Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's my blog and I can be melancholy if I want to

Do you ever....Look forward to something and dread it at the same time? I am at that point right at this very moment.

I graduated in 1984 and today we are having a reunion. That was 27 years ago, a bit odd of a benchmark for a reunion but hey, that was always us. We didn't even want to have a graduation ceremony and agreed to go through with it if they didn't make us have a speaker. We were a bunch of 18 year old kids who were more interested in going on our senior trip to California. That was a pretty big deal back in those days, some of us had never been out of the state of Oklahoma. Heck there might have been one or two that hadn't been much further than the big cities of Oklahoma City or Tulsa.

It's not that I mind seeing my classmates, I am looking forward to that. It's not that I was an unpopular kid and have terrible memories of high school. Just the opposite actually. High school years were awesome for me! What I am dreading is not seeing the one classmate that meant the most to me. Gary Keith. I still remember the first time I saw him. It was my first day at a new school at the beginning of my 7th grade year. I was so nervous about it and the school was so tiny that the whole 7th grade was in one classroom, I think there might have been about 25 students. I was sitting at my desk with my head down wishing so hard that I could go back to my old school when I heard a voice say "Hey, what's your name". I looked up and there was this red headed freckle faced kid smiling at me with dimpled cheeks, I swear I thought I had suddenly been transported to Mayberry USA and Opie was talkin to me! I looked at him and said "Shirley" and he said "Welcome to Strother, I'm Gary Keith". I was so grateful for that break in the ice and even more grateful that years later I was able to tell him how much that meant to me.

Gary become a dear friend during the rest of our school days. But then again when there are only 200 students in the entire student body of a school most everyone becomes close friends. Anyway, things changed between us our Senior year and we suddenly realized that we cared a little more for each other but being young kids we never really knew how to express it. We dated off and on our senior year and the two years I was in junior college. I left for an out of town college in the fall of 1986. I would see him when I came home for weekend visits...but then my visits got less and less frequent. Next thing I knew he was married and had a baby on the way. I would run into him occasionally over the years, always glad to see him but always knowing things were over between us.

We reunited again in October of 1998, he was getting a divorce and I had just called off a wedding, that was about 14 years after our graduation. My mother was actually the one that suggested to Gary that he call me and we go out and do something. For the next 5 years we were together off and on, more off than on, but my love never faded. We had talked about how we both thought back when I left for college that I would go off and finish college and once done I would come back and we would be together. It just didn't work that way. We talked seriously of marriage but there was one thing that always stood in the way. I always told him "I refuse to come second to a bottle of beer and a game of pool". While I loved that man dearly, I loved myself and my daughter more and couldn't fully commit to someone who couldn't stop drinking, the whole "been there done that" type thing. If it had been just me I probably would have accepted it, but for the sake of my daughter....well I just couldn't. I wasn't going to let her grow up in a home where there was just too much tension and dysfunction *okie figures her daughter got enough dysfunction by having okie as a mom*.

It came to a point where I knew I had to call it quits for good. I couldn't allow myself to hold on to a busted dream that would never happen. Then the letter came...I swear it was probably as close as a love letter than man ever wrote. I still have that letter. My emotions were torn and I took some time, well okay a few weeks, to think things over before contacting him. I called him and he sounded pretty chipper. Then came the punch to my gut. He told me he was getting married. I was hurt, furious, relieved and so many more other emotions all at once. Had he not just written me 6 weeks prior to tell me I was the love of his life and he always loved me and wanted us to be together? But here he was suddenly telling me he was getting married!

I didn't talk to him again after that, but in my heart I hoped he had finally found the happiness he was seeking. I had convinced myself he had found happiness and everything was roses.

Over the years I would dream of him, that he came back to me and things were better with him. All those dreams were shattered early on a Sunday morning, November 5th 2006 to be exact. I got a call from another classmate, my dear friend Heath. He called to tell me that Gary had died due to injuries from a car accident. My heart sank. I won't go into the details of everything but I will just say that Gary was evidently not living the fairy tale I had hoped for him.

