The memory has always stayed with me of that last summer before my parents moved us away. I don't think the sun ever shined so bright, as when I was ten years old. The old neighbourhood, made up of tired, run down housing on the edge of the desert. A beat up old park, more sand than grass was the centre of my universe and just down the street. There was always the promise of adventure as me and my friends transported ourselves to distant times and other worlds.
The old climbing frame was the hub of our adventures, It was sometimes a tank; sometimes a time machine and sometime a place to hangout and make plans. On my last day there was no where else I would be. I had stayed after my friends had left, no yet willing to give up this magical place, hanging by my knees, feeling the blood rush to my head, pounding a regular beat. I looked around at an unfamiliar noise, a gentle squeak followed by a thump, that was getting closer. Upside down as I was, I could not turn enough to get a proper look without falling from my perch.
The squeak and thump were getting louder, I had hauled myself back up and found myself looking down at a beautiful girl in a paisley dress making her way towards me on her pogo-stick. Sarah was in my class at at school and I was deeply in love with her, all my friends at the time knew it and teased me mercilessly. She had made her way towards me, nearly falling off as she attempted a quick wave. My mouth went dry, I was going to have to speak to her, what on earth was I going to say?
Sarah finally made it over to me. My heart was pounding in my chest and my face flushed as I had climbed down to meet her. There was an uncomfortable silence whilst Sarah had gotten her breath back and I had stood there staring at my trainers. There was so much I wanted to say to her but time was my bitter enemy, I had felt a surge of anger then, at my life and my Parents for ruining it. It is amazing the difference time makes, knowing now, as I do that the decision was the right one, does not change the feeling of righteous anger I had felt at that moment.
Sarah was the first one to break the silence, “so you leave today?” I had looked up at her face then, something in her voice, a nervousness I had not heard before. Her face had been flushed too, I had thought it was just from using the pogo-stick but she seemed to be having trouble meeting my eyes as well. I had replied sadly “first thing tomorrow morning, to beat the traffic”. “Oh” was all she said, a determined look appeared on her face, before she had suddenly stepped forward and planted a quick kiss on my lips.
Before I could even begin to recover she pulled an envelope out of her pocket, thrust it into my hands and carrying her pogo-stick under her arm beat a hasty retreat. I swear my mouth must have been opening and closing like a goldfish, I had looked down at the envelope and back up at the dwindling figure of Sarah. I had watched until Sarah was completely out of sight before ripping open the envelope to find out what treasure was within.
I pulled out a letter and read its contents again and again until the light was to bad to see the words. The letter remains with me to this day, like me, it is a little faded and more than a little the worse for wear. I think back to that glorious Summer all those years ago, when the Sun was shining the brightest it has ever been. I realise that it was not an ending that day but a beginning.
I can only hope you feel the same,
thoughts of you not being here make me sad.
Please write to me every week
and I will do the same.
that way, no matter how far,
we will still be together.
I told the story and read out the letter at my 21st birthday party and we all laughed; I did the same thing on our wedding day, my beautiful Sarah and you cried; I told our children and grand children and we both cried; now as I hold your hand and tell our story to you, one last time, it is only me crying. I do not know if you can still hear me, but I want you to know, my feelings are still as bright as that summer so many years ago. Death is not the end, merely a new beginning, where I will be with you once more.