The Story I Never Tell Part 4

The Story I Never Tell Part 4

I stopped off last time with the story of how I met Brett, how on our first date I received indisputable messages from God that this was the man I was supposed to marry, how that emboldened me to demand he understand the gravity of what he was embarking on when he leaned in to kiss me.

I’ve only been to the World Trade Center once, in 1992, when I lied to my parents and went to New York to visit my brand new boyfriend for Valentine’s Day. I took a box of pink cupcakes frosted in vanilla with little gel hearts on each one. I dressed in red head to toe. Red suede skirt which I still own. Red sweater, which I held onto until it finally sprouted holes. Red slingback shoes, which I kept until they no longer fit my post-pregnancy feet. I love Valentine’s Day, more than anyone in the world probably. When people say it’s a commercial holiday invented by Hallmark I always think, “So?” I love the idea of a day dedicated to grand gestures and formal declarations and pretty presents. I bought Brett a little nest in which I had put two tiny birds and three robin’s eggs. I had been dating him for two months. Poor Brett. He had clearly never given Valentine’s Day a moment’s notice and off the plane bounds this girl. Clad in red, holding cupcakes in a box and with a present wrapped with curly ribbon inside which was a whole avian tableau of metaphorical domestic bliss.

We got back to his apartment and he hit the button on his voicemail and it was full. One message after another like this: “Yo…Brett…I heard you’re in love. Call me.” His friends were shocked. Much later on his father would tell me that he never imagined Brett would ever fall in love. Brett himself told me he assumed he would go to medical school, get a great job making lots of money and then he would just marry one of the girls who came around. He didn’t have a lot of patience for women, or for love or for all the things it seemed one had to do when one was in love. Like get Valentine’s gifts. He has never loved anyone but me. I, being the kind of person who will dress all in red for Valentine’s Day and bake a dozen pink cupcakes and give a man a nest of eggs have been in love 10,000 times, but that didn’t mean anything. This was nothing like that. Because for the first time in my whole life, I was in love with someone who was worth my love and attention. I had never made such a choice before. That is part of the story, really. That I had never made a worthy decision in love until this one. And I need you to understand one more thing: I literally prayed to find Brett in October, and I found him in November. When I met him I had no idea this was the answer to those prayers, and even when my ears popped at the frozen fountain, I didn’t remember that I had prayed for him. My friend Sindu reminded me of that later on, and then I remembered. My aunt also prayed for him, and she realized fairly early that he was the answer to her prayers as well. Why were were all praying for Brett? Because I was a lost thing until I found him. When I say to you that Brett is the savior of my life, I am not exaggerating. He saved my life. So if much later on, he struggled and hurt and was lost himself and confused and even if he got mean in that struggle, understand that he is the savior of my life, and to me, Brett is in some measure, proof of God. Sometimes a person can forget that they were given grace. Anger can make you forget. I am very grateful that I didn’t blow things up when things got rough, because grace is a blessing.

Anyway, on that trip to New York, he cooked me a terrible dinner of some sort of pasta and broccoli which was difficult to eat, and then we went to Windows on the World for drinks atop the World Trade Center. Unless I am mistaken, this picture was taken in the World Trade Center. He was 24 and I was 23 and this is what it looks like when you are put on the earth to find a person and you do. When the Twin Towers blew up, Brett was in Boston. When I finally talked to him I said, “This was the place we were falling in love.”

I promise you I am not being coy in doling out the story in this way. I promise you I am telling the story this minutely so you will understand just how it happens that one might, 20 years later, be unable to even cry from the grief and shame of it all.


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