It was the beginning of June. As usually me and group of my friends decided to go for a trip by a lake. We have all been adults working in completely different sectors. Still, we always tried to meet in the same, unchanged gang. Several times a year at least.
And I, as always, went to this gathering with my boyfriend. We were a couple since high school. We were planning to get married the following year. I was truly happy. I was often wondering whether there is still some love between us, or perhaps a very strong friendship only. Doesn’t matter! What mattered was the fact that I couldn’t even imagine to start living without him. Besides, all my doubts were disappearing as quickly as they were appearing. These were thoughts torturing all future brides.
“Hey Sue, how are you?!” I heard a joyful welcome by my friend Lena.
“All is well. Except the weather, it could be bloody colder. It’s so hot in here.” I answered, fanning my face with a newspaper.
“Come on, everybody’s inside. And we won’t start without you two for sure.” Lena kissed me on the chick and dashed back to other folks who had already started to fire up the barbecue.
“I love this place. Before the season, of course. It is so quiet and silent here.” I whispered to Milosz, planting a juicy kiss on his lips.
He just smiled, holding his sunglasses above his forehead. Then went over to the car’s boot for a beer and sausages.
The early afternoon was really marvelous. Everybody had a lot of stories to tell after so many months of separation. Lena was studying at the other end of the country. Magda broke up with her boyfriend again, but this time she promised to herself that she won’t come back to him. She wanted to start conquering the world. Mateusz still didn’t know what to do with his life. He wanted to form a band which will hit a big success. Everyone was supporting him, but we were all convinced that he should finally start thinking about the future. Karol did not have any big ambitions, just wanted to inherit the business from his father. Besides, why would he want to exert himself? He had the best starting point of us all. And we? We were preparing for the wedding. Nothing special, for me at least. Yet, during our meetings it seemed the hottest topic for everyone. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when we were flooded with questions: what dress will I wear, what will be served during the wedding, do I have any photographer…
“Hey, boys, we are running out of beer.” Miłosz wanted to wriggle out of these difficult wedding questions.
“It is a pity we don’t have vodka, we could practice ‘Kiss the bride’ game.” Mateusz whistled.
“A swim for refreshment perhaps?” After few beers Karol was always showing his less well-behaved face.
“You must be kidding, the water is still too cold.” I squealed.
