An old flame wrote to me recently. He was about to marry another woman. As I read his words, I formed the impression he was indirectly seeking my permission to move on to the Land of Happily Ever After.
I was floored. I remembered him fondly. But until his letter I hadn’t really felt the extent of his love; at least, not as I felt as I read his letter. We’d shared a childhood relationship that hadn’t gone anywhere past the usual school-days love notes. He was a few years older than me, and one of our school’s most popular boys. I loved his way with words, albeit still then juvenile. But it wasn’t long before I moved on to less boring prospects.
In his letter to me ten years later he recalled I’d looked him in the eye and told him I just didn’t feel about him as he evidently felt about me, that he should move on. For the first time I found myself putting myself in his position, trying to feel as he may have so many years earlier. And I felt a need to apologize for being so thoughtless.
Quite unnecessarily, he let me know he harbored no ill feelings toward me, despite my dismissive dagger-edged reaction back in the day. He said the pain he felt at the time had taught him an important unforgettable lesson: he was owed nothing, and should expect nothing from anyone.
Still, he shared with me that he’d asked himself a number of times the question of: What if? Now that he was about to commit his life to another woman, he needed to sever whatever chained us together. I was dumbfounded by his final words, that while he’d found himself a soul mate, he needed to thank me for teaching him about true love.
“Only when I decided to move on,” he wrote, “did I decide I really could love again!”
His letter left me in tears, but as I read his closing lines sealed with love, I realized they were not tears of sadness. I was happy he’d found someone to share his life with, and even more so for the way we’d briefly crossed paths, impacting each other’s lives in ways more profound than I will ever be able to say.
Maybe we’ve all experienced this in one way or another, whether in the form of loving someone deeply with little or no reciprocation, or having someone devoted to you in just the same way, at a time when you’re not in a place to reciprocate. The most important thing I’ve learnt thus far about love is that it is never wasted, and that even the moments in which we feel unloved, or unable to love, are there to teach us valuable lessons on how to best align our hearts in preparation for what is to come.