A selection from my file marked “Widow’s Story”:
“I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I found out that he was in the same English class as my older sister, so I gave her a note to pass to him. I fastened it with a safety pin because I didn’t want her to read it. It was decorated with doodles and stuff, like a goofy schoolgirl with a crush would send. Basically, I offered to make him a cassette tape of my parents’ PDQ Bach album because I knew he was learning some of the madrigal pieces in choir and found them very funny. He sent me a note back, or spoke to me, and we agreed that I would give him that gift the next day before he got on the bus to go to the beach with the Senior class for Sneak Day. So, early on the morning of June 8, 1978, I waited outside the school near the cul de sac where the buses would board. He came bounding up to me when he saw me, and I greeted him with a big smile, handed him the tape and wished him a good day at the beach. He smiled back with his dazzling grin, thanked me and then leaned forward and kissed me on the lips. He smiled again, turned and boarded the bus. I stood dazed on the steps for a few seconds before running off to class with a secret smirk planted on my face that must have lasted days. We talked about that first kiss a lot over the years. We celebrated that kiss forever after. At first, it was the 8th of every month that we gave each other anniversary cards and letters. Then, it was the yearly Kiss Anniversary presents of Hershey’s kisses. For 29 years we did that, sharing our chocolate mementos with children and co-workers and whoever was around on that June day to hear the story.
After the kiss came the letters. In the first one he wrote me, he said, “This is the first in a series that I will affectionately call ‘Letters to Priscilla’. In 20 years, you can toss them onto the fire and say to your husband, ‘Well, they were some good after all.’ But then again, in 20 years, maybe I’ll be your husband. Wink, wink.” He wrote that letter the night of that Senior Sneak Day. The day of our first kiss. Did he know?
The energy of that June day returned to me this morning. Lying awake beside my open window, feeling the coolness of the morning air and the promise of sunshine and heat to come, the scent of freshly-mowed grass recalled to me the old high school lawn. A certain excitement, the world about to turn in a new direction, the feeling that my real life might just be even more wonderful than my fantasies, and the realization that finally, I didn’t want to be anyone else except the person I actually am, set that energy flowing in a trickle down my face. This may be the path to acceptance after all.
Photo credit: my little brother, aged 7. I set the shot up for him on my Canon AE-1 (a gift from Jim) and asked him to do this favor for me so that I’d have a picture to take away to college. What 7 year old kid would take a photo of his big sister kissing her boyfriend? A sweet, generous one. Thanks, David. Always grateful.