By R.B. Schimmel
“Have we met before?” He uttered these words before I could even sit down. I looked up at him, but I was not sure what to say, how to tell him. I struck a pose and beamed, “Yes, we met in elementary school. You didn’t like me much, and I stuck my tongue out at you.”
The response was what I expected. Surprise, so I continued, “We met again in junior high, at the sock hop. You asked me to dance, your shy smile betrayed your confidence, and I fell in love. We weren’t quite ready yet, and we went our separate ways not to meet again until high school.”
Now he looked at me completely puzzled, and he slowly took a sip of the drink that was on the table before him. “Would you like something?” he inquired with a steady gaze.
“No, I don’t think so. Oh alright, I’ll have what you’re having. So,” I began, “do you remember me?”
He seemed to be in deep thought, and then he looked up at me and quietly asked, “Have we met before?” His chiseled face, so lined now, I wanted to hold his once strong chin in my hands. I had to stop myself from raking my fingers through the wisps of gray hair that were jet black and so wonderfully wavy long ago.
Instead, I set my water down and looked into those confused eyes and replied, “Yes, at the prom. I was with your cousin, and you boldly stepped forward, bowed, and offered your hand to lead me to the dance floor. Your shy smile, once you had me in your arms, betrayed your confidence, and I fell in love, again. You were off to college though, and I was just a dance.”
“So, I know you?” he lifted his head and asked.
“Yes, like no one else on this earth. You know where I hide, you know what I don’t say, and you know what I pray for.”
“Have we met before?”
“Yes, at the fair. You were home, graduated from college. I was on the midway, the music was playing, and you asked me to dance, smiling shyly and betraying your confidence. I fell totally in love.”
“I’m hungry. Should we eat now?”
“Yes.” I answered. “Let’s go to the cafeteria and get our supper.”
On the way, he met people he knew. “Hello, Gerry, Gertrude, how are you two ladies doing tonight? Sam, haven’t seen you in a few days, glad you are up and about again.”
And they looked at him, at me, and Sam asked, “Does he know you today?”
“No, not today, Sam, but I am helping him remember so maybe tomorrow. We have had our yesterdays. He will remember more, I’m sure.” Sam gave me that knowing smile, and we continued down the hall.
We took our seats at the table; we had both chosen the same thing to eat. He was slathering butter on his baked potato and eyeing his roast beef when he looked at me and inquired, “Have we met before?”
“Yes, in 1970 at the altar. We said ‘I do’ to each other, and then at our reception, with all confidence, you asked, ‘Mrs. Brady, may I have this dance?’ And for the second time that day I answered, yes.”
“I’m feeling rather tired.” He stretched and yawned. “Perhaps you’ll come back again, I have enjoyed catching up.” We walked together down the hall to his room. I held his elbow to steady him. We entered his room; his bed had been turned down, and I led him to it.
He sat down. “Have we met before?” he asked as I removed his slippers.
“Yes, my darling.” I stroked his head. “We met in the delivery room in 1972 and again in ‘74 and with much joy and astonishment in 1980! We met in the funeral home when our parents died. We met again at the grave of our child of 1980. We have met at the altar when our own flesh and blood wed, and at the fountain of salvation when their babies were baptized. We have held hands, touched places only we can touch, and loved so much. Have we met before? Oh yes, I know you.”
I sat for a minute, preparing to leave. I turned to lay a gentle kiss upon his cheek. I saw a tear meet at the edge of a smile that betrayed all confidence, and I knew I would be back tomorrow.
Maybe we would dance.