I debated about not going to the funeral but with my Aunt Betty at my side I was able to make it there. I had told myself I would be okay. And I thought I would be until we walked in the church and sat down. I couldn't stop crying...sobbing actually. There laid the one man who would always have my heart. Sure I have loved other men in my life but nothing like the love I had, or should I say have, for Gary. When it was time to walk through and view his body I looked down at him, he looked as if he almost had a little smile on his face and years of memories and emotions rushed through my head. I felt my knees start to buckle and I had to quickly get out of there. Once in the hallway I looked at my Aunt Betty and told her "I am going to pass out". She swiftly grabbed my elbow and lead me to a chair that was in the hallway. I was able to pull myself together and we left for the cemetery. After the grave side service was over and everyone was mingling around I saw his wife standing next to the casket. I wondered for a moment if I should go say something to her and decided to go and offer my condolences. I told her "I know there is nothing I can do or say to help with the pain you are feeling right now but I do understand". She looked at me and smiled and said "You know he always loved you". I was stunned, floored, know the type that makes you feel all the air escapes your lungs swiftly and you wonder if you will be able to breath again. I stood there not knowing what to say to this woman who had just lost her husband, a man we both loved. I just looked at her and said "I never stopped loving him". We hugged each other with an understanding that only two women who loved the same man could ever have.

Over the last 5 years since Gary's death I have avoided trying to be anywhere or see people who would bring back the painful loss. Yeah I know the steps of grief and how resolving is essential in order to move on, I am a therapist for goodness sakes. I have been able to get past many deaths in my life. I have been able to overcome some very painful childhood experiences. But the whole situation with Gary is different, and always will be. I still dream of him occasionally. The same haunting dream where he appears and I tell him "you came back to me". I will admit that the pain has lessened over the years and I don't wake up and cry anymore, but there is still a degree of heartache that occurs.

Today I will be hit full force with memories of Gary as I know he will be the topic of many conversations as we all go down memory lane. I don't know what to expect or how my emotional state will be and I told my friend Heath just this morning "you know I am dreading this". Heath is likely the only person from our class that understands the full extent of my dread. But I have to go. I promised Heath I would be there, even told him I would be there a little early to help with some pictures.

Maybe typing all of this out will help me. Once this posts it will be out there for anyone to read and know how I feel. Maybe that is what I need, to just get it all off my chest. It's time for me to take a deep breath and exhale slowly and let it go. Let go of the pain, heartache and loss and realize it doesn't mean I am letting go of Gary. I know I will always have my memories of Gary and will always feel love for that man. I feel blessed to know that he did always love me. Even though he is no longer of this earth I will always treasure knowing that Gary was my first love and the love of my life.

Sorry for such a long boring post today and an unusual downer post at that. I just figured I need to get some of this stuff out so I can carry on today and make it through. Heck maybe no one will take the time to read this sucker today and after returning home this evening  I can log back in and delete it, no one ever knowing that even I have my melancholy days.


  1. oh okie my lovely, you can be as meloncholy as you like hun.
    This must be so hard for you and you are so brave to go.
    Sending you mine and little mo's biggest sqooshiest hugs and snuggles to keep you going and if you do delete this post hun, know our love is still with you.
    huge hugs Lou xxxx

  2. Best of luck at your reunion.. I hope that once there you enjoy. I went to my first reunion since my divorce 2 weeks ago.. Never wanted to go because my ex was there and I didn't want to answer all the questions about what happened to my 20 year marriage. ( He left for a 12 year younger woman that didn't work out for him) I went, I had fun, I connected with people and ran into people who didn't know I was divorced for 12 years but it was okay. I answered their questions and wasn't embarrassed any longer.

