About four days before Eric Wayne Deuley died, I had a strong prompting to call him. Strong might be an understatement. It was a such an overwhelming feeling, that I physically swayed and had to grab onto a table. I didn't have his number. We hadn't spoken in about 26 years. The last time we spoke I told him I loved him, but I told him I loved someone else too. He was my first real love at 18. I never really got past him or over him. I ran from him the first time, hoping he would chase me. Hoping he would change, for me. Hoping. He never chased me like I wanted him to. He turned, hurt and upset. He did the same thing the second time. I never learn.
I would ask my cousin, his step mom, about him every summer at our family reunion. For most of the summers I asked it was bad news. Drugs. Homelessness. Divorce. Poverty. I would cry after I walked away from her. A small piece of my heart breaking. The voice in my head telling me I could have saved him or changed him or helped him. But I know that is not true. We make our own choices. We live with them. Even me. (My husband knows all of this, by the way. Steve is an amazingly understanding husband.) But if I somehow contributed to his pain, that is something I struggle to live with.
Some years it was good news. He got married. He bought a house. He had children. He was clean. He was working and making decent money. He was happier than he'd been in a long time. Especially the last few years. I was happy that he was happy. I was in a good place too.
So that day I looked Eric up on Facebook and found pictures of him happy and smiling with a woman. He looked older and different than I remembered him. He had been through a lot. His poor choices had led him down roads most of us would never dream of taking. The idea of calling him and disturbing his happiness, not to mention explaining it to my husband, kept me from calling. I was a coward, I admit it.
Four days later he was hit and killed while riding a motorcycle on the highway out by Hoover Dam.
It hit me like a ton of bricks.
I have yet to get over this or even around it.
I'm still healing.
Logically, it makes no sense. I step outside of myself and think, "Why are you so upset? You haven't seen him in years. You broke things off. You let him go not once, but twice. You moved on. You are happily married." But do we ever really move on? Really? Do we ever overcome a first, true love?
My eternal optimism (inherited from both of my parents) whispered to my heart over the years that someday Eric and I would get a second chance. Okay, a third chance. We tried the second chance and that didn't work. I sincerely thought we'd get one when we were old(er) and gray(er). That we would finally be in the same place and finally want the same things. That's not going to happen in this life. And THAT'S what makes me cry.
While I love, love, love my husband (who is perfect for me in every way), a part of me never stopped loving Eric. I wish I'd called him.
I know I will see him again in the next life. In fact, I believe he and I knew each other before our lives on this earth and that we were close friends. So that gives me hope. (Eternal optimist, remember?) And that hope makes me smile, because I know he would want me to. He would nudge me and make a wisecrack and look at me like, "What are you worried about girl? Stop yer cryin'."
Miss you Eric. Until we meet again.