I hated moving more than anything on Earth. Having something vital amputated would have been preferable to packing all my stuff and lugging it to the truck and then having to unload it all again somewhere new. It had to be done though and here I was, two days away from moving across the country for the second time in my life and I couldn’t even finish packing my clothes. They were strewn haphazardly across my bedroom, spilling into the hallway where my son’s boxes were packed nice and neat. How I could have produced a child so tidy and organized I have no idea but he was all mine, from his blue eyes to his two left feet.
I gave up on the clothes and moved onto my jewelry, which should have been easy since most of it resided in a shoe box anyway. There were things in there I hadn’t looked at in years, my procrastination made me want to sort each piece right this minute though so I cleared a place on the bed and sat down. The first 100 or so things I came to in my sorting weren’t important, cheap earrings and broken necklaces that I swore I would fix some day. There were rings with stones missing and bracelets without clasps. Staring at the broken mess I decided that most of this could go in the trash, the good stuff was already packed away in my small safe. There is where you would find my grandmother’s ring and my mom’s wedding jewelry, nice stuff that I didn’t trust myself to wear.
I picked up the already full trash bag and dumped the jewelry on top. As I was closing it though something red caught my eye. It was another earring but this one I knew was pure white gold with a ruby stone dangling from it; one pure ruby, high quality and red as blood. My heart caught in my throat as I looked down at it just lying there. Everything inside of me told me to just let it be, to leave it in the trash and not dredge up old demons. I hadn’t seen that earring in ten years, had intentionally misplaced it in an attempt to escape the past.
I remembered the day he gave it to me like it was yesterday, sitting on park bench, my son playing in the sand box a few feet away. His name was Nathaniel and he was the best friend I had ever known. When my marriage fell apart he was there and when I fell apart he put me back together. I had cried on his shoulder and slept in his arms but never taken it to the next level. The day he handed me that pretty blue box with the sexy ruby earrings I knew I had a choice to make, to give him up forever or accept his offer for more. A good person wouldn’t have let this man with a heart of gold get dragged into the mess I had made of my life.
I never said I was a good person.
He helped me put the earrings on and from that day on we were together in every way a man and woman could be. I loved him without caution, for the first time in my life fully trusting someone with my heart. Nathaniel did everything he could to make me and my son Levi happy; he filled in as a father and was better to us than my ex could conceive of being. For once in my life I had found someone who could be my everything.
We lived happily for almost a year, Nathaniel moved into my two bedroom apartment with me and Levi and we stayed at his house in the country on the weekends, everything was perfect, better than I had ever dreamed it could be.
Nathaniel asked me to marry him on Halloween dressed as Prince Charming. Only the Wicked Witch could say no to Prince Charming and that was exactly who I was that night. I cried as I crushed him, telling him I could love him forever but that marriage was out of the question. Marriage ruins everything I wailed as I drove myself back to the city. My heart broke into a million pieces when I saw what I had done to Nathaniel, when I realized I had rejected the only person who had ever truly loved me without question or motive.
I called him a thousand times that night and into the next morning. Finally I could take no more, I didn’t even bother to dress, driving two hours in my pajamas. Nothing could stop me, I need to say I was sorry, wanted to tell him I was wrong. Most of all I just wanted to say yes.
I knew something was wrong as soon as I turned into the driveway. His mom’s car was there; she lived hours away and never visited unexpectedly. When I walked into the house I could hear her sobbing from the living room. The sound was gut wrenching and suddenly I knew. My legs shook as I walked into the room where his mother lay on the couch, tears forming pools in her weathered skin. She looked up as I neared her and uttered the words I had feared, the ones I knew were coming.
“He’s gone, Miranda. There was nothing they could do,” she started to wail and I only caught a few more words as the room spun around me. Drunk driver and wet road was the last thing I heard as the floor rushed up at me.
I awoke two hours later in a hospital bed, hooked up to beeping machines. My son Levi and his dad were beside the bed and when I woke up, Levi squealed and ran to hold my hand. The next few days were a blur of consoling faces and tears. I walked blindly through it all, in a fog of regret and grief.
Nathaniel looked so peaceful in his casket; all I wanted to do was crawl in there with him. I cursed God and fate for taking him from me, all the while a part of me blamed myself. He wouldn’t have been on that road at that time if I hadn’t panicked and ran away from him. My heart broke into a million pieces, the shards piercing me inside. For a moment I considered it, just letting go of this life and going to be with Nathaniel. The little boy crying beside me stopped me though, without me Levi would only have his father and that simply was not good enough for my child.
I had worn Nathaniel’s earrings to the funeral, I took one of them off and placed it beside him and with one last look I turned away.
Levi and I moved to Texas and then onto California within the next two years. I was running from the memories of Nathaniel, running from the guilt that tried to consume me. Day by day it got easier to breathe without him and one day I woke up realizing I hadn’t dreamed of him for the first time in five years.
So now here I am, crying on the bed for someone that would have loved me forever. The old guilt is gone now but in its place is a deep hole that no one will ever be able to fill. With that knowledge I finally put Nathaniel to rest. Taking that one lone earring I put it with my photo albums and decide that I am finally ready to let the past go. Nathaniel would have wanted me to move on.