I’ve gotten behind in posting installments of Lessons Learned! I’ll give you a little synopsis of what’s happened so far, but feel free to start at the beginning and read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 ,5 , 6 and 7 for the complete story, especially if you’re new to my blog. 🙂
Regina loved Bobby back in high school, they had a huge fight and split up before they knew she was pregnant. When she lost the baby, she tried to get in touch with him but he never came to the hospital. They hadn’t spoken since, until they meet up in the airport on Maui, where they’re unknowingly standing up at the same wedding. They’ve talked some and Bobby insists he never knew about the baby, which has Reggie totally confused about her feelings for him. He’s always called her Gina and she always called him Bobby, but their friends (Jaime and Mike from my short story Eyes Wide Open) know them as Reggie and Rob.
I had just finished telling my story to Jamie about losing the baby and Bobby when we were seniors in high school and how Bobby insisted he never knew I was pregnant when my cellphone vibrated. I didn’t recognize the number and debated whether or not to answer. Finally I flicked my nail across the screen and said, “Hello?”
It was Bobby. “Can we get together and do something? Maybe just walk down the beach? Swim, snorkel, maybe?”
“Sure, I guess,” I say. “Are we gonna do something with Mike and Jamie?”
“Yeah, I think they want to make sure we’re okay together. You know, for the wedding.”
“Bobby, did you, uh, tell Mike the whole story?”
Silence greeted me. “I, well, it was okay, right? You don’t mind, do you?”
“No, I guess not…” I sigh. I mean, I told Jamie.
He breathes out loudly. “So maybe Mike and I will just come over where you are?”
“Sure,” I say. Might as well get past any awkwardness. “Yeah, fine, I saw you at the restaurant awhile ago anyway.”
So we walk on the beach for an hour or so and after the initial awkwardness of introducing Bobby to Jamie, we’re all fine together. Everyone decides that after having a quick lunch we’ll go swimming and snorkeling down by what they call Black Rock, which is literally that, a protrusion of black lava rock out into the ocean that we hear is a great place to snorkel. At night during dinner there’s a cliff diver at the Sheraton Hotel who climbs up Black Rock and dives into the ocean.
Jamie and Mike are walking ahead of us and off in their own little dream world, arms wrapped around each other, whispering, stopping to nuzzle and kiss. Bobby and I follow several steps behind, but it doesn’t feel awkward, not really. We have so much history that it almost feels, well, normal to be together. And yet, we’re not together at all, just two people with some painful shared memories. But the islands do that, all blue water and sparkly sand, and with a burst of the trade winds everyday problems just blow away and fairy tales start to feel real.
We spend a few hours swimming and snorkeling in the clear waters, spotting beautiful, brightly colored fish seemingly right under the surface. But when we swim over scuba divers near the ocean floor, I realize how deep the water is and look around quickly for the shoreline. Bobby is next to me in a blur asking what’s wrong. I didn’t realize he was so close behind me. I quickly shake my head that it’s nothing and start paddling for shore. People at the snorkel rental store had told us to walk into and out of the water backwards because of the flippers and though it wasn’t easy, it was more manageable. I admit I was happy to have Bobby’s arm to grab onto as we walked over the rocky shoreline to flop down on our towels. And even his hand low on my back felt — comfortable.
We had a couple of hours to relax and get ready for the rehearsal and dinner party that night. Jamie and Mike had decided to have a little intimate dinner at the hotel restaurant after a run through of their wedding vows on the beach.
I’m not sure why, but tears were stinging my eyes by the time the evening was over. The love in that room was just palpable and even though I felt a twinge of envy, I was truly happy for them. Bobby and I had easy roles — I’d hold Jamie’s flowers and he would hand over the rings when it was time. We would sign our names as witnesses. Easy peasy. I could do this. I just have to focus on the two of them and forget that I’m standing up with Bobby. If only he’d stop looking at me like I was dinner…
(to be continued…soon!)
Here’s a link to Part 6 if you missed it!
I woke up the next morning with a dull headache. Then it got even stronger as I remembered all the crap that had gone on the night before. I couldn’t believe it. Bobby was Rob and was here in Maui and I had to see him all weekend because we were in the same wedding! He had been really sweet to me and that just made it worse, because I had so much — maybe hate isn’t the right word — but all those years of feeling abandoned were there inside me and I still felt so angry when I thought about him not being there for me.