  3. It's not boring, it's sad. Parts of it hit a little too close to home. Good luck tonight, I hope it's ok.

  4. Okie, I am so sorry that you are feeling this sadness today!!
    Love doesn't go away just because it has been a long time.
    It sounds to me that you truly loved this guy.
    It is funny how we are handed things sometimes to deal with.
    I hope you have/get some kind of comfort today from talking about him.
    I know when I talk about my sweetie it gives me comfort even when it makes me cry. But nobody wants me to talk about him.
    I truly hope you have a wonderful time tonight.
    Andrea Asher

  5. My mother once told me that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all...

    At the time I thought she was crazy - but she was right. When I look back at the people I've loved and lost (the guy that crushed my heart, a family member, even my sweet dog) I wouldn't trade anything for all of it. The things they each taught me, the way each experience made me who and what I am today. The good memories I choose to remember and I leave the bad ones I turn over to God...

    Take care...

  6. Oh Shirley, I'll be thinking of you tonight ... I'm glad you're going ... I hope it brings you peace and I wish I was there to hold your hand!

    Jo Schlanker

  7. That was beautiful! Don't you dare delete it. I hope you have a wonderful time at your class reunion, and enjoy reliving lots of memories with your old classmates.

  8. Okie, I wish I could say it will get better, but I've never been thru this so I don't know. But I do know there are many of us out here that are sending you {{{{HUGS}}}} today.
    Dana- papermemories4u

  9. Oh Okie...please don't delete this!!! It's sad and beautiful all at the same time. You had me in tears, dear lady! This post is a great reminder to us all to take the time to say I Love You to those that mean the most to us....even to those we can't be close to for one reason or another. Your reasons for not being with Gary was the right choice at that time in your life...never regret that. Rejoice in the love you shared, and the memories you created together. Go to that reunion with your good humor, laugh, cry or scream at the stories everyone shares. Releasing this heaviness from your heart and shoulders will help you get through your loss. You will be fine, and a strength that maybe someone else needs!
    Big-O-Hugs to you Okie! Thanks for sharing your very private feelings with us! Even though we haven't ever met, we all care! Ü
    Kathy (aka Kwilt)

  10. You know, Okie, this is a lovely story, and although it is bittersweet, it isn't a downer at all. It's a wonderful tribute to a man you loved, and still do have deep feelings for. I'm blessed that you have shared this part of you with all of us who read your blog. I hold out a wish that you will go to the reunion and have a good time, and because you have written this perhaps be a little more lighthearted when you hear his name. Hugs to you,
    Scrapspirit (Sue)

  11. Okie, I read this and just cried! I too have a love from school; I fell in love with him in 5th grade and for 9 years I had a love/hate relationship with him. Never once did we date, he was too popular and I was one of the loser crowd. But we did manage to stay friends, even though he broke my heart many times with all of his girlfriends and wives.
    We lost touch for 20 years and then suddenly, I saw him last November. No longer was he the dashing, handsome boy I loved; he was a fat ugly toad!!! He did not see me, thank goodness! But to see him hurt, even though I am married to a wonderful man, I remembered the boy I once loved. He contacted me on Facebook, and we are friends, though we really never talk. I saw him again at a reunion in September, but once again, we did not talk, and we both lied, saying we didn't recognize each other when we discussed the reunion on Facebook. I know how you feel, and it was not a downer post Okie! I thank you for it! I think quite a few of us have gone through something like you have, so you are not alone! I know now that he would never have been good for me, but still, there is a 14 year old girl inside of me that misses what never could be.
    I am glad you told us, and got it off your chest. I hope it helped, and I hope you had fun at your reunion! (and I am sorry this is so long!!!!)

  12. Okie, quite honestly I don't know what to say after reading this. I am in tears after reading this post. Go and enjoy yourself and think of the good times you both shared.

  13. Thank you for sharing, such personal pain! I will send you a big HUG!!

  14. You are in my prayers. I wish I could hug you. Hang in there.

  15. I smile for the love you know
    I rejoice for the memories you carry
    I grieve for the loss you have
    I cry because you have shared it with me.

    Thank you,

  16. I read it, Okie. What a touching story. I hope all the emotions you experienced tonight at your reunion helped your heart--Pat N.

