An Invitation To Intimacy:
It is impossible to anticipate when memory of a past love will drop in unexpectedly, and you can't be certain of what that "visit" will mean in your current relationship.
Late one spring morning we were driving along on unfamiliar back roads, between Canton, North Carolina, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Having started without breakfast, we were looking for a diner. Finally, we found one.
The Jukebox Cafe was everything its name suggested, with a working, multi-colored jukebox, and larger than life pictures of John Wayne, Elvis Presley, and Marilyn Monroe. The cafe was nearly empty, and although the jukebox blinked its seductive invitation, we heard only muffled sounds from the kitchen and the footsteps of our waitress.
While we waited for what turned out to be a great lunch, three telephone linemen came in. They bantered briefly and ordered before the youngest of the men got up, put some coins into the jukebox, and made his choice. A song began to play. What happened next, and how it affected us, we each need to tell in our own words.
Kate: The lineman had chosen that special song--one I had never heard sung by anyone except Ted, my former partner. So there I was, in a cafe in North Carolina with Leon, my husband, remembering the way Ted had sung to me, his voice filled with tenderness, the words telling me I was loved, cherished, someone special to him. Hearing that song evoked the best of my life with Ted and the loss of what could never be.
My eyes filled with tears as I looked across the table at Leon. I could tell that he saw the love and loss in my heart. He already knew about that song's significance -- had even met Ted -- so I didn't have to wonder if I could, or should, explain my tears. He knew of my deep and continuing love for Ted. When Leon reached across the table and took my hand, I felt his love right beside the memory of Ted's. They were no longer separate.
We moved without words into a profound closeness. And if I had ever wondered whether telling Leon about that song had compromised some idea of what I should keep to myself, that question disappeared as we sat across from each other at the Juke Box Cafe.
Leon: I was not surprised by Kate's tears. I knew that when Ted had sung this song to Kate, it was not in the voice of a guitar-playing sixties troubadour, but a simple, heartfelt expression of deep affection. Now that song from her past, with its special message for Kate, had moved into our present. And I chose to take her hand, in silent witness to her memories, her love, her loss.
But witness is not limited to observation of what is outside of oneself. I too had been offered an opening to feelings, with no way to predict what form they would take. Here before me was a story, a reminder that no song I could sing would ever find quite this place in Kate's heart. This was a bond I could never have with her.
I felt that loss, and was aware of a faint voice suggesting that I feel sorry for myself, even withdraw. But I also felt the extraordinary closeness of being somehow inside what Kate was feeling while I held her hand and looked into her smiling, tearful eyes. A stranger's selection on a thirty year old jukebox had offered an unexpected possibility for a deepened intimacy.