My beloved hometown lost one of its greats recently. A dear, kind man whom I knew from high school succumbed to a long struggle after a horrible stroke. Much, much too young. I feel fortunate that I caught up with him just a few months before this started. As a beloved tennis coach and community leader, his life will leave a mark for a long time to come.
But as is true in the world, there is always something good to find with the bad. His passing brought many of us together. That includes the boy-man, my Kicker, seen in this picture. Once the fits of laughter about the miles of sequins and the big 1990s hair subside, look at it a little more closely. That, dear friends, is a picture of love. Not how to love, not the meaning of love, but pure, simple, young love. Love as it should be.
The Kicker was my boyfriend for just over a year. In high school terms, we were true opposites – he was the sports jock, I was the band nerd. But, we were one heck of a couple. Despite our youthful mistakes, we had a healthy and respectful relationship. We honored each other’s individual interests, groups of friends and met in the middle. It was easy, it had no drama, it just worked – until it was time for him to leave for college. Then, logically and appropriately, we were no more. There was heartbreak, on both sides, and memories were packed up and put away safely.
I moved on with my senior year and my own exit-stage-left for college. When his parents moved a few years later, the possibility of crossing paths “back home” was done. (For those of you born around 1990 – email did not exist consistently, much less Facebook, texting, or even mobile phones. Just keeping everyone in focus here, lol.)
It took seeing him, 25+ years later, for this grown woman to even begin to recognize what that time in life and those memories meant. Sitting at a dinner table with Kicker and friends after the service led to the old ease of conversations. That evening, followed by some attentive processing and soul searching, revealed a stunning number of connections between that long ago relationship, my personal paths, and my life as it is today.
I had never revisited “us” in light of the person I have become and the way I got here. The entire experience (which is still ongoing) brought up a deep and delayed appreciation for the time I had with this person. And, of course, some tears. What an amazing find. A true, dear, old friend, one who knew me when I was on that rough roller coaster of growing up, still saw the good parts of me and even loved me. Wholeheartedly. After the happy shock of it all, we agree that we had a conversation that neither of us knew we even needed to have.
Now, for a few truths about this situation as they pertain to being a momma, because yes, it actually does.
Truth #1 – It always bears repeating that tears do not always mean sadness. Mine were beautiful and needed. We must teach our children that crying is healthy, necessary, and should never be shamed. Ever.
Truth #2 – Take the time to look back on relationships, talk about memories and pass on the lessons. Is it time to seek out someone with whom some part of life was shared? To show our children their importance in our own personal life path and development? Roommates, coaches, teachers, significant others, and yes, even first loves? They all put their mark somewhere. Life scatters us so easily and we all just follow our own dance pattern. Let us show our children how to maintain relationships despite distance, time, obligations. Placing importance on memories and lessons helps us generate more of them, both of which are a part of our life purpose.
Truth #3 – Apparently, this horribly wonderful picture is still present in his parents’ home, which speaks volumes. Please, mommas, let us teach our children to understand that the presence of memories of “someone else” should be taken as an opportunity to learn. How was that person important? Where do they fit in the significant other’s world? Honoring those who came before, in whatever capacity, is the right thing to do. This trait or habit must be taught if we want our babies to have meaningful relationships and loves. Because society’s view on any “previous” partner is primarily negative. Just look at this crazy story. I have absolutely no doubt that the “us” we had in high school fostered an enormous portion of the foundation for the relationships we each have now.
And yes, I still love my Kicker – just for very different reasons now.