My Three Loves
by Jim Low
copyright 1999

Teenagers, summer, and a cottage is the recipe for a lifetime of wonderful memories of youth enjoying life and love.  It was during such a summer, long ago, when I met my first love.  She was a shy sixteen and I but a year older.

Of course, Norma, you never knew of my love, for I was too shy to express my deep feelings.  I savoured those times you joined us in group swims from the old raft, building castles in the sand, sing-songs around the beach fire, and exploring the heavens by night through my little telescope.  When sharing our tender small talk my heart felt a little lighter and beat a little faster.  We shared two wonderful summers.  You were in one cottage, and I in the one across the sandy path leading to the beach where we met each day.  We were never together alone, but we were always together in my heart.  Some day, I thought, I would tell you of my love.  I never knew how you felt about me.  Two wonderful summers were shared secretly with you.  We were never to meet again.  Shyness stole my love away.

If only I had...

But, I didn't.

Many years passed before I met my second love.  Her caring and giving made her irresistible.  As a single mother, she faced challenges that made her strong.  She and her two young daughters brought joy to my heart.  I felt alive with love.  At first, my love for her was secret.  But then, I thought of my first love.  Would I let shyness steal away another love?  I took a risk.  I expressed my feelings of love for her.  How lucky was I that she took me as her husband and father to her daughters.  Our love flourished, and we added two sons to our blessed family.  She and I nourished each other in our dreams, work, and play.

For years, our family grew.  But I grew most of all.  Immense happiness I felt, sharing with my love as we watched and guided our children through their early life:  the camping, the birthdays, the playful games on the street and in the back lane.  Toys scattered about our home and yard was our beautiful decor.  Both the sounds of laughter and the sight of tears brought joy to my heart.  The "family room" was the kitchen where my love, our children, and all their friends would gather as the rich aroma of fresh baking beckoned welcome and happiness to all.

It was a sad and painful day when my love said we must part and go our separate ways.  But even through my feelings of pain, I asked myself:  "Would I do it again?"  There was no doubt.  The answer was "yes."  Those years of joy and growth with my love and our children was worth any pain.  For through the pain, love still continues.  My children are grown: children I would not now have had I not shown my love.  Hardly a day goes by when at least one of my children doesn't call.  Great joy and happiness fills my heart when my daughter asks "can we meet for dinner tonight?"  My children are adults.  We are equals.  We are friends, and communicate our love for each other.  Love continues through my second love even though she is lost to me.  Yes, a lost love, but a love that was expressed and known.

It was during my early days of despair following separation from my second love when I met my third love.  Oh, of course, I didn't know it at the time.  She, too, was going through the same separation pain from a love.  Together, we lifted each other out of pain as we became "just friends."  We enjoyed chatting over many meals.  We talked and laughed as we strolled along the boardwalk.  For almost four years, we shared our feelings - our pains and our joys - by conversing almost daily.  She taught me to be bold and to take risks.  She encouraged me to follow my dreams.  "Just do it and have no regrets" she said.  We were always seen together by mutual friends.  Everyone assumed we were "a couple."  But they were wrong.  We were "just friends."

No!  We were not "just friends."  We were very special friends.  How can a man and woman share so much together and not develop a special relationship?  One day, without warning, I knew this woman was my third love.  I was ready.  I had to express my love for her.  But, there was risk.  What if she were not ready to share my love?  The time had come to expose myself.  I expressed my love for her.  Alas, she was not ready for a new adventure with me.  But, no matter, for I shared my deepest feelings with her.  My soul is free, for now I know my feelings will never again be withheld.  She will always know of my love.  I did it - and have no regrets.

Of my three loves, which was the most painful to lose?  Not my most recent, for even though my love was declined, it was honestly expressed and is known.  Our time spent together as "just friends" will be cherished forever.  Nor the love of my marriage where love flourished for a time only to die in her heart, for I gained four wonderful children where love continues to grow.  In both these loves, I know and live the outcome.

The most painful love lost was the first.  For it was a love never expressed.  She never knew.  The "what if?" question still torments my mind.  How would things have turned out had I expressed my love?  The pain of never knowing is the most difficult pain to endure.  Norma, if you are out there, please call.  There is something I want to tell you.

Fear not to love.  Fear not to express love.

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