When I lost my girl to another man



It was the text message that started it all, that now had me thinking. Remembering. Watching her come into the world, a squawking, mucus-mass bundle of breathing beauty, to a world back then as uncertain as it is now, to a couple for whom she held an unknown quantity and of whom she asked nothing but to be fed and watered and loved, an emotion and need, known only then to her as a human instinct.

Running through the dark of middle-night when the bogeyman disturbed her young sleep, to lie in beside her and envelop her in arms that never wanted to let go but only reassure her that all was right with the world and a new dawn was coming and to look lovingly into her once-again calm countenance and see her grandmother, fleetingly, look back.

That first day at little school when her bag threatened to dwarf her and she looked back and waved and you knew it was the beginning of the letting go as you watched until she became a dot and disappeared into a new world of learning and you headed home, alone.

The trips to the swings, the beach, the zoo and that secret place you both escaped to, that was hers alone, and that nowadays you often pass on the harbour road, catching a glimpse of yesterday and her dancing, child-like against the wind, running to be swept up again in those enveloping arms and hugged ’til it hurt.

The puppy-fat and pubescent angst and how now, years later, she told you, out of the blue, that puppy-fat or no, you telling her, always telling her, that she was the most beautiful girl in the world had held fast to her sense of self and place in this uncertain world.

Her first love, first broken heart, and how she shied away from confiding in you and ran less to your now idle arms but talked of boys, and make-up, and girlish things, occupying a place in a world that was increasingly alien to you. But you waited on the side-line … just in case.

Her debutante’s ball and fussing over a family photo and how you thought her dress, though a wonderful creation, was showing perhaps too much flesh but you marvelled at the young woman now standing in front of you and saw once again the faint look of her grandmother but most of all the beauty of her own self.

The pride and pomp of graduation day when she walked the hallowed halls, surrounded by new-found friends and fellow graduates, the future they promised to this uncertain world and that you and hundreds like you had helped nurture and inform and offer some sort of semblance of what was right and what was wrong and hoped to God you had succeeded. If only just a little.

And the day she packed her world into cardboard boxes and his dad, not you, came and had the honour of driving them to their new home and you went back upstairs with older steps to a room of memories and bogeymen in the night, that was almost empty now, save for a teddy bear, her first, that she had unwittingly or not left behind and you held it tight in enveloping arms and wondered where the years had gone

It was the text that got me thinking.

Can you meet me before you leave for Belfast?

So, I did, and Gary asked if he could have her hand in marriage and I said I’d be honoured for he is a gallant, and virtuous, knight and loves her with a passion and intensity that only one other man could understand. And their love for each other in excitingly new enveloping arms bodes well for the challenges ahead in this, uncertain, world.

And, so, she moves on and I took the car to Belfast this Monday gone, the torrential rain against the window-screen blinding me and wetting my eyes in a mass of mixed emotions as I once again clicked her message on my phone.

I luv you 2, it read, U will always b my Ist man I loved, I’m sorry … I’m just so overwhelmed and happy Niamh xx

And I smiled to myself and moved the car into top gear and headed off to another day in an uncertain world.

Thinking, I must have done something right …

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