This used to be the place I ran to Whenever I was in need of a friend, Why did it have to end? ("This Used To Be My Playground", Madonna) *
Can you help me remember how to smile? Make it somehow all seem worthwhile? How on earth did I get so jaded? Life's mystery seems so faded... ("Runaway Train", Soul Asylum) *
If you knew Blaine you'd most likely think that he is a kindhearted, quiet sort of man. People always describe him as being "easy going" and "a nice guy"--but quiet and somewhat melancholy. What most people don't see is the despair behind his soft, strikingly beautiful green eyes. That was what had attracted me when I first met him---his eyes. Blaine doesn't talk about himself much. In fact, he rarely mentions his own emotions at all. And he also never talks about hopes and dreams for the future. He has no trust in the future. And if I ever ask him about a future event; i.e. if we can go on a vacation next year or buy a house, he always replies with the same sentence: "We'll see....." And in all the years I've known him, these facets of his personality have never changed.
And it took me quite a few years to find out all the details of the horrific tragedy which broke his heart and left him forever ensconced in the murky, solemn demeanor he has exhibited in all the years I've known him.
And I think the horrible secret behind his sad eyes is exactly what causes him to indulge me in my numerous whims and to spoil me to death. Because over and over, every single time he buys me something, even if it's just a knitting magazine, he never fails to ask: "Are you happy now?" He isn't being sarcastic---he says it in earnest, really wanting to know if he made me happy. In fact, if I ever have a really bad day, what with my mental issues and constant anxiety, it is not uncommon for him to ask: "Can I buy you something which would cheer you up?"
Yes, Blaine tries to make me happy.
During the years after our divorce, when he lived here in Kansas and I had moved to Austin, Texas, he never wavered in his feelings for me, year after year. He never went out with another girl. And he kept calling me periodically---and even frequently visited my mother in a different part of Texas. On one of his trips to Austin, which he said was to visit friends, he brought me a kitten, which I almost named Pasquale but ended up naming the idgity thing "Squealy" since he bawled his eyes out all night for the first week I had him.
Basically, Blaine was waiting for me to come back to him---which eventually I did a couple of years ago. And now things have come full circle.
And I want to tell you his story because it's a story which needs to be told. It is a cautionary story which serves to remind us to always appreciate those we love---and never, ever take them for granted.
So here goes....
It happened when Blaine was 19 or 20, a long time ago, before I ever met him in Texas....
During his childhood he grew up in a small town in upstate New York. He was a child of a broken home, his mother having left his father when he was very young. She took Blaine's sister with her and moved back to the Queens area in New York City. And, like his two older brothers, Blaine opted to stay with their father.
But it was a very lonely existence for Blaine. His two older brothers soon left home themselves and his father, who was a raging alcoholic, paid little attention to Blaine. So at a very young age Blaine learned to fend for himself--- to cook for himself, do his own laundry, clean the house, and all the other things that a mother might do for a son.
Blaine had grown up with two best friends, and those friends became even more important to him after his parents split and his two older brothers had gone their own ways. Blaine's sister, Lexie, once told me that she had felt sorry for Blaine during those years because he always seemed so lonely, especially since neither his father nor his older brothers ever seemed very concerned about young, lonely Blaine.
And so, Lexie told me, after the family disintegrated, Blaine had clung even closer to his two best friends, trying to fill the cruel loneliness of a boy without a mother--- and feeling cast aside by his alcoholic father and two older brothers. Because, sadly, neither Blaine's father nor his brothers ever showed the slightest concern about how Blaine was growing up.
Thus, Blaine and his two buddies were rarely seen apart. They ditched school together, they graduated high school together, got jobs, and usually spent their weekends hanging out with each other and female acquaintances. And they had gained reputations for being somewhat delinquent youths---seen frequently and recklessly careening around town in one of their cars, running as high-spirited, free, and as beautiful as wild horses.
One Friday night, Blaine's two friends, David and Bruce, had planned to go out to the movies with their girlfriends. Of course they asked Blaine to go along but he said he'd skip this one as he had no date that weekend. He decided to stay home and watching TV while drinking a little beer. He later said that he had gone to bed early that night.
