We drove for the better part of two hours, looking for a Memorial Service that we never found.  I had missed the address change on a late email while making elaborate arrangements with the In-Laws to babysit the Kids. The same Kids who were not happy about the long drive early on a Saturday and let me know it.  The whole time I was withholding the reason for the elaborate arrangements, and my sadness.

I answered a million questions as my Kids grew up.  Early Years:  Yes, I liked broccoli.  Middle Years:  Yes, I loved to read and yes, I got pretty good grades in School.  Teen Years: Yes, indeed I had other Boyfriends before Daddy…when pressed for details I shared that most of the Boyfriends were short, some were hoodlums, all had blue eyes.  I never talked about my First Big Love.

The Memorial service was for that Boyfriend, my First Big Love. My Husband was with me supporting me, however awkward it would be for him to meet and grieve my previous life at the same event.  The event we never found.

When my First Big Love and I met, I thought that he was younger, he thought I was older. He had beautiful blue eyes, a great sense of humor, and a gentle nature.  We fell hard.  The age difference didn’t seem so glaring at first.  I was 18 and he was 38.

I moved into his house Sophomore year of College. We had a group of his friends for weekend trips and house parties.  My friends would come over separately to swim in the pool and drink White Zin (which he purchased since we were underage). I learned a lot about “adulting” from him: how to manage a Relationship, friend groups and College; how to cook and dine well; how to drink responsibly; how to keep house; how to dress for any occasion.

Ultimately, I had to face growing up.  He was done growing and wasn’t willing to wait for me.  I moved out, and we continued to see each other on occasion.  I met my Husband on an outing with my FBL.

Months after my Marriage, my FBL and I met up at a wedding of friends from our weekend and house party days.  I was surprisingly nervous, sweating in a snug sweater dress.

“Are you happy?” He asked.

“I absolutely am!” I responded.

Heavily pregnant, there was no mistaking that my life had a wonderful new trajectory.  He sighed deeply and I laughed as we danced awkwardly. Remaining friends, we saw other over dinner a several times a year.

There was melancholy floating around him at one of our dinners, I coaxed it out.  Salivary gland cancer.  Surgery and chemo took months.  Our dinners continued.  Sadly, the cancer returned.  The last months we kept in touch over email as his disease progressed, at the end his Sister kept me informed.

I wonder how it would have been if we had found the Service.  Years have passed, and the hollow sadness at not formally saying goodbye has morphed into peaceful acknowledgement of a past life well savored.  Perhaps our ongoing dinners were a long goodbye to some good years.

I glanced at my Forever Love, my Husband, who was by my side supporting me on this bittersweet quest.  Grateful for the life lessons learned from my first big love and realizing that this early relationship was forever part of my internal life, I made the call to go back and collect the Kids for dinner with the In-Laws.

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