Or not

Driving to school today, listening to NPR,  I was jolted by the name of one of the commentator’s whose first name was the same name as the man I almost married about 40 years ago. I surprised myself at this intimate and chance connection that surfaced in my brain. I recently heard that this ex-boyfriend had died two and half months ago.

I broke up with him three weeks after my father’s early death. At the time neither of us consciously knew or connected this break up with his death at all. Well, maybe I did, but I don’t remember my father’s name being brought up in the fiery, awkward, uncomfortable, and final discussion. Looking back at it now, it all seems so clear and obvious. I was deeply connected with my father. It was almost as if his death heralded to me that there could be so much more in the world, that clearly life was too short, that settling into this relationship with the near certainty of marriage was not where I wanted to be. I wanted to be free. I wanted to be independent. I wanted to explore the world and be adventurous. I wanted to make sure I had all the opportunities that I wasn’t sure my father had enjoyed. I might not have turned that corner had my father not died.

The two of us broke up just before New Year’s. The cliched significance of the date was lost on both of us. Infuriated, he sent me back all the letters that I had written him from college. I never looked at them and tossed them in the trash.

But today, just now, riding to work before the sunrise— with a pile of papers, briefcase, and lunch spilling off the backseat onto the floor— today, at this very second, drinking the last of my black coffee that my husband brewed for me and looking at myself in the rearview mirror, I just wonder what my life would have been like, had I walked down the road with him instead of the others with whom I have gratefully shared my life.

Possibilities and opportunities in one form or another. The flat tire, yesterday’s decision to walk instead of drive, sleeping through the alarm, the train he missed, the call she answered, a surprising and unexpected death— random occurrences with sometimes sacred consequences. Or not.

This entry was posted in death, family, growing up and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Or not

  1. This is pretty heavy stuff. How can you drive and think like this? Also some things I never knew about you. Are there more :•)

  2. I love your process. I love how open you are to the subtle. I love that you are willing to consider all the ways your beautiful life has evolved because of the conscious and unconscious decisions you have made along the way. What a wonderful life you have created. I have a very similar story…almost exact really, from 1984. My Dad died in January. Break up in May. Departure in August. New boyfriend exactly 9 months later to the day of Dad’s passing. One death leads to another birth. Sweet dreams to you, S

  3. It’s the road not taken. I think we all wonder what would have happened if we had chosen a different route and just what it was that tipped the scales in a different direction. Thanks for an excellent post causing us all to think once more about why we are where we are.

  4. Jerome Bloom says:







  5. I’ve often thought of these moments of choice, change, decision, either taken purposefully or made almost accidentally. It is almost impossible not to consider how our lives might be wildly different had we taken a turn at a critical moment. Maybe, though, as you say, we’d still be right here, who we are, where we are. Times like this make me actually want reincarnation with consciousness.

    • jyourist says:

      Ha, I love that idea, “reincarnation with consciousness.” But maybe at the end of our lives, just before we kick the bucket, a few moments of clarity and enlightenment.

  6. ClaireMcA says:

    That’s what fiction allows. You can take any other door and follow it where you will and create any world. The sleeping depths of the subconcious prompted awake by a voice on a radio sending name signals. Love it.

    Although some characters cease to be involved in our lives, a part of them and of us is still there somewhere down in the deep and it is always fascinating when they are reawkened, often through dreams; rich pickings for writing indeed.

  7. Jerome Bloom says:

















  8. Annie says:

    This morning as I read this…I am in that car with you…reflecting back on that time…that love. Sometimes it is wild to think about the path that you could have taken. The journey which might have detoured you in a completely new direction. I love how you touch upon drinking the coffee your husband made for you. The reader instantly knows that you appreciate what you have…this is just a moment of pause. I love this.

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