And yet –- what if he hadn’t known about the baby? What if it was just like he said and he hadn’t gotten a message from his dad and my mom hadn’t told him how to reach me when I was away at school? Oh, no, I can’t even think about this right now…
My cellphone is ringing and I see that it’s Jamie. “Hi,” I say, trying to sound more cheerful than I feel. “You didn’t call me yesterday,” she says accusingly. “I left you a bunch of messages. I thought we were going to meet for dinner last night.” “Oh, um, I didn’t feel well, James,” I mumble, which is not really a lie. I felt like I’d had the shock of my life last night, which, frankly, I had. Passing out at the airport was just the icing on the cake.
“Oh, no, are you better this morning?” she asks. “Do you feel like getting together for lunch in a little bit and checking out the resort? Mike is talking to Rob right now and we thought you two should have a chance to meet before all the wedding stuff starts.” She sounds so concerned that I start to feel guilty.
“Yeah, about that,” I sigh, “James, I really need to talk to you. Is there coffee around here somewhere?” “Well, Reg, in the kitchen right there is a coffee maker. But there’s a Starbucks downstairs in the General Store.”
“What if you give me a half hour to shower and get dressed and I’ll meet you at the Starbucks?” I say, grimacing at my swollen eyes in the mirror. “Sure,” Jamie says, sounding a little surprised. “We can sit outside on the terrace by the lobby and have coffee and talk if you want. Oh, wait, what, Mike?” She obviously covers the phone with her hand because all I hear is muffled voices and then she’s back. “Okay, I need to know what’s going on. Mike says that Rob wants to meet him at the restaurant and talk. I mean, what are the chances that the two of you both need to talk this morning?”
“Yeah, well, give me a half hour and I’ll explain it all,” I say and she reluctantly agrees. “You better be prepared to spill,” she warns, “because this is just weird.” “Sure, okay, let me get in the shower already. I’ll meet you downstairs about 10:45.”
I hang up quickly because I’m starting to get a pain in my stomach. I’m wondering what Bobby is planning to share with Mike and I try to decide if I have to tell Jamie the whole truth. She knew I’d broken up with a boyfriend right before college, but I don’t think I’d shared all the gory details with her, even after nights of too many beers and true confessions. I’d kept this buried for so long and now twice in two days I had to go over all the details again. Oh, well, catharsis for the soul, maybe…
After the quickest shower on record, I bundle my hair into a knot at the back of my head, slip on shorts and a t-shirt and head down to look for the Starbucks. God, it’s beautiful here. It’s probably 80 degrees and sunny out, maybe one or two puffy clouds in the sky. The pool is huge and blue and sparkling and surrounded by gorgeous tropical flowers growing on hedges. I cross over a koi pond while following the signs to the General Store. As I go in, I see Jamie is already there and she’s looking quizzically at me.
I hurry over and we order our coffees and rolls. I can hardly look at her because I’m so afraid I’ll burst into tears. I guess I’ve been holding these feelings in so long that everything is so close to the surface now. We go outside and find a couple of big wooden rockers to sit in and a table to put our drinks on.
“Okay,” she says, “Please tell me what it is, Reg. You look as though you could burst into tears any minute. Come on, I’m getting married tomorrow. I need you to be happy!”
I want to, too, but that just brings the tears closer to the surface. Then, just my luck, a young couple walks by with a little girl in a stroller and she waves at us. God help me, I can feel the tears coursing down my cheeks. I try to wave back and pretend everything is okay behind my sunglasses, but Jamie is looking alarmed. “Please, Reg,” she whispers, “Tell me what’s going on?”
So for the next half hour, I talk and we rock and sip our coffees while tears run down both of our faces.
~Diane D. ~ The photo is my own
I’m sorry I’m so late in posting Part 6 of Lessons Learned! I’ll give you a little synopsis of what’s happened so far, but feel free to start at the beginning and read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 for the complete story especially if you’re new to my blog. 🙂
Regina loved Bobby back in high school, they had a huge fight and split up before they knew she was pregnant. When she lost the baby, she tried to get in touch with him but he never got a message to come to the hospital. They haven’t spoke since, until they meet up in the airport on Maui, where they’re unknowingly standing up at the same wedding. He’s always called her Gina and she always called him Bobby, but their friends (Jaime and Mike from my short story Eyes Wide Open) know them as Reggie and Rob.
Bobby and I spend the rest of the evening trying to understand what had happened back in Virginia after high school. When we finally looked around and realized how dark it had gotten, he asked if I would come up to his room, just to talk. Since we were in the same building and on the same floor, I figured it would be okay. And I didn’t think we were going to get much sleep anyway, at least until we’d heard each other out.
