I bumped into the ex-love of my life in the supermarket.
At first it was a surprise. I was trying to place where I knew that face, a face I had held in my hands in the most intimate of moments. It finally dawned on me who it was. It felt like it took an eternity, but this happened in seconds. Then surprise gave way to joy. In hindsight, I think we shared the same rhythmic reaction.
She immediately placed her shopping basket in her left hand and embraced me with her right arm. In that moment I noticed she wore a different style of perfume now. That was a shock that I didn’t feel comfortable commenting on. It felt too intimate. She stood back, looked me up and down, and told me I looked great. Turns out being unwell is great for the abs. I didn’t tell her about my illness and instead, let the compliment be what it was intended to be. She too looked amazing but I guess that was due to a healthier lifestyle. We lived it up in the day, back when you bounced back from late nights and poor food choices like you were going to live forever.
We exchanged information at a rapid rate. She was married, two children, both girls. They all lived up the Central Coast and were in town for a couple of days to check in on her husband’s ailing grandfather. She was no longer a nurse but was back at school studying. I can’t remember what the subject was, but it sounded impressive. I kept information about me to a minimum, mainly because my news wasn’t something you wanted to share while standing in front of the sweet potatoes and garlic bulbs. Yes, I was still doing the same job. Yes, Mum and Dad were still alive and doing well. No, I hadn’t married. No, I wasn’t dating anyone. All the usual stuff.
After a few minutes she had to run, as the family were waiting out in the car to head back down the Coast. We hugged and made the same old promises you make with long forgotten friends. We have to catch up. Find me online. I want to hear about everything. In my younger cynical days, I would have been dismissive of these words. Now? I get it. Life gets in the way of the best intentions.
It wasn’t until much later that I realised she had called me by a nickname she couldn’t possibly have known, one that was only given to me in the last decade. I thought about that most of the afternoon until the sun set, and the shadows of night had stretched out across my world. While I took the last of my medication for the day, I came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter. What did matter was that it was nice to see someone you once loved and be reminded that it was the most worthwhile feeling you ever experienced at the age you spent together. Knowing I don’t have much longer, it is a memory I will take with me as a friendly companion for the rest of my journey.
Copyright Justin Hamilton 2019