The following text was written by a Boston man who met a woman on New Year’s Eve in 1972 and never saw her again. It was posted on Craigslist “Missed Connections” and it was too beautiful not to share.
Remember, all the people in our lives are there for a reason, no matter whether they stay for half an hour or half a century.
I met you that rainy day – the last day of 1972. It was also the day when I decided to kill myself.
One week earlier, at the command of Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon, I’d flown a B-52 sorties over Hanoi. I dropped forty-nine bombs. I’ve destroyed hundreds of homes, killed thousands of people. But in my superiors’ opinion, I had served my country with honor, and so they discharged me with such distinction.
In the morning of that New Year’s Eve, I woke up in a cold and lifeless apartment with a fifth of Tennessee rye and the pang of shame spreading the depression into my hollow soul. When I emptied the last bottle, I made a few steps towards the door and vowed that when I come back I would take the Smith & Wesson Model 15 from the closet and give myself the actual discharge that I deserved.
It was a long walk. I passed the Fenway and then returned back to Symphony Hall and went up to Trinity Church. After that, I roamed through the Common, I climbed the hill with its golden dome, and wandered into that fascinating labyrinth divided by Hanover Street. As soon as I reached the waterfront, the sky painted itself in charcoal color and the drizzle turned into a shower. Soon that shower became a torrential rain. While the other pedestrians quickly ran to hide under awnings or into lobbies, I marched into the rain. I probably hoped that it can wash away the dirt of guilt that had settled around my heart. It didn’t, of course, so I headed back to my apartment.
And then I saw you.
You were standing under the balcony of the Old State House, hiding from the rain. The teal ball gown you were wearing seemed elegant and ridiculous at the same time. Your beautiful brown hair was matted to the left side of your face, revealing your right shoulder – dusted with a galaxy of freckles. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.
I decided to join you under the balcony. When I looked at those big green eyes, I noticed that you’ve been crying. “Are you okay?” – I asked. “I’ve been better,” – you said. “Would you like to have a cup of coffee?” – I asked. “Only if you would join me,” – you said. Before I even smiled, you grabbed my hand and took me on a dash through Downtown Crossing.
We sat on the opposite side of that five-and-dime and talked like we’ve known each other for years. We laughed as easily as we frowned. Then you confessed that you were engaged to a man you didn’t love – some noble baker from Boston. His parents were hosting a private party to celebrate the New Year’s Eve. They’d sent you that dress, too.
As far as I am concerned, I told you so many things I didn’t tell anyone before. Of course, I didn’t mentioned Vietnam, but I could feel that you could see the war that was waging inside my soul. Anyway, I could not see any pity into your eyes – that’s one reason why I loved you.
After about an hour or so, I excused myself and went to the restroom. I can still see myself in that reflection of that mirror, wondering if I should kiss you, if I should tell you everything I’d done a week before, if I should go back to the Smith & Wesson – it was waiting for me. I finally made a decision, that even though I was not worthy of the revival given by this stranger in the teal ball gown – still it would be a real shame if I turn my back on such a sweet chance.
While I was marching back to the counter, I could feel my heart thumping in my chest like the gavel of an angry judge, and the most beautiful future – our future – sparkled in my mind. But I when came to the stools, you weren’t there. No note, no phone number. Nothing!
Our union ended as strangely as it begun. No words could describe my pain – I was completely devastated. I went back to that restaurant every single day for a year, but in vain hope – I never saw you again. As ironically as it sounds, the pain and suffering from your abandonment appeared to swallow my self-loathing, and the idea of suicide suddenly became less appealing than the idea of realizing what had happened in that restaurant. Truth be told, I never really came to an answer.
Now, I’m an old man. I told someone this story recently for the first time. “Why don’t you try to find her on Facebook?” – he suggested. “I don’t know anything about Facebook, and all I know about her is her first name and that she lived in Boston once,” – I said.
And even if some miracle helps me find your profile, how would I know if that is you? Time is cruel, isn’t it?
The same friend led me here to the Craigslist and these Missed Connections. But as I free this virtual sigh into the wishing well of the Universe, it occurs to me, after countless number of what-ifs and a whole life of lost sleep, that our connection wasn’t missed at all.
Namely, I’ve lived a good life in all these forty-two years. I’ve loved a kind and beautiful woman. I’ve managed to raise a good man. I’ve traveled the whole world and finally I was able to forgive myself. It all happened thanks to you. Without even knowing, one rainy afternoon you passed your spirit and it settled into my heart and you can’t even imagine how grateful I am!
Some days are hard, again. My wife passed away four years ago. My son too – just a year after. I cry every day. Sometimes because I feel lonely, other times I don’t even know why. Sometimes I am still able to smell the smoke over Hanoi. And then, a lot of times throughout a year, I’ll receive my gift. The sky would paint itself into a charcoal color that will hide the sun, and the rain will begin to fall. And the memories will come to life.