It was a bright day, a warm summery day, and we stood together looking out at the river. Just talking. Not about anything in particular.
We were friends, and had been for awhile. He was the best friend I’d found since my college days—making friends outside of a school setting was a trick which had eluded me until I met him. He’d listened to my ranting and dried my tears about the breakup of my marriage, helped me talk through some things, helped me focus myself again on the future and its bright possibilities. I’d listened to his hopes and dreams, been his sounding board, encouraged him to do things he hadn’t known he could do.
Friends. Very close friends. Best friends, as little kids say.
That day by the river, that sunny day, I hugged him. He’d been telling me of his grandfather who had died, and he looked sad and lonely. So it was perfectly natural to hug him, to comfort him.
He seemed surprised, his body language unsure at first. Uncomfortable. He relaxed into the hug, though, and his arms wrapped close around me. We held each other softly, each very careful of the other.
We pulled back a little, looked at each other with some surprise. We’d never done much in the way of touching, you see. Our friendship was based on words and stories, very cerebral, very platonic. So we surprised each other with that warm hug.
Even more than surprise, though, even more than that shock in his green eyes, I saw something else. I saw need, I saw fear, and I saw love. And we were both trembling, wondering what to do, how to proceed, each desperately afraid of hurting the other and each desperately wanting to act.
Slowly, in a moment that seemed to last forever, we pulled close again. A last second of indecision, followed by a decision to trust, to take my chance with the love I saw reflected in his eyes and had seen so much in the tenderness of his friendship. One last breath, and our lips met in a gentle kiss, a kiss of perfect sweetness and perfect love.
I’m not sure if I can say with any certainty who kissed whom first, or which of us was more surprised as we drew back and looked at each other in utter amazement. I do know that we pulled each other close again, kissed again, realizing now the truth neither of us had been able to see.
In that kiss, that sweet, soft kiss, my entire world changed. With that kiss I realized that somewhere along the way, some time when I was not expecting it, some time when I was not paying attention but only trying to focus on rebuilding my life, I had fallen hopelessly, deeply in love with my best friend. With the truth of that kiss, I knew deep inside my soul that nothing would ever be the same again.
I love you, my Tirithien. :-)