Spent a good chunk of the day today with an ex from long ago, who was passing through our general area on the way to training for an Air Force deployment. I hadn't seen him in nearly 15 years, and it was really great to finally have a chance to catch up face to face, but the whole experience reminded me of nothing so much as an old Garth Brooks song called 'Unanswered Prayers.' Pronouns switched, of course.
Just the other night, at a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them, the past came back to me
And I couldn’t help but think of the way things used to be.
She was the one that I’d wanted for all times
And each night I’d spend prayin’, that God would make her mine
And if he’d only grant me, this wish I wished back then
I’d never ask for anything again.
Way back when, this guy and I were pretty serious. We were young, though, and our lives were taking us in two very different directions at the time. When we did finally break up, it was a nod to reality and logistics more than anything else, and it was very painful.
The first time I heard this song, I thought the narrator was going to realize that he was still in love with his high school flame, but I was wrong:
Sometimes I thank God, for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers.
She wasn’t quite the angel, that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me, in her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days, there wasn’t much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what he’s doin’ after all.
Today, I had a moment of just looking at this guy across my kitchen table as we were talking, my kids playing in the family room beyond. It was very odd to see the familiar face, to remember loving him, but not to love him any longer except in the most platonic sense. I want him to be happy, and he is. He's married to a lovely woman, one far better for him than I ever would have been, and has three beautiful kids and a good life going for himself. I'm very glad that my place in his life is peripheral at best. That's absolutely as it should be.
And as she walked away, I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good Lord for the gifts in my life.
Like the narrator of the song, I wouldn't go back if I could. I wouldn't trade my now for any used-to-be I've ever had, this guy included. This is not a new conclusion for me, but I did get a powerful reminder of it today! Himself is the man with whom I should be sharing my life...the gift and blessing is that it worked out that way.