It all began so simply.  That’s what they always say, isn’t it?  In every great love story, there’s always some dramatic voice-over from the latest James Earl Jones wannabe, wistfully telling the audience, “It all began…so simply…”

What a load of crap!

Life is not simple.  Love is definitely not simple.  Nothing that comes before, during or after life and love is simple.  Life sucks.  Isn’t that what the bumper stickers say?  Nobody is an exception to that rule.  Especially not me.

An excerpt from the private journals of Jesse Mason

“He changed everything, you know.  Everything we thought we knew about life, about each other, even about ourselves.  Your brother changed it all.”  Megan Rey sat across the table from her dear friend’s older sister, Tina Mason as they recalled the events leading up to what they now frequently refer to as ‘The Miracle.’

In reality, The Miracle didn’t feel like a miracle at all at the time.  But as Megan recalled the experiences she shared with her deepest, closest friends, she couldn’t help but feel amazed at the way a single, horribly painful and selfish choice was used, seemingly by some higher power, to change them all for the better.

“I know.  You all thought I was so distant at the time, but I was in the mix with you,” Tina fought hard to hold back tears as she spoke.  Her emotions were a complex and confusing blend of joy and sorrow, love and anger, all rolled into that single tear that seemed to be doing everything it could to fall.  Yet she managed to win the short lived, silent war with that tear, because she knew it wasn’t alone.  If even one was aloud to escape, an entire army of the little pests wouldn’t be far behind.

“I think on some level, we all knew he was meant for something special, but none of us could have guessed at how things would play out.  How could we?  I’ll never forget how afraid I was for him when he left home, the only place he had ever known, to move to the city.  We all thought he was crazy and I honestly thought mom would never speak to him again, but Jesse knew.  He knew what he wanted and he had a pretty good idea where to find it.”

The truth is, Pamela Mason loved her children more deeply than anybody knew; she just didn’t know how to show it most of the time.  She wasn’t angry with Jesse for leaving town, she was just afraid of the pain and disappointment she knew in her heart he was bound to experience.  To be fair, she knew falling down was a part of growing up, but what mother actually wants her son to get hurt?  She only wanted to protect him, but he would never understand that.

“He never knew about the battles I fought for him after he left,” Tina remembered.  “He’ll never know how hurt mom was and how helpless it made her feel to think she was going to lose him.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not angry with him.  I know he needed to go and discover himself.  Mom just…never understood.

She wasn’t the one that was next to him in that hospital after that girl’s family did what they did to him.  She wasn’t the one that had to watch him sink deeper and lower with every day that went by with no sign of Morgan.  But more than that, she never really knew him.  She never saw how fragile he was and she never saw how special he was.  Not like I did.  Not like you did.”

“He was special, wasn’t he?  None of us saw it at first, but Jesse is the one that drew us all together,” now it was Megan’s turn to fight back the tears.  She would never understand how these memories could be so sweet and so painful, all at once.  “I’ll never forget that first night we all met.  Do you believe in fate?  No, fate isn’t the right word.  Not even close.  It was destiny; we were all meant to be a part of this, as if everything that happened was a part of some play that was written and staged before any of us could have guessed what we were in for.”  She had to stop a second and laugh at the irony of that thought.  “Jesse would have loved that idea.  His entire life, one big, dramatic play.

Jamie was honestly probably the best actor out of all of us.  She was so scared of being alone, so hungry for love, but she just couldn’t see then that what she was looking for came in so many different shapes.  She thought she needed romance, but she really just wanted to be loved.  When she couldn’t find that, she just settled for the first good looking guy that glance in her direction and pretended she was fine with what she had.

Collin was such a walking mess, you couldn’t help but love him.  I’ve never met anybody so jaded in my life, but there was still a caring way about him that you just didn’t find in most people.  I hate to say it, but I think he loved Jesse more than any of us.  More than me, even.  He looked out for that kid so well, your mother really had nothing to worry about when Collin was around.  He was always like the older brother Jesse never had and we all loved him for it.

Myself, I was always so frustrated with people, I was missing out on life itself.  I was jaded in my own way, I guess.  All I wanted was a connection with somebody that really mattered.  You know how people always say things like ‘be careful what you wish for, because someday you might get it?’  Well, I got it.  I know the saying is supposed to mean that what you want may not really turn out very well but, if I’m being honest…even after everything that happened, I’m so thankful for the things we experienced together.

And, Jesse.  Well, you know he always had grand ideas of becoming a famous actor.  I think he could have done it, you know.  But he was looking for so much more than lights and a big stage.  Jesse was all about love.  He would tell us that his only love was the stage, but we all knew better.  All it would take to distract him from the idea, at least for a while, was the slightest hint that he might have found somebody to love.

I thought I could save him from that, Tina.  I really did,” there was no holding back the tears now.  Not with these memories flooding her mind the way they do when she would finally give into them.  Fighting through blurry eyes and choking voice, the last words she could manage before losing it completely were, “I did love him.  I just realized it too late…”

“Hey, no!”  Tina was on the losing end of her own battle now.  “No, sweetheart, you weren’t too late.  You were right on time.  We all know now that what happened was meant to be.  And look at where it’s brought us.”

This conversation was nothing new.  Every year, the two would come together, in this place where everything started, and simply remember together.  The others were so far away now, they would come when they could, but this year it was just them.

What the girls couldn’t see was the owner of the bar they were sitting in – that same bar that saw the beginning of events that would change the lives of everyone involved – was sitting just out of sight and listening to their conversation with tears in his own eyes.  Every year he would silently witness this emotional reunion.  And every year, he participated in the private memorial in his own, silent little way.

Everybody sat in silence now.  There was nothing left to say; there was nothing left to do, save for remembering and that was okay.  That’s all they really needed and that was the sole reason they chose to come together, year after year.  Their only concern was to remember and to be remembered.

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