8 Years too Late by Nadia
When you get older you tend to think about childhood. The time of innocence and freedom. When things weren’t so stressful and you didn’t have to think about money and bills. Happier times. The fondest memory I have of my childhood was when I fell in love. Well, I was only 7 years old but back then I thought it was love. His name was Nathan.
Nathan had the most beautiful eyes, one brown and one green, he didn’t like them, but I loved them. He had curly brown hair, I was always jealous of his hair cause it was softer than mine. His skin was like caramel, and he had the widest brightest, smile I had ever seen. And he gave the best hugs in the world. Oh, how I wish I could hug him one more time.
Nathan and I grew up together, he moved in across the street from my house when we were 5 years old and we went to school together. The first time we actually talked was when my mother had to go to the hospital and his mother had to watch me. My father had gotten into a car accident but she didn’t want me to see him. I sat in his living room and cried holding my teddy bear.
“Are you okay,” I heard someone say to me. It was Nathan - standing in the doorway of the living room.
“My mommy had to go to the hospital to get my daddy, but I’m scared,” I said wiping tears and snot from my face.
To my surprise, he walked over to me and gave me a hug. It was the warmest hug I have ever received. Ad surprisingly, it actually made me feel better.
“Why are you hugging me?,” I asked “you don’t even know who I am”
“I don’t want you to cry, you’re too pretty to cry.”
He was the first person to call me pretty. It warmed my heart and those words stayed in my mind forever. Sometimes now I think back to those words and they give me hope that I will be able to find a friend someone as sweet as him at some point in my life.
After that day we spent more time together, we sat together in school, we went over each other’s houses, and we were there for one another if either of us ever needed anything.
Over the years, as we got older, I realized I liked him, but I never told him.
I thought he had the same feelings for me too, but I stayed silent about all of it because I didn’t want to mess up the friendship that we already had. I think I will always regret not telling him. Because I didn’t know that I would never get the chance to tell him.
When we were 16 years old, Nathan told me that he was moving away. Just hearing those words broke my heart. And he wasn’t just moving to another town, he was moving to a whole other state. That was the first time I understood what heart break felt like. I had never even been interested in another boy because I always knew how I felt about Nathan
But all that was over. I felt like I literally heard my heartbreak when he told me he was moving. I just stood there, hearing those words over and over again, in my head trying to process what he was saying.
“Are you okay?” he asked when he saw that I wasn’t responding.
That was my last chance to tell him how I actually felt.
“I’m not okay, I’m gonna miss you. You’re the only real friend I have, and when you leave I’m not gonna have anyone. Sure, I can make other friends, but none of them are gonna be like you. I actually like you. I want you to hug me forever and never let go like you did when we first met. But now that I know I’ll probably never see you again, I know I can't have that because you’re leaving me.” I sat there and cried as the words left my mouth and went out into the world.
Well, At least that’s what I wish had happened…
I actually never told him how I felt, I kept it inside.
In reality, when he asked me, I just nodded my head and simply said,” yeah, I’m just gonna miss you a lot”.
I got up and gave him a hug, and started to tear up. I guess he heard me sniffling because he said the same exact words that he said to me on the day we first met at 7 years old:
“I don’t want you to cry, you’re too pretty to cry”
The day that Nathan left was one of the saddest days of my life. I remember our goodbye very vividly.
“I guess it’s goodbye,” I said pulling him into a hug.
“I guess it is,” he said with the saddest tone I would ever hear.
He released from the hug. And just before he walked away, he said: “I left something in your jacket pocket, but don’t look at it until you can’t see the car anymore.”
I nodded as I watched him get into the car.
I made a promise to myself as I watched the car drive away. I would not look at what was in my pocket – somehow, I knew it would hurt too much.
Years passed since I said goodbye to Nathan, and I never wore that jacket again. I kept it in my closet, but I never had the heart to look at what he left me in the pocket. For a while we still talked here and there, but neither of us ever mentioned it. Over time we kinda drifted apart.
Today, it has been 8 years since Nathan left, 8 years since he left something for me in that jacket pocket.
Today I was cleaning out my closet and I found the jacket. A wave of memories washed over me. The day he left me. The day my heart broke completely. The day my whole life changed.
I finally surrendered to the pain and curiosity and opened the jacket pocket. I took it out and saw the pictures we took in a photo booth at the carnival we went to just days before he left. I remember telling him to keep the pictures so that he would remember me. I flipped it over and saw that he wrote me a note on the back.
It read: “I’m gonna miss you, and I know you probably don’t feel the same way, but I like you way more than you think”
That's what I found in my navy blue jacket pocket 8 years after Nathan left. And now I must live with the realization that it’s 8 years too late.