He was awoken at 3:00 am by the insistent sound of the ringing telephone. It was Bruce's sister. At first Blaine couldn't understand a word she said as she was screaming so hysterically and he was groggy from sleep. He kept telling her to slow down until he could finally understand what she was saying.
"They're all DEAD!" she screamed, nearly hyperventilating. "Oh Blaine, they're all dead! And I thought you were dead, too---but then they said you weren't in the car!"
"In the car? Who's dead?" he had replied stupidly, not comprehending.
"Oh honey! David and Bruce are dead!" she sobbed. "And also one of the girls that was in the car with them!"
Gradually, Blaine pulled it out of her that there had been a terrible car accident. Nobody knew just exactly how it had happened, but it looked like David had lost control of his car after being broadsided by another vehicle. Of the foursome, David, Bruce, and one of the two girls had been killed on the spot. The other girl, who'd sat on the passenger side of the back seat, had survived. No one had been wearing seat belts.
Blaine was aghast--- and traumatized.
His most precious of friends had all been killed. And if he had gone with them that night he probably would have been killed as well. It was so much for him to comprehend that he walked around in a daze for the next several days, almost catatonic, as the families prepared for the funerals. Blaine was to be a pallbearer at David's and Bruce's.
And then the next blow came.
David's mother asked Blaine if he would go to the impound lot, where David's car had been towed after the accident, to arrange to have it towed home. Blaine said of course he'd go. But when he arrived at the impound lot and the caretaker had taken him to David's car, Blaine was shocked and traumatized all over again.
The entire interior of the car was awash in his friends' blood---from front to back and even on the car's ceiling. And worse yet, there was a lot of brain matter and other parts of his friends' broken bodies scattered all over the place.....
....and good, kind Blaine didn't want his friend's mother to see all that. And so he painstakingly cleaned as much of it up as he could, to the amazement of the impound lot's caretaker.
* * * * * * * *
Everyone said Blaine was never the same after that accident. Whereas Blaine had once taken boisterous, gregarious joy in hanging out with his closest friends, he was now a quiet, sad, isolative shell of his former self. He began drinking heavily and had difficulty making new friends---nothing would ever be the same forevermore.
And Blaine would never, ever be able to get the picture of the interior of the destroyed car out of his mind.
Suddenly, the town seemed vacant and lonely to Blaine. And that is when he decided to move far away and start a new life. An acquaintance of his was going to move down to Austin, Texas, and advised Blaine that he should do the same since Austin has tons of computer related jobs. Blaine's father had worked for IBM in New York and so Blaine thought he might as well go down to Austin and apply to the branch of IBM there. And that is where I met my Blaine---in Austin when he was working for IBM. Eventually, we moved up here to Kansas since his sister and brother-in-law were here and invited us to come live near them, especially since computer jobs are plentiful here as well. And not only did we move here, but one of Blaine's older brothers moved his family here as well. I divorced Blaine 4 years later......but as I related before, Blaine never lost faith that I'd come back to him. And eventually I did. And when Lexie told me how rough Blaine had taken our divorce, and how much it had hurt him, I felt terrible--- and I have decided that I will NEVER, EVER take him for granted again. So that's the story. And now I know why he always asks me, after he's bought me something, if I'm "happy". I think that deep down inside of his fractured heart that he, too, doesn't ever want to take someone he loves for granted again. He's lost enough--- and there will always be those two terrible, tragic holes in his heart of hearts for David and Bruce. And so I allow him to fret over me, which he does faithfully, even in the face of all of my crazy, mental insanity problems and substance abuse issues. And whenever Blaine asks me "if I'm happy"..... ... I always give him my most excited, thrilled and happy facial expression while replying: "Oh yes, Blaine! This makes me very happy!" And then I am gratified to see that satisfied look come over his face with just a flicker of some lost, forgotten light in his lovely green eyes. And all is well.... *
Someday little girl,
You'll wonder what life's about, What others have known, few battles are won alone, So, you'll look around to find, Someone who's kind, someone who is fearless like you... ("True Grit", Glenn Campbell) * *