I should have been nicer to him. When viewed with that crystal clarity of vision that can only be attributed to hindsight, this seems so to me now. There are decisions I should have made differently and words I should have said to him. But, in truth, I know things between us could never really have ended any other way.
There was so much of his mother in him. My memories of her are the memories of warm summer nights, of sweet red wine and of surrendering my all to someone who was not me. She was all of the things I was not, at a time that I needed someone other than myself to obsess upon. Then…as swiftly and suddenly as she had claimed my heart, my mind and my soul, she was just as unexpectedly gone from my life.
I could have sought her out…begged her to come back. Yet, I knew that what we were and what we both had the potential to become were not the same things. What we were together was, and would forever be, something just a little bit less than what we MIGHT have been alone. I understand that now. I think I understood it even then. Whether I did or not has been rendered moot by time.
He came to me claiming to be mine, the fruit of that long-ago liaison. In his eyes and in his voice and in the gold of his hair, I saw a truth that I would not argue. He came to me not desiring money or privilege or even my name. He came to me with word of her passing.
The light that had lit and warmed his world had been snuffed out too quickly, too suddenly and altogether too entirely for him to believe that he could ever be whole again without it. So, he had come to me. From that one stolen summer until her final day, she took no lover, took no husband, took no comfort or solace ever again in the embrace of another man. For that reason alone, he felt he must come and learn of me…of the man who had so fully and lastingly imprinted himself upon his mother’s very soul.
Sadly, I could not give him that which he sought. The fire in my eyes, in my heart and in MY soul had cooled to the ashes of solitude and complacency long years before. I gave him a meal and a place to sleep and in the morning, sent him away still seeking comfort and solace that I no longer had it within me to provide. I should have been nicer to him but that would first have required me to have been nicer to myself. That was an indulgence I no longer desired or needed. So yes, I should have been nicer to him. But perhaps the nicest thing I ever did was to teach him that, in life, sometimes a happy ending just simply isn’t possible.