My grandmother sometimes tells me this story about a man she once loved. Whenever she tells the story, it’s always unclear to me who this man is; Grandpa, or some other significant beam of light that once shot across her universe.
She begins the story ironically. She says that she doesn’t remember how it all began – as if there was no quantifiable point in time in which she and he met, no coffee shop romance, no fleeting moment at the train station. She says that she doesn't remember how it all began, but then reminds me that it has one hell of an ending.
Her story jumps around and it’s hard to follow, although there is one bit in particular that has always struck me as worth remembering. She and the man hadn’t spoken for years. My grandmother and her friend were just getting back from graduate school. It was early evening, and the sun had long been set, but she could make out a handsome man across the street walking towards her apartment. Her heart stopped. It was the postman, but it reminded her of someone else.
She says that they walked across the street towards her apartment and suddenly she knew, with an eerie amount of certainty but without the ability to explain it, that the postman had something special for her. He handed the mail to her friend. Decades passed in the time it took for her friend to hand the letter to my grandmother. “It’s for you,” she said, with a look. My grandmother says that she will always remember the look, because it confirmed what she already knew to be true even before she had seen who it was from.
So it was him! I say, excitedly. What happened? I ask. And how does it end? She smiles and completes the story with yet another hint of irony – a question.
Isn’t the important part that I knew?