Thea today, writing from the grandbaby’s house where I’m caretaking him for the next few weeks, and I’m still crazy in love — even after 15 months. Which feeds into the next momentous month in which John and I celebrate our 47th anniversary. It’s kind of staggering to think it’s been that many years. But even more so, how we met, about two years before that, just after he’d just graduated college and we separately both attended to a party at the home of my friend Sharon in Newark, NJ.
I like to think ours was a grand love story, but maybe, because we were an interfaith couple (no small thing back then), it was more about rebellion. Or our just being together and figuring all of it out as we went.
Cut to ten years later. We were living in Brooklyn. I was pregnant out to the there with my eldest son. We were at a performance of Trelawny of the Wells at Lincoln Center. In the break between the first and second act, we were milling in the lobby, and a woman approached me. “Is your name Thea?”
I said yes. She told me her name and asked if I remembered her. I did. She was a friend Sharon’s and we’d hung out several times, no more than that, back in the days after that party at Sharon’s house. But I hadn’t seen her in more than ten years, and I’d not been in contact with Sharon either after John and I married.
She said, “Sharon is dead.”
Last thing I expected to hear. The words exploded like a bomb, chilling me to the bone. Sharon had died of complications of Type 1 diabetes. She couldn’t have been more than 35 years old.
“I thought you should know,” she said And then she was gone, leaving me devastated. And I couldn’t find her in the audience or after, and I never saw her again.
I still get chills thinking about it. How did she recognize me after all that time, AND that pregnant?
How did it happen this one night she and I were separately in the audience and she saw me, she knew me — and felt confident enough that I was who she thought I was to approach me? And how could she just disappear, never to be seen again?
I’ve often thought that incident would make a terrific scene in a book. Except for the fact she vanished. In a book, she’d have to return at some point because otherwise the reader would be questioning where she went and what her purpose was. It’s not enough just to have a character deliver bad news and exit right. There has to be some reason, some driving motivation, everything interconnected, all ends tied up.
Fiction is not life. Life is random. That moment at Lincoln Center was random — but was it? It haunts me even after all these years because it all seemed so coincidental — and yet it wasn’t. Still, I wonder … was she an angel sent perhaps by Sharon to tell me I was being watched over? I only recently even considered that. And if so, what signs have I missed all these years not contemplating that possibility? Or was it just a really intriguing idea to springboard a plot for a novel I have yet to write?
Of course that would be my first thought. Wouldn’t it be yours?
Or is there more to it than that?
Still and all, at this anniversary time of the year, I remember Sharon. I can close my eyes and see her just as she was, a pretty red-headed twenty year old, bedeviled but never beaten down by the disease that would take her life. But back then, at that party that night, without knowing it, by inviting John Devine, she gave me my future and my life.
What do you think? Was it a coincidence? Meant to be? An angel? A figment of my imagination? Have you ever had a moment like that?
Thea Devine is the author of 27 erotic historical and contemporary romances, five of which have just been reissued in Kindle editions. and nearly a dozen novellas. She’s been named a Romance Pioneer by Romantic Times, and is currently working on a new erotic contemporary novel.