The day's first rays of sunlight made each blade of grass and dandelion weed glisten like the front display of a jewelry shop on Fifth Avenue. She stood there, riding pants perfectly tailored to fit her long, slender legs and thirty-two-inch waist, and her freshly ironed shirt, sleeveless, revealed tanned and toned shoulders that belonged only to one of the most prominent equestrians in the area. As she whispered that morning's secrets and stroked the mane of Twinkle, her thousand-pound Thoroughbred, the deafening thunder of a 1955 Harley-Davidson Hummer zoomed partially by the pasture, then came to a screeching halt.
"Hey, Sandy! Are you comin' up to the party at the Bishops' tonight?" asked helmet-doffing Peter Green, a gangly seventeen-year-old whose family owned the estate only a few doors down.
The question hung heavily in the air as Sandy's eyes couldn't help but be drawn away from Peter's eager face to examine the beautiful, silent stranger that sat on the pillion directly behind him, and who peered back at her with a parallel curiosity and intrigue.
Suddenly at a loss for words, Sandy managed to stutter, "Hey, Pete…uhm, yeah, I'm thinkin' about makin' it up there!"
"Good, I hope to see ya there then!" quipped Peter as he fiddled with the bike's key until he heard that familiar purr emerge from under him. The mysterious Marlon Brando doppelgänger gave a small smile and was off as quickly as he appeared with a slight nod of his caramel-colored head.
Sandy knew at that moment that she had to make it to that party.
Later that evening, Sandy and her mysterious new suitor, Dan, were the talk of the party as they could not peel their eyes away from each other, and, by curfew, had planned to go on their first date the following day. Still in high school, Sandy and Dan were the original power couple of high-society Upstate New York. They attended every party, dinner, ball, and fundraiser together; Dan escorted Sandy to the Snow Ball, where she was presented to society as a debutante; and they wrote every week as Dan, one year her senior, went off to college out of state.
After five years together, Dan returned home from college one summer with the news that he had become engaged to someone else, ending Sandy's dreams for a future with Dan where she stood. In the following years, both Sandy and Dan got married, had children and grandchildren, moved out of their hometowns, and went on with their lives, entirely separate from one another, leaving the possibility of what once was to the unpredictable will of life.
No, this is not a mildly altered version of Nicholas Sparks' latest, but rather the story of my grandma, Sandy, and the first love of her life, Dan. When I went through my first, real heartbreak, she sat with me and told me that she knew how it felt. The despair, the emptiness, the loss of hope that anything good would ever come again; but she never failed to remind me that if I wanted to make it to whatever better things lay ahead, I had to make it through the bad first. It's what she did, and it's what every soul that has ever been heartbroken has managed to do, one step and one day at a time.
A few years after Dan, my grandfather came along and gifted my grandma with 57 incredible years of marriage, three successful children, and five growing grandchildren—gifts she would not exchange nor replace for the world. When my grandfather passed in January of 2018, my grandma decided to become more social and reach out to old friends she had neither seen nor spoken to in years. She made a Facebook, and within a few days had friends from the past five decades and all over the world reaching out to offer their condolences and see how she was doing. One friend request stuck out more than any other, however, and sent a slight tremor through the heart and memories of my grandma: Dan's.
Now eighty years old and married for a second time, Dan and my grandma have rekindled a loving friendship in which they check on each other at least once a week, laugh, share stories, and try to catch up on the years they lost. Dan is happily married, and my grandmother happily single, but there is something that I find beautiful about this rekindling of an old flame in a new way.
Although I find it bittersweet, and love to dream about all of life's what-ifs with my grandma, I have come to realize that funny situations like these are what life is about. Nothing is ever certain, nor is anything ever final, so if you feel like you've recently lost a great love in your life or are still mourning one from long ago, whether that be in the form of a friend, family member, or partner, know that the heart never forgets or eliminates that love, it simply stores it away for safekeeping and potentially a later encounter. No matter how hopeless some times in our life may seem, in most cases, goodbye is rarely ever goodbye, it's more of an "I'll be seeing you."