Neither of us remembered exactly what we had argued about when we broke up, just that we were young and going away to different colleges. I think it seemed easier to have a big blow out fight and go our separate ways than try to have a long-distance relationship and maybe find out that our love wasn’t strong enough to keep us together.
Then I had the miscarriage almost before I knew I was pregnant and when Bobby didn’t come to the hospital, I had been sure it meant we never had a chance. And now I’m reeling with the news that he never even knew about the baby.
“But I called your house. I talked to your dad,” I say. “I told him it was really important. How could he not tell you?”
“I don’t know, honey, I’m really not sure what happened. He was still traveling for work a lot then and I’d left for college already, with practice every day of the week pretty much. If he called and left me a message, I didn’t get it. I know mom and dad wanted me to focus on school, too. I know they liked you, but I knew they were kinda glad we broke up then. I think they just thought we were too young to get serious.”
“We were too young,” I say ruefully. “But it didn’t seem like it back then, at least not to me.” “Me, either,” he smiles into my eyes and the years just fall away. Then he’s shaking his head thoughtfully. “God, you don’t think they didn’t tell me on purpose?” We just stare at each other and it occurs to me that maybe his mom and dad didn’t love me as much as we thought they did.
“Maybe they really didn’t like me?” I whisper, “Enough to keep you from finding out you lost a child?” I can see the pain on his face and I hope that I’m wrong. But how else could things have gotten so muddled all those years ago?
His jaw tightens as he looks at me again. I can tell he’s wondering the same thing and it looks like it’s tearing him up inside. I mean, his family had always been super close. His mom and dad and Rhia and him, then me. They had taken me in so many times as a kid. They’d shared meals with me and let me stay at their house all those nights. I thought they were my family, too. I had pretended they were…
But I guess helping me was different than thinking of me as maybe their son’s wife or the mother of their grandchild. My mom’s influence again, I thought bitterly. Nobody really wanted the town drunk’s kid as part of their family. Sure, they felt sorry for me and helped me out, fed me, gave me a place to stay sometimes. People could always feel good about a local charity project. But anything permanent? No, thanks —
I didn’t realize I’d spoken out loud till I saw the shock on Bobby’s face. “You really think that’s how my family was?” His voice is flat. “Well, now I’m not certain,” I say and I’m working to keep my voice from shaking. “It sure seems like that’s the only explanation, doesn’t it?”
“Did they even know you were pregnant?” His voice is rough with emotion and he clears his throat. “Sorry. I mean, what exactly did you tell my dad when you called?”
“I don’t remember anymore. It was years ago!” Now I’m the one getting emotional and I stop and take a breath. “Okay, wait. I started feeling awful and when I told my mom that I was spotting and having such bad cramps, she insisted that I go to Portsmouth. So we went. My mom was driving, so I called your house and your dad answered and I told him I needed you to come to the hospital. That something was wrong.” I know I didn’t say anything specific, I would have been too embarrassed to tell his dad what was going on. I’d been scared and in pain and hormonal and had just wanted Bobby. And he wasn’t there…
He reaches for my hands and holds them in his, rubbing his thumbs across my fingers. “God, Gina, I never stopped thinking about you. When I came home that first Christmas and you weren’t there, I didn’t know what to do. Your mom said she didn’t even know how to call you, that you had a different cellphone number that you wouldn’t give her.”
“But that’s not true!” I hadn’t changed numbers until years later when I moved away from home permanently. “Why would she tell you that? I had that number for years, but I didn’t want to be at home if I didn’t have to, because of my stupid ass of a stepfather. I spent a lot of holidays with Jamie’s family. She was my college roommate and I knew Mike way before they even started dating.”
“Well, what the hell?” Bobby is looking completely perplexed. “I’m guessing your mom wasn’t too crazy about me, then, huh? She just lied to my face.”
“Well, I can understand that a little bit. I mean, she took me to hospital. She saw what I was going through. She saw how scared I was. She knew I lost a baby, our baby, and you didn’t even call me back, let alone come to the hospital!” I can’t believe tears are running down my face and I swipe at them angrily.
Bobby is looking resigned. “Look, maybe we better get some sleep and talk some more tomorrow,” he says. “We’re just going round and round and not solving anything. You know I didn’t come to the hospital cause I didn’t know you were there. Come on, honey, I’ll walk you to your room. It’s late.”
I try to smile back at him as I grab my purse and sandals but inside I’m hollow. Just like that, Bobby’s in charge again and I’m dismissed for the night. Yeah, we’re tired and wrung out emotionally, but I still feel, I don’t know, broken. I know I’m being unfair, but I can’t just let go of all those years of hurt…