I wish I could hold time in my hands. I wish I could talk to it. Oh, how I would ask it to give me just a few more increments of its elusive power. How can something we can’t touch or see have so much control over our lives. It was time that took you too soon, too young, before I got to say all of the things I wanted to, needed to. Things you will never know. And I carry them like a weight, these words, these sentences, right in the middle of my chest, because they have nowhere else to go.
If only time had allowed me to understand the things I would want to say after you were gone. That’s the thing. They told me “don’t leave anything unsaid.” But I didn’t know what I wanted to say until it was too late, until you were gone. It was the time afterward that held all the wisdom.
© jacqueline simon gunn
I wrote this piece for my mother, who died within one month of a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. There were so many things I wanted to say but didn’t, because I didn’t want to scare her; she, being a stoic person and always more concerned with everyone else’s needs, didn’t share what her emotions were. She was dying and we never really talked about it. I carry this with me every day, all the time, even when I’m not thinking about it.
As time has gone on, I’ve found that what I would have wanted to say (or would say), keeps changing. There are so many things now, almost twelve years later, that I understand through life experience that I didn’t understand then. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that there are many people I have things to say to, things I only realized in retrospect.
When someone impacts our life, there will always be more to say. Some piece of them is always with us. And with each movement forward that piece shifts around and becomes something different; some new way of understanding the past and ourselves. In this way, the past is as influenced by the present as the present is by the past.
If you follow my writing, you know that I explore emotions and complex psychological processes through my characters. After years of academic and narrative nonfiction writing, I felt that I could explore deeper aspects of motivation and emotions if I shed the layer of distance in nonfiction writing and immersed myself directly into the hearts and minds of my characters.
In Forever and One Day, I explore enduring love, betrayal, forgiveness, redemption and loss. My next book, scheduled for release in January, is called, Where You’ll Land. It’s romantic fiction, taking place in Miami. The characters come together, in a tangled web, when they enter a clinical psychology graduate school program. I will post a synopsis and teaser as the release gets closer.
I’m now working on rewrites for a spin-off from Forever and One Day. For readers who asked for more at the end of Forever and One Day, there will be more, but it will also read as a standalone.
It’s romantic fiction, but like Forever and One Day, there are philosophical questions posed through the narrative, places for readers, who are interested in introspective reflections, to pause and think about life. For those who are looking to be whisked away, there is a tangled love story filled with drama and complex family dynamics.
Amanda Wilcox is my protagonist and she is a nostalgia columnist. Her column, I Just Wanted You to Know, is woven into the plot of the story. I decided to start a blog that will run while I’m doing the rewrites on the book. I’m opening submissions to anyone. You don’t have to be a writer. We all have things we’d like to say or wish we had said. We carry these words deep inside of us and they influence our present, whether we are conscious of them or not. I'd like to open a dialogue for this. I’d like people to use this blog as a place to put those words and for others to read pieces that may resonate.
Thank you to all of the people who contributed pieces for the first blog in the I Just Wanted You to Know series.
I couldn't forgive you, not back then. I hadn't sinned enough myself. I hadn't told enough lies to understand why people lie. I hadn't felt enough pain to know how much pain takes out of a person. I hadn't been alone long enough to know what loneliness can drive a person to do.
Now I've lived, I can see why you chose not to. I won't follow you, not into the dark. Not today. The truth is, what you did still hurts and I bet it always will. Compassion is hardest to attain for those who have hurt us. But here we are, twenty years further down the road, and I'm starting to get a sense of that compassion.
I wish I could have said all this back then, but I didn't know it then, and we didn't talk. Not like this. If we had... No, forget "if we had." Neither of us could, so life is as it is.
One more minute on your rosary and you'll dispose of me and the things that I did to your soul.
- Chris Iorio
I think you might have been the love of my life. The way we fell right into each other’s life and how you consumed my every thought. It was just as if my heart had been saving a space just for you to fill it and take your rightful place all along. I just couldn’t tell you, I don’t think my husband would have approved.
