Marie sat quietly beside Jim, buried her toes in the warm sand and looked out to sea. This was their favorite place. They would come here every time there was a thing to work out in their respective jobs and families. Been friends since they were small; neighbors actually in this small coastal town. But they hit it swell more than the other kids on the block. This was their special place. Like other kids had their tree house, they had this shore all to themselves because nobody bothered to come here preferring the more popular sands in the next town. Marie stole a side glance at him wondered what things were running through his mind now. But not wanting to pry she simply sat there and waited.
I could have stayed with mom and dad instead of going off to the big city--- helped in the store, settled down, raised a family and gave them a dozen grandchildren. But I didn’t, said Jim.
You had a dream. They understood that pretty well. Marie softly replied. An only child, Jim was now home to bury his parents who died in a fatal car accident enroute to the capital to spend the Easter holidays with him.
No, Marie, I was selfish. But they’re gone now. I lost a million chances to say how much they mean to me and the chance to make it all up to them. I thought they’d always be there, that when I’m through with all this running and chasing and come back home one day, they would still be there. See that old familiar tree by the cliff? Still standing today—indestructible. Like I thought they, too, would live forever. God, I’d change everything---- turn things around --given half the chance.
Marie was silent. There was nothing she could muster up to say. Shifting her gaze back out to sea she thought-- just what are the things I, too, would change given half the chance. Marry a friend instead of a lover? Be more spontaneous with life instead of too organized and predictable? Forgive more instead of holding a grudge? Consider my mother a friend and not the enemy? It's a long list.
Does that mean that everything now is wrong in my life? Who can tell me I should have done it the other way before I took the road I chose? We carry on with what we feel and know, don’t we? Isn’t that how we live our lives? And only after coming up to a snag do we see our mistakes. Knocked to our senses we feel remorse, wished things were different--- and like Jim, want to change things given half the chance.
She looked back at Jim-- saw pain etched on his face-. Marie turned her eyes back out to sea ---but-- there is no second chance. So this is what it all means-- Oh God, whatever good that I can do, let me do it now. Let me not defer or delay it for I shall pass this road but once. I shall not pass this way again. There will be no next time---or a second chance to make things right. We've got only one life to do it right.
Marie put her arms around Jim and felt her own tears fall.
posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 6:30 AM