She was walking at her usual pace one summer at the University. It was the perfect temperature which is why she loved it there. It was his first day there. He is usually a quiet guy. When their eyes locked he could do nothing but freeze. When she got close enough, a power overcame him and moved his lips to say “Hello.”
“Hi,” she replied.
Lost for words, the boy just smiled.
“Are you here for the science exhibit?” she asked.
“Yes, in fact I am.”
As all young people do when they feel excited, Lilly and Adam both jumped to the conclusion that they would be together some day.
“Do you study here?” He asked.
“Something like that,” said Lilly.
“I hope to see you around” said Adam.
“I’m sure you will,” she replied with a smile that radiated from her whole body.
Two days passed and Adam noticed Lilly sitting down at the cafeteria. He walked up, shaking with nerves and said “remember me?”
“Of course I do,” said Lilly.
“I’d like to hike that hill.” Said Adam pointing towards the mountain behind the school.
“It’s a beautiful hike.” She said.
“Will you join me?”
“I’d love to,” said Lilly.
They agreed to meet at the base of the mountain after dinner that night. When they first laid eyes on each other that evening, their hearts wouldn’t rather be anywhere else. As with all matters of the heart, the priorities that the mind had set out had been forgotten.
“How long are you all here for?” Asked Lilly.
“I go back to South Africa in eleven days.”
“Wow, that’s a long time to spend in Colorado.”
“It is, but sometimes I wish it was longer.” Said Adam.
“I know that feeling all too well,” said Lilly.
“Indeed. This vacation called ‘life’ is too short.”
“Is it too short or are we too greedy?” She said jokingly. As they laughed, their hands brushed for a brief moment. This brush sent an electrical jolt up both of their spines.
Their conversation that night ranged from every topic including their dreams and hopes for adult life. Lilly was a ballet dancer, which she studied full time at school. Her grace wasn’t only contained in her movements but also in her personality. To Adam, it seemed that every word she said and every expression she made was perfectly choreographed.
When they eventually reached the lookout point they were humbled. The view reminded them of how small they were. They could hear the rattling of snakes in the background but that didn’t frighten them because had they been bitten in that moment, they would have been content with their life. While resting on the mountainside, Lilly took out her phone to play some of her favorite music. Adam had never heard any of the songs before but he felt as if they were written for him. The same thing happened to Lilly when Adam shared his favorite music. This night was serene. The view from the lookout paired with the vibration of young love was enough to make life worth living. At the end of the night they kissed and regretted nothing.
A few days passed and they spent as much time together that they could but it wasn’t enough. The times that they did spend together were usually the same hike, the same music and the same feeling of ecstasy. On a few occasions, Lilly invited Adam up to her dorm where they experienced each other in ways that most couples have not experienced in years, and they had only known each other for a few days. With five days left before he had to leave, Adam asked Lilly “will you be my girlfriend?”
“Yes,” she said. Knowing that the relationship would last less than a week.
They spoke about it multiple times – the fact that they were boyfriend and girlfriend for a set amount of time. The biggest lesson this taught them was to enjoy each moment because in reality, you never know when anything will end.
Although they never had sex, Lilly and Adam experienced each other sexually in ways that they didn’t know existed. They brought each other orgasms in every way other than sex. When Lilly offered Adam a condom, he refused it. “Why bother with sex when we can have so much fun doing other things.” He said.
When Lilly heard Adam’s response, her perception of herself changed. You see, through her whole life she always thought that sex was the most intimate type of experience. After experiencing Adam, she knew that it wasn’t. Their relationship defied conventional wisdom.
When it came time for Adam to leave, they exchanged gifts which included handwritten notes, mixtapes and Adam left Lilly with her favorite pair of his pajama pants. Their parting expression was “I don’t know if I’ll ever find someone like you. I don’t know if I want to. All that I do know is this: I would not change the past eleven days if I could.”
As physical distance grew between them, Adam tried to keep in touch. He sent letters with no reply. One day, her roommate returned his letter saying she moved home with her patents and gave him their address. Adam sent her Valentine’s Day gifts and birthday presents. He had trouble letting go of the past. He planned to move closer to her whenever possible.
One day, Adam received a letter in the mail with the return address of Lilly’s parents on it. When he opened the letter, it was written by Lilly’s mother.
“Lilly wanted me to send you this letter. I couldn’t find it in me to do so until now. I won’t say anything other than I am sorry.”
Enclosed in the envelope was another letter addressed to Adam. It read “Adam, you will never know how much you actually meant to me. You showed me how beautiful life could be and in one week you gave me the greatest gift I could have asked for. You showed me love and compressed a life time of companionship into eleven days. I will never forget those days in Colorado. When we were together, there is one thing I never mentioned to you. Three months before you and I met, I was told that there are tumors in my pancreas and I had about five months to live. By the time we found them, they had spread all throughout my body. There was no treatment that could help. They would have only given me an extra few months of agony. I chose not to do it. My family couldn’t have afforded it anyway. By the time you read this letter, I will most likely be dead. That being said, I hope you will hold me in your heart because that is where I consider heaven to be. I want you to know, you are in my heart and I hope it feels like heaven to you.
Adam, I love you. Thank you for showing me life.”
Adam sat down in his living room with a feeling of agony making its way through his body. The story he told himself of the years that they would spend together was just that, a story. It was a shelter he built to keep himself safe. This letter was the invitation to break out of that cocoon and in his case, Adam had no choice.
Some say that “the wound is where the light enters,” and Adam knew this quote very well. But the only hard part about this is that the heart cannot be convinced by the head to feel better. Adam knew this was life’s way of teaching him non-attachment. But life is the only teacher who is allowed to teach with such force. And life’s lessons are not forgotten.
Looking back at his time with Lilly, Adam couldn’t help but remember one thing: if you learn to enjoy the present moment, it’s impossible to fear the future because you will always have memories to comfort you. And moving forward through life, Adam did not cease to make more memories. He never met another Lilly, but found a unique thing to love in everyone he came into contact with.
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