My Facebook status last year, August 17:
So, ten years ago today, this guy took me on a date and it was the best time I’d ever had. We ate at Everett’s and went to see “Signs” and the whole time, I wanted so badly for him to just hold my hand. Today, as we sit at chemo, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna totally hold his hand.
Flashback to August 2002:
I leaned back e-v-e-r s-o s-l-o-w-l-y in the chair to peer into his cubicle. He’s still working on something at the computer, has been all day. I can see him hunt and peck on his keyboard, shuffle some papers, type a few more letters. Lots of grants to read and process.
I lean forward, back to my own Lewis & Clark research. Working with the Commission is taking up most of my time these days. I pick up a book, read, make notes, read some more. Shuffle my own pages, flip through some of yesterday’s notes.
And am completely startled when I hear him right outside my cubicle saying, “Hey, are you taking a break today?”
Oh, you bet I am. This is what I look forward to every day, talking to him. I’m pretty sure he feels the same way, but it’s hard to tell. He’s a quiet guy.
I know he likes movies, and I’ve got a plan. Cross my fingers it will work.
“I was talking to Becky the other day,” I started. “She and her boyfriend went to see Signs.”
He jumped in, just like I knew he would. “I saw that. It’s really good.”
I’m a little deflated now, because I was going to suggest that we go see it together, but if he’s already seen it, well…
“Have you seen it?” he continued. I could tell he wanted to keep talking, so I motioned him to have a seat in my visitor chair.
“No, not yet. She knows scary movies freak me out and she said I’d have to take someone with me or I’d never make it to the end.”
And then, angel trumpets sounded and a light shone down. He said the words I’d been hoping for, praying for, wishing for:
“I’ll go with you.”
I couldn’t stop the smile from spreading across my face, but I was trying to play it cool, even though my heart was pounding. I really, really liked this guy…and it kind of sounds like he likes me, too. Here was my chance to find out.
“Really? Great! I think it’s still showing around here. When do you want to go?”
Say Friday, say Saturday. Please just say a date night, not a week night…
“How about Saturday night?”
But I’m so calm as I answer, “Sounds good. Shall I meet you there?”
Say no, say you’ll pick me up…
“Uh, no,” he stammered, slightly blushing. “I’ll come get you. Maybe we can get something to eat first?”
Oh, this is so starting to sound like a real date. One more question and I’ll know.
“Sure! Where do you like to eat?” I posed the question like it made me no difference, but…
“Have you ever been to Everetts?” he asked, again kind of shy. “They have great steak.”
It amazed me that I could be so calm outside, but so giddy inside, thinking: Saturday night, picking me up, a steak dinner. That is a DATE!
“I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard it’s good,” I answered.
The relief spread across his face, which lit up with his trademark grin. The one I’d finally noticed two months ago and hadn’t been able to stop thinking about.
“Okay! I’ll find out the movie times and let you know,” he said just as his phone rang. He wandered back to his desk to answer it and I swiveled my chair around so no one could see the ridiculous smile on my face. There was something different about this guy, something so honest and friendly, so real. I wanted to know more about him.
It was the best first date I’d ever been on. I found out later he’d bought an entirely new outfit to wear that night – and that melted my heart. There was no awkwardness about seeing each other outside of work. And because he’d planned every detail so carefully, he’d already got the movie tickets, so even when we talked long over our dinner and had to rush to get to the theater, we just walked right in, no waiting in line.
He drove me home after and the miles flew by so quickly because we never stopped talking. I invited him inside for a soda and he bravely stayed until the combination of my cat and his allergies forced him to beat a hasty retreat. He reached out for a hug and it was like I’d finally found the arms that fit me perfectly. A kiss on my cheek, then he said (and I kidded him mercilessly for years about his endearing but obviously rehearsed speech):
“I had a great time, but then I’ve known for some time that I would.”
We were inseparable from that night on.
Fast-forward to August 2013.
I’m alone, with a cat I know he sent me from heaven, and I miss his arms around me and I miss his kisses on my cheek and I miss the adorable formality he sometimes adopted in his most emotional moments. I miss my husband so much and if I could say anything to him, it would be this:
“I love you so much, baby, and I miss you so much…but I’ve known for some time that I would.”