The Father of My 17-Year Crush Just Died and Now I Love Him More Than Ever

I mean it’s not really love. It’s just a sore longing for what could’ve been if he had been bedazzled by the mere sight of me — the way I was back in the summer of 2001 when we flew into a hail storm in Denver, Colorado.

It was his cousin’s wedding. She was a family friend and in Nigerian terms — that’s basically family. “Family friends” indicates that there is an invested relationship that spans decades — which is enough time to establish the connectivity that is meant to continue through the assumed bonds of the offspring on both sides.

In this case — my father grew up with her mother who is slightly older and this happened because both their parents were very close. That closeness flourished as the years went by and even included my mother who developed a sisterly bond with the younger sister of my father’s friend when they were both in boarding school.

Sorry! That was a lot!

Well — my younger brother and I grew up and became friendly with the seven children of my father’s childhood friend — although to be honest — I was really the only one who formed a tangible relationship with four of the six girls. The middle son was considerably older than my brother — so nothing was realistically going to be established between them.

While in boarding school — I started to make my own friends and realized that these girls were probably not going to end up being my bosom buddies for reasons that were pretty simple. We just had nothing in common.

There was the one girl — who took a special interest in me — in ways that indicated what it would’ve been like if I had a big sister. She was also quite close to my mother so I guess that fondness transferred over to me.

Once we all moved the States — everyone pretty much got lost in transit and we didn’t re-connect until years later — after we had graduated from college — and settled in our various locations of interests.

The one girl — who was now a woman — who treated me like a sister — stopped by to see my mother who was visiting from Nigeria — like she periodically did in those days. We were so excited to see one another — after so long and the reunion was extra special because she was inviting us to her wedding the following summer.

I went to the wedding and represented the family — and when I arrived in Denver— the afternoon skies were a brilliant blue — and by the time I had picked up my luggage — it was pitch dark dark outside.

It started hailing and I was fascinated by the speed with which the weather had shifted gears. Then all of a sudden — the skies parted and the sun changed the game. And then he walked towards me and I swear the rays highlighted his presence.

He was supremely gorgeous and I was flushed with desire as I imagined that he was approaching me to give me a huge welcome kiss — before whisking me away to his sedate hideout in Vail.

That would’ve been amazing but in real life he was my friend’s cousin with a sexy British accent who flew all the way from England to attend the wedding of his relative. He smiled back and it was big and encouraging. I was twenty-eight and still not used to handling the unexpected “hot guy” in my midst.

We exchanged pleasantries and learned a little bit about each other before our ride showed up and hurriedly escorted us to her car. I remember walking fast with a smile in my heart as I noted that he was only a couple of years older. Also — if things really started to progress as quickly as I forecasted — I was absolutely ready to manifest my fantasy of living in England.

Well — obviously that was a mighty long time ago — because not only do I no longer harbor any aspirations to make a permanent move to England — but I’m recalling an event that was resurrected due to unfortunate circumstances.

I just found out that the father of my crush — from long ago — has died.

The wedding festivities were lovely — except for the hail the morning of — which created a fantastical element that heightened the rest of the day and night. The guy who forced me to make frequent bathroom breaks to talk to myself and gleefully touch up my face as I fantasized about the things that never transpired — never contacted me after we went out separate ways.

I was dating someone when I met him and I kept on dating months after the meeting — but I became creepily obsessed with the “hot guy” who didn’t feel the same way.

Everyone knew about my crush which was a crushing blow — because to be publicly rejected is the epitome of embarrassment. My friends tried to console me with scenarios that could explain why he wasn’t even interested in pursing a friendship — after the great time we had.

Maybe he was already in love with someone else and didn’t want to hurt my feelings since I was obviously very taken by him. Or maybe he was reserved because of the very long distance between us — and didn’t think it would be worth pursuing something that didn’t stand a chance of surviving. That could explain why we never kissed or even touched.

I replayed the moments we shared — and maximized the times when he was focused on me. Then I tried to utilize my sleuthing skills in the hopes of retrieving his email address. I found one that matched his name and initials and proceeded to send messages.

I never heard back — but I kept sending them and only stopped after I emailed him the day after 9/11 — three months after we met.

Then the shame of the double rejection threw me into a depression that closed the chapter on my already decaying relationship — and initiated the fear that I could possibly be pathetically unmarried at thirty.

My worst fears were realized and even extended by an additional decade — but this isn’t about being unlucky in love — although I would love to tackle that subject at some point.

I will never know why the guy I thought I could maybe marry — politely took my number and email address and then ended up tossing it. I do know that he was a complete gentleman who was handsome, witty and smart enough to know that I liked him more than he liked me or maybe he liked me just as much — either way — he made the right decision to not start something that was going to end badly.

And now all I want to do is comfort him because at this very moment he’s in pain with the loss of his father and even though I have no idea how close he was to the man that made him — I can’t imagine that he’s not reeling from his sudden death.

I love him even more now — although I’m sure he’s married with semi-grown kids — and is being comforted by the woman he was probably dating when he met me.

As I make peace with how long its been since a anyone made me feel like that girl felt when the clouds parted — and the dashing young man with the big smile walked in slow motion to the rapid beat of my heart — I’m thankfully old enough to proudly bask in the nostalgic pages of unrequited love.

After years of buried memories — it was odd to be overwhelmed by the sad news that once again tied us back to each other.

We were young and beautiful and now we’re older and burying our parents.

In the blink of an eye — our smiles are replaced with scars of piled up years that yield the consequences of living long enough.

He lost his dad and I found him again. And now I know I can still feel love — even if its just in my head.

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