for further info. Albeit, I was devastated. I didn't show my pain - I bottled that up too (just like everything else). There I was, facing my own fear and realizing a horrible truth - I waited just one day too long. What if I'd asked her out one day sooner? I could have saved her life. I could have taken her to a different place to be around better people. I could have done something... anything... and she'd still be on this planet.

I was one day too late. It was all my fault.

To this day, I still can't listen to Don Henley's The Boys of Summer without choking up. That song was playing on the radio when I learned she died. The girl in the song? That's her - brown skin shining in the sun indeed. Her face will never leave me. I can close my eyes and still see her. Sometimes, at night, thinking about all this and her keeps me awake. What am I saying - it's quite often in fact. Now obviously I can't speculate that we'd have worked out. Who knows where life would have taken us? But, had I of spoken up one day sooner, perhaps a beautiful young woman would still be with us. I'll always carry this burden, as I should.

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