  17. I think everyone has the "what if" scenario with a past love and if they deny it, they're lying. :) But you'll always have your memories and they're worth their weight in gold. Thank you for sharing not only your wonderful projects, but your heart as well. Sending you a virtual hug! Lara

  18. I am hoping that your evening brought you happiness while you were going down memory lane. I'm sure that he is watching over you. It wasn't a boring post at all. In fact, it was quite heartfelt and beautiful:) Thank you for sharing.

  19. Okie, I read it and I wish you peace and love. You were both so lucky to have had each other and the memories. Thank you for sharing. Hugs from me in Oregon.

  20. ...still thinking about you Okie! Hope your night went well and you have a restful sleep...
    Hugs! Kathy Ü

  21. Wonderful post. I hope the evening helped you move along in the cycle of grief and you were able to find comfort in spending time with others who knew him.

  22. Such lovely thoughts you've shared. I hope your reunion has brought you good memories and has made more.

  23. I agree with most of the comments. Move on and remember the good times. Memories are some of the best things we have and cherish those. Hope you have fun at your reunion. Thanks for haring your story. It was very heartfelt and touching.

  24. Okie, I hope you had a wonderful evening. And I do hope your memories become less painful. I am glad you were able to share with us.

  25. Don't you dare EVER delete this Okie! This is the most moving tribute I think I have ever read.You put into words the dread we all face at difficult times when we are both scare, excited and nervous at the same time. I sincerely hope that by getting this off your chest you feel somewhat of a relief. Love you, Mary M

  26. Good luck at your will be fine. I am honored that you were willing to put this out there and get it off your chest. I'm sure you probably felt totally drained and at the same time relieved after doing so. Sometimes that is what we need to do, although we dread it, it feels better after we do so. Do I sound like a therapist? Ha ha! I've been through a lot of stuff as well and although it is so very difficult, it is always better. Good luck!

  27. Thank you for sharing this very private piece of you with us Shirley. And believe me, I understand your feelings ... I have a "Gary" in my past too.

    Enjoy your Class Reunion, and may it be filled with lots of found memories of that special time of your life.

    Big ole HUGZ to you GF!

  28. Okie I am crying, this is something you would see in a movie, it is so sad. Like you say I don't know what to say to make you feel better, but I do pray God will help you feel better, he will help your heart from hurting. God Bless you and hope you had a good time at your Reunion.
    mhalford6 @aol. com

  29. This is an amazing story. Thankyou for opening your heart. I hope the reunion brought some peace and hopefully some fun too.

  30. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful, personal story with us. Sending big hugs and hope your reunion went well.

  31. It must have been so hard for you to share this with all of us. I do hope it helps. Think of the love you shared over all the years not what could have been.
    You will have an angel with you tonight named Gary and his love will help you .
    thank you for sharing. I would love it if you could let us know how it goes.

  32. Thanks so much for sharing this story. It's definitely a reminder that we need to Live In The Moment for tomorrow is promised to no one. Sweet Blessings & Smooches... Felicia

  33. It's your blog Okie- I love how transparent and honest you are. I bet this post helps other people who are having tough emotions, to see that you can face them and come out the other side OK. I hope that it is a sweet, wonderful reunion, and that you are able to deal with whatever comes your way.

  34. This way not a downer. It was from you loving heart and that is always a wonderful post.
    Hugs to you Okie. You are a spirit that really lives and loves her journey here on earth.

  35. It took a lot of guts to write all of this AND put it out there for all to see. It definitely was not boring. I hope it made you feel a little better. Hugs to you!

  36. Loved this post, don't you dare delete it!!!!
    This was a beautiful love story, thanks so much for sharing it with all of us. Hugs!!!!

  37. Thanks for sharing - I love stories like this. P.S. you made me cry at work ----hate when that happens.


  38. You write so well! I am hoping that since a few days have passed that you might be feeling better. It really is a sad story. I never quit loving my first husband. He didn't want to be faithful and he divorced me because I would not file. It's been nearly 30 years and just recently he and my mother became friends on FB. That bothers me a little. I have a really good husband, but every now and then I have to think about "what if." Big Hugs to you!