Where Did She Put My Keys?
Behind my bookshelf?
Under my bed?
In my book bag?
In my closet?
Where in the world did that woman put my d*** keys?
I would usually go on for about an hour like this every single time my girlfriend would get upset with me. Steadfast and arrogant, I would never ask her where she had put them. This was her way to show me I was not perfect and I did not know everything. We had been in a relationship for over two years but had been in each others’ eyes for at least triple that amount of time. I will be the first to admit I was not the best boyfriend in the world but I would do my best. In return for all my faults, she would do little annoying things like misplace my keys or, even worse, hiding my cell phone. Sooner or later, I would break my streak of egoism, admit defeat, and ask her where she had hidden it. The object of mystery would always be hidden in an obvious place which I overlooked. Even though my friends mocked me for putting up with her and her high maintenance attitude, it did not bother me much until the day I “grew up.”
For me this experience was equivalent to the day a fifteen-year-old plantation boy in the 1860s was given a rifle and told to go kill some Yankees. But in my case my rifle was armed with harsh, mature words and my target was my girlfriend’s annoying behavior. The next time she hid my keys, I did not bother looking for them. I had grown up and was no longer going to participate in childish games. I told her to stop acting like such a kid and grow up if she ever wanted to speak to me again.
The night after I had informed her of my “profound awakening,” I found myself counting the endless number of dots on the ceiling in the waiting room of INOVA Hospital. It was the only thing I could do to distract myself from the devastating cries of my girlfriend’s parents. Her younger sister was there as well, weeping and asking herself what the last thing she had said to her sister was. I did not have to ask myself the same question. I knew the answer. Instead of enjoying my last moments with her and letting her know how much I loved her, I was too busy trying to transform myself into an adult. I wish someone had told me those were going to be the last moments I would ever get to spend with her. I wish someone had told me it was all right to be a kid and play silly games sometimes. I wish I did not have to go through such a horrific event to learn this lesson. Mostly, I just wish she were still here with me.
While I was anxiously sitting in the waiting room, I realized something I would never forget. It has haunted me for years and I do not believe I will ever forgive myself. I realized in that eerie period of time that I was lashing out at my girlfriend because I was afraid. I was terrified with the fact that our relationship did not mean anything to most people; they blew us off as another short-lived high school couple. I wanted to show the world that we were different, we were mature for our age and we were ready to spend the rest of our lives together. Unfortunately, life did not give us that chance.
For me there are sometimes thoughts about what could have happened if she were still here. Would we still be together or would we have gone our separate way after we truly did “grow up”? I like to think that we would still be together. She would probably have stopped hiding my keys and phone unless I had done something really bad. My friends would eventually have come to like her after they got to know her. Perhaps though, we would have broken up. How the future would have been if she were still alive is unknown, but the future did not play out as I wanted it to. I never did have to listen to my friends’ gossip about her again; instead all I heard were their grievances: “I’m so sorry for your loss, be strong.”
She really did help me “grow up.” I realized that I did not know what the future had in store and just how short life could be. All I could do was spend the time that I had letting the people I loved know how much I cared for them, in spite of their faults.
The following Sunday, I placed my keys on her casket and wished her goodbye. Months have passed but, every now and then, when I misplace something, for just a second, I smile and I think to myself, she’s at it again.