“You know what happened is not actually your fault, right?” said Beth, my therapist, with eyebrows raised.
I couldn’t meet her eyes, instead I stared out of the window at spring’s new leaves dancing along their sturdy branches.
“Fine. Have a nice life!” These were his last words before slamming the phone down.
My boyfriend’s angry red outburst was in stark contrast to the muted gray skies of late November. It was Thanksgiving and gratitude was farthest from my mind. I waited by the phone for him to call back. I’m sure he was doing the same, but I was not going to give in. I was stubborn like that.
The sun rose and set on three days of silence. It was the longest we’d ever gone without talking to each other in the 10 years I knew him.
Every Monday he’d drive to campus and meet me after my last class, often coordinated by pay phones and answering machines. I was sure he’d turn up, cooled off and ready to spend time together. He was never one to hold a grudge for very long.
Once, I found him standing outside my Psych 101 class in a gorilla suit wearing a T-Shirt that said “I’m Sorry. I’m a Schmuck” with an arrow pointing to his face. God, I loved that goofy guy.
Even though I walked past the familiar bank of payphones at least 10 times going to and from classes, I wasn’t about to call him. I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that I wanted to be with him. I was stubborn like that.
At the end of the day, I walked slowly to my car. I looked longingly around every corner, holding tightly to the hope that he would pop out with a smile and a hug.
He never did.
That morning, he and his father went on their yearly boat trip to a woodsy area where mistletoe grew high in the treetops. They’d blast the festive parasite from the canopy with a shotgun to sell for a little extra Christmas Cash.
He might have skipped the trip with his father if I would have made that call. A tiny dime and a sliver of lost pride would have been a small price for me to pay to keep them from drowning in the icy waters.
“But, it is my fault.” I said out loud for the first time in twenty-five years. “I feel so guilty for being stubborn like that.”
Without a word, Beth sat with me as I wept, staring out at the leaves now completely still.