Thursday, May 4, 2017


I don't have any photos of Brenda, so here's me about that time.

It's one of those names that
reminds me I'm a heartless romantic.

I can't remember how we started
writing back and forth, sight
unseen, family of family friends,
cousin by marriage of bff's
brother, but we did. And sometimes
her sister threw a couple lines
and lipstick lips on there, too.

I was 15 and pretty stupid,
she was 18 and pretty, but
when she came to visit for
that summer we had what
I think was both our first
of summer romances, and
I think maybe her only.

Those coming-of-age films
show adult-becoming youth
learning what love is together
and then parting to go on with
their lives completely different
from who they were, and wiser.
They're very loosely based on what
really happens in summer romances,
except the pain only lasts for about
ninety minutes and has a resolution.

Brenda lived up the hill with her
sister and brother-in-law, where his
brother, my constant friend Andy,
and I used to go play Atari after I
got off work in the afternoons.
We mostly talked, rarely alone, except
for occasional evening walks, and
frequently at church rather than home.
The big date, as it were, was a trip
to the New York State Fair, as a close
to the summer and the summer romance.

I wanted her to stay, but everybody was
moving, and moving on; not drifting apart,
but headed toward different points, like
balls that collide and bounce in radii.
I cried that night. I remember it because I
can count those nights on my hand, and I
cried right there in front of her. She left.

I'm a lousy long-distance lover. Not
because absence makes the heart go
wander, but because I'm just lazy. Our
letters, like our romance, slowed, and
as they did, her cell growth increased.

I found out less than two years later she
had died, a cancer that took less time
than our summer together to kill her.
I didn't cry.
I had gotten used to not feeling about
her, and so I couldn't. I felt bad about
not feeling bad, a feeling I have often,
sometimes still about Brenda.

Did I love her? Probably
more now than I did then.
I have a better concept of where
she is now that she's not here than
I did when she just wasn't where I was,
and I have more expectation of
seeing her again, more hope
of forgiveness than I deserve.

If I had learned the lessons of that
summer romance that same summer,
maybe we'd have had a couple of summers
before we went our ways, you getting to
God before me. If you remember me
as I remember you, let's pray for each
other until the ultimate summer romance
ends in a marriage supper- I'll see you there.

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