It wouldn’t be fair to say we didn’t lead each other on, all those late nights swirled in hot chocolate, your head nestled in my lap, my fingers kneading trails and tribulations out of each sinew extending from your hairline, down your nape, to the musculature that spanned your broad shoulders. Our platonic exchanges, nothing more than narratives of our romantic strifes and betrayals, salved by the gentle caress of each other’s hushed tones. Pheromones charged the oxygen we refused to inhale, despite our futile attempt to halt the revolution that had been brewing under our skins from the get go.
But we’d made our choices, or at least, I’d made them for the both of us when I laid down the ground rules in cement I wouldn’t let dry, in the vain hope that you would surrender your chivalry to the attraction we could no longer deny. I was already in love with the man I knew I’d spend the rest of my life with and I had made it clear that I had nothing to offer you so what would we call what we had or more accurately what we didn’t have? We wouldn’t diminish its value by wrapping it up in a cheap affair, but we couldn’t strip it down to reveal the the truth either. Was it actually possible for me to love two men at the same time? And would your lack of admission to the heinous crime of falling for a taken woman disarm the combustible tension that threatened to capsize our already precarious intentions?
I knew I had to let you go, but for that, I had to let you in first and I wasn’t confident I could come back up for air after being submerged by the full extent and depth of everything we felt for each other. It broke me into more pieces than I knew how to put back together, but the pieces I’m missing were your chance at being loved back the way you deserved, with every cell in someone else’s being and I couldn’t take them back because I could never be that person. I often stare into space and find myself in an out of body, hovering over the earth, with a telescopic view state, where I see us with our respective families, eyes radiant with joy and imagine you looking up at me, grateful that we took the high road. Is there a part of me that wonders what could have been? Yes, there will always be, but it looks smaller each time I check and I’m reassured that we ended up where we were meant to be.
- Ambica Gossain, @tryst_with_fiction
I miss the guy who used to call me beautiful 500 different ways. Who called just to say that he was thinking of me and that he missed me. Can you tell him I miss him too? That I need him.
It was late In March of 2018 When I heard the news About Devin McQueen A friend who had served Our great nation so well And had feared not one man Here on Earth nor in Hell But that afternoon On a Tuesday at 2 He drove himself home He had something to do He was there to confront His much younger lover Angry, they quarreled Over something or other The next thing he knew She was lying there dead Then he silently raised His own gun to his head The crying of his 6 month-old Son went unheard From the next room as Devin Departed our world. While everyone weighs The pros and cons Of freedoms and rights And the bearing of arms My nights have been restless With thoughts of you, friend How you brought yourself To your own grisly end For what it costs In human lives At the hands of The emotionally compromised Is it worth the weight You felt on your hip That this tragedy had to Go down like this My brain is hamstrung My heart aches for you But they now call you “coward” And I know that it’s true. And I’m sad that your boy Will grow up with no dad And will never know The good friend I once had.
~ Victor Ferrara Jr.
the past that lies behind me
i often think i romanticize
that maybe some of those
moments are over fantasized
but i as i gloss over the rare
black splotches of my childhood
i admit i wish my children
had a different world, that they could
be in a time when it was safe to
say hello to strangers & go outside to play
when girls weren’t obsessed with
their selfies, bodies, or social media page
when boys weren’t afraid to be themselves
& weren’t forced into some certain box
when parents didn’t have to be
called or texted just to have a talk
when nights meant sitting together
family meals, laughter & hugging
not all this distance, these voids
these fractures we are creating
i miss back porches, camping trips
board game nights & counting fireflies
making brownies with mom, playing tag with dad
reading real books, going on bike rides
i never knew what this world would become
as i grew up & saw so much change
why do we not ever realize when
we are truly living in the good old days?
by: august bones - @august_bones7
*If you're interested in submitting a piece for the next nostalgia blog, please contact me through my website, Facebook page, or Instagram page.