he didn’t think she would really do it, she’d said it a million times and never followed thru. she hated being there, here, alive, and he knew it. no matter what he did, he couldn’t make her want to be here, here on this earth. he hated her for it. he hated himself for it. he didn’t know what happened inside to make her feel so broken. he knew it had to be something. he thought that if he poured every ounce of love that he had into her, she would stay for him, she would stay because she loved him. he didn’t know that she couldn’t love. she was too broken to love.
now thirty six years later, he’s sitting in a church for the first time since her funeral. he swore he’d never come back, too angry at God. God, why didn’t You save her? why didn’t You tell her how much she was worth? why didn’t You make her stay? she would have stayed if she knew how much she meant to You. You let her down. You let me down. i hate You. on the day she died something broke in him. he didn’t want to be alive anymore, but didn’t have the heart to end his own life, and plus he felt responsible, guilty, and he decided to live every day in shame and destroy himself from the inside out because it was his fault that she died, he deserved to suffer a long life without her, without the love of his life. this is what he thought.
but yesterday, yesterday something happened- he heard a song on a classic rock station. classic rock, the thought still made him cringe, these songs were the songs of his youth, the songs of her youth. “Wendy, runaway with me, i know i sound crazy, don’t you see what you do to me, i wanna be your lost boy, your last chance, a better reality”, there was nothing classic about it in his mind, but it was her song, her anthem, but why couldn’t she remember it on that day, her last day? maybe she did remember it and that was why she couldn’t stay. she left to find Neverland. she knew she would make it into Heaven, there was no doubt in her mind about it, she never doubted her faith, but still she left. so now he sits in this church, something inside him told him he needed to meet God here. the place is familiar, yet he doesn’t know why, he’s sure he’s never been here before, he chose it at random, just walked in the first church he saw off the street.
he’s been sitting here for an hour, suddenly a door opens off to the side of the stage and pulpit, a man in a robe walks out, a priest. the man makes a beeline for him, as if he already knew he was there, the first man panics, he’s never talked to a priest before, what is he gonna say? is the priest gonna throw him out because the church is closed? it’s not time for Mass, he checked the time on the marque before he walked in, but the door was open. do churches even close?
the priest is standing in front of him now, “Tom?” he asks.
how does the priest know his name? “yes” the first man chokes out the word.
the priest sits down. “we’ve been waiting for you” Tom feels panic rising in his chest, what’s going on? what did i do that a priest is waiting for me? is he a messenger from God? of course he is, but a direct messenger?
the priest is talking again “i have something for you” pulls out an envelope, hands it to Tom. It’s a soft purple color, her favorite color, his name written in her small messy hand across the front. Tom’s heart began to flutter. he hadn’t seen his name written by her in thirty six years, on the note she left on the day she left. God, how he hated her for writing that note.
he doesn’t feel like he has the strength to open it, he turns to the priest, “how?”
“we knew her well here, she was here several times a week, she left that on the morning it happened, said you’d be here some day, she didn’t know how soon, but she knew you would be drawn here eventually, i don’t think she imagined it would be so many years.”
she left this note thirty six years ago, he was having trouble wrapping his head around it.
“i’ll leave you for now, but i’ll be in my office if you want to talk” and the priest stands and walks back towards the door he came from and Tom turns his attention back to the envelope.
how can he hate her still? how can he hate her if he still loves her, seeing his name scrawled in the perfect printing of hers, messy and perfect in the same letters, on that beautiful color that reminds him of her favorite t-shirt, the one she lived in all summer once, by Autumn it was so thin and threadbare, but she couldn’t bare to throw it out, she put it in his bottom drawer, said she’d be back for it someday, someday never came. it was just a plain purple shirt, but the way it rested against her curves, he couldn’t look away when she wore that shirt, maybe that was why she wore it. he kept it in his bottom drawer for years, he couldn’t bare to look at it without her body in it, knowing her body would never be in it again.
Tom looked at the envelope, what could she have written here that she didn’t write in the other note? did he still hate her? he couldn’t decide. he ran his finger under the sealed flap, gently broke what had been sealed for thirty six years…
(*want to read more of this tale? words 1006 thru 2008 have now been written.)