SOL Tuesday: Sudden Death

His name was Frank. He would have turned 60 in September.

Our origin story was romantic and funny; dating back to the mid ’80s. He was 6 years my senior, worldly and intellectual and handsome and he liked me.

I was smitten and caught up, thrilled to become his steady in the foreign city I had begun to think of in more intimate terms.

Of all things he was a doctoral student, suffering through the ravages of completing his dissertation. We fashioned a long distance romance for the ages. Me in DC, he in Vienna. He was becoming a social science authority, I was becoming an adult. We wrote letters – heartfelt, confessionals. We were both hotheads – passionate and stubborn. We argued but rarely broke up. In retrospect, the commitment was astounding really.

When it was time to reunite on the same continent, in the same city, in the same apartment, we no longer actually fit together. I had grown a will and ambition of my own which came as a surprise and affront to him. I was sure he was the one and then he wasn’t so I married someone else and was just as happy.

We lost track of each other and had almost no mutual acquaintances. He had a child and so did I. We ran into each other once on the street and caught each other up on our new lives in progress. That must have been almost two decades ago. I googled him a few years ago out of curiosity and was pleased to see that he had made a kind of name for himself in his field. He had garnered some recognition and made tenure. Good for him, I thought.

An off tweet from someone mentioning Heidegger prompted me to look him up again. I found his name, the uni where he taught and then the obituary. He died in late July and was buried in Vienna at the beginning of August. I was kind of stunned. I just hadn’t imagined that possibility.

The realization of his death dredges up all kinds of memories. There’s a whole history that I carry still of that 6 year relationship that I haven’t considered in ages. And just like that, the vault is cracked open. The memories bubble up and sting my eyes. I suppose it won’t be too long before I go and find that special box that holds all those letters he sent and I kept, the pictures and newspaper clippings, the published version of his diss.

It seems that life has a need to remind us that we did not begin right here, not yesterday. We hold histories within and histories hold us. The weight of a thousand ‘what ifs’ bears down on me. Not because I miss this person but because this part of my history has an end that I didn’t see coming.

I think of the children I have. My sons of other men. I was lucky to get away, to get out of that early relationship when I did. I am fortunate to have the life and all the comforts that I do. That said, this morning and certainly in the days to come, I will spend time recollecting, trying to uncover the significance of those precious days and months; the lessons learned, the moments I chose wisely.

The term “recollect” – to collect again, to gather again the disparate parts. Frank is a dead man and he remains one of my parts. Middle age seems to have a lot to do with parts and belonging I see.

 

11 thoughts on “SOL Tuesday: Sudden Death

  1. It seems that life has a need to remind us that we did not begin right here, not yesterday. We hold histories within and histories hold us.

    This is beautiful and captured so well in your reflection.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a lovely piece. It is surprising when people who have been important in our lives come back into them in any way. This recollection has me thinking about parts of our past that are brought back (in real life or virtually) int our today.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes and yes and yes. So many feelings. I love this paragraph for its beauty and its truth: “It seems that life has a need to remind us that we did not begin right here, not yesterday. We hold histories within and histories hold us. The weight of a thousand ‘what ifs’ bears down on me. Not because I miss this person but because this part of my history has an end that I didn’t see coming.” As I inch ever closer to 50, I feel this more and more. Thanks for helping me, too, recollect by sharing your own recollection.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully crafted – you had me fully engaged in every word. Yes – this time of life is humbling in many ways. You leave me thinking about the word “recollect” – powerful image. Thank you for sharing your story … and sending comfort your way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was really drawn to these two lines: “The weight of a thousand ‘what ifs’ bears down on me. Not because I miss this person but because this part of my history has an end that I didn’t see coming.” Yes, an end of history that you didn’t see coming – what a shock, really. How great that you are taking time to reflect and remember…may you identify the beautiful parts of your history that you will always treasure.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The line that caused me to pause, “We hold histories within and histories hold us.” We do. They do. I agree. What a powerful reflective line. Life has a way of reminding us, at times forcing us, to pause and reflect. Thank you for sharing your reflection with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, wow…what an interesting take on recollecting. Six years is a large part of one’s life, and it’s obvious that the time that has passed has changed your perspective on those years. Thanks for sharing your observations with us!

    Liked by 1 person

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