July 27, 2008

Banana Mondays: A Tale of Three Heartbreaks

Today's writing prompt is about heartbreak. It took me a long time to decide what to write about. Heartbreak comes in many shapes and sizes, and at many different times in life. It can come from so many places, and happen to anyone at any moment. When I think of my biggest heartbreak, it's not hard to decide.

When I was 17, I met a boy named Sam. We had classes together at the community college. He was younger than I was, and incredibly smart. He was a paleontologist at 16, with published papers and speaking engagements. He was adorable. He had this round face, and these eyes full of hope. He was tall and made me feel safe and smelled good. We became friends. I had a boyfriend, but I developed a crush. I knew he liked me too, he told me flat out that he would be good to me if we were together.

We ended up dating. He was sweet to me. He took me to the movies, we sat next to each other in class. He was adorable, he was kind, he was caring. He was everything I should have wanted, but once I had him it wasn't the same. I wanted to be with him, I really did. But I didn't FEEL it. We broke up, remained friends, got back together. Five months after we'd met, I knew it wasn't right.

I met Sam in the library. I told him that I couldn't see him anymore, that there were a lot of reasons, and I could tell him if he wanted to hear it, but that it wasn't working for me. He was young, and he got attached fast. He was incredibly smart, so he didn't fit in with kids his age, nor did he fit in with the adults who were his intellectual equals. He told me a story about waking up in his car at his house after being at a party and not remembering how he'd gotten there, and that bothered me. The level of his attachment to me in such a short amount of time made me uneasy. I thought we could still be friends.

For weeks, we ran into each other on campus, we sent e-mails back and forth. He still liked me, and I felt that power. I probably led him on in some ways. I was a silly teenage girl, and I hadn't had that kind of power many times in my life, where someone would do what I wanted them to do. But it didn't last. The day came when he confronted me with this: "You keep saying you want to be my friend, well, then why don't you act like it?'

We were heartbroken together. I'd broken his heart, and hadn't even left it at that. I'd forcefully remained in his life, stepping on him with every offhanded remark, grinding him into the ground, thinking only about myself and the way it made me feel that someone had wanted me that badly.

Then suddenly, my heart was broken too. I realized that I was being a bad person, and an even worse friend. He was right. That one sentence impacted my entire life from that point forward. For the first time in life I was forced to truly look at me behavior and make a conscious choice about how I was going to live, how I was going to treat people, from that point forward. I was horrified at the way I'd behaved. I got in the car, and I drove to campus, even though I didn't have class that day. I knew where he'd be, and I found him on a bench, in a hallway outside his next class. I sat down next to him, and I didn't realize that I was shaking until he pointed it out to me. I looked down and saw that my hand was trembling, I was so nervous and upset.

I told Sam that day that I'd driven there to see him, that I'd gotten his e-mail, that he was right and that I was sorry. I told him I understood if he didn't want to be friends, in fact, if he never wanted to talk again. He said "I'll get back to you on that". And we didn't talk again.

This could be where the story ends, but if you read the title, you'll notice that there's another heartbreak here, after all, we've only seen two so far.

About a year and a half later, I was checking my e-mail and there it was, out of the blue. I saw his name in my e-mail inbox and my heart skipped a beat. His e-mail started out "I said I'd get back to you, I didn't say when". He was attending college in Seattle, about an hour and a half south, and was going to be coming home for the summer. He seemed happy. He told me about the girl he was dating, he told me about school, and I was overjoyed. We talked on the phone for hours. I was so glad to have him back, truly as a friend this time. I loved him as a friend, but also as an influence in my life. We made plans to meet that Friday at my favorite coffee shop. I waited there for him for over an hour, he didn't show up. I was confused and upset, and got home to an e-mail from him saying that his car had broken down. It was Labor Day weekend 1999.

On Monday, September 7, 1999 I woke up to an ordinary day. My best friend, Sati, had spent the night and we were getting ready to go. I had to drive her home and drop my younger sister off at school. Before we left, I decided to check my e-mail, and that is when I felt the third, the biggest, the worst heartbreak. It was a simple message from my friend Xotchil... 'do you remember that really smart kid Sam'... 'my grandparents live next door to his parents'... 'he killed himself this weekend'. I was 18.

I still think about him all the time. My son is named not only after his great (x6) grandfather, Samuel Denn, but also after my friend Samuel Girouard, who left this world before his time. I contacted his parents that day, and have maintained a friendly relationship with his mother. We exchange Christmas Cards and sometimes e-mails. I went and had tea with her. When I had Sam, she sent me a beautiful baby blanket. Long later, I found out that they think Sam may have had Asperger's Syndrome. It explains a lot about the way he acted in social situations and the way he made attachments. One of the triggers for his suicide was that his live-in-girlfriend had broken up with him. By mailing all of his stuff to him in a box. I don't know where he got the gun.

Terrible things happen to people all the time, and we move on. But still, there is always a little part of my heart that is broken and can't be fixed with Sam's name on it. It's part of what makes me who I am.

To read more stories of heartbreak from Absolutely Bananas and others, click here.


Domestic Spaz said...

That is truly heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that is just so horrible and sad.

Ry said...

Wow. This story is incredible, truly. Well written, well told and truly heartbreaking. I'm glad you were able to help his memory live on through your son. Beautiful.

Roger said...

That was truly heartbreaking and thank you for sharing it.

emma hughes said...

What a heartbreaking story... so well written... it brought tears to my eyes... how lovely you named your son after him.

Honey Mommy said...

That is SO sad.

I too had a friend that committed suicide. He went to a Sadie Hawkins dance with me when we were in high school. Years later I was shocked when I found out that he killed himself. I will always wonder if there was something I could have done.

Justagirl said...

Wow! This was an amazing story and thank you for sharing something so personal. I'm sorry for your loss at such a young age.