It was thousands of lifetimes ago, and I only knew the story from a distance.
He was a boy from a rival school; she met him at the beach. It was a magic summer, one where she used parts of her heart that neither she nor anyone else had ever seen before. It was all new, all astounding, all the time.
She’d never been “boy crazy” like so many of her friends. She wasn’t crazy for boys — she was crazy for this boy.
This one boy.
It was days at the beach, and nights on the phone; it was little glances, and hands brushing against each other; it was movies in the dark, and miles upon miles of sunsets; it was handwritten notes, and special songs, and feeling blood go to her face in ways she never felt before. It was all that first love ever is — which is pretty much every kind of thing there is.
It was also just that one summer, because things fizzled out when school started again. There was no dramatic breakup or anything. There was another boy at school for her, and she heard, through friends, that he was doing just fine. So, gradually, the flare that burned so bright in the summer night sky faded away into the Christmas holidays and on in to the spring.
Then, he disappeared.
He literally disappeared. Front page of the local papers, missing person reports, national television, everything.
At first she didn’t – no couldn’t – believe it. He would turn up. Then the days melted away into weeks and months, and no word, no leads, no nothing.
They never found him. Not even to this day.
So what do you do when first love turns into unclosed grief?
I don’t know. I know what she did, though. She went back to the beach, once a year, every year, on the last day of summer, and said a prayer for him. Sun or rain.
She has a husband now. He understands, but then again, no one really understands.
“A person’s only really gone when we stop loving them,” she says.
She won’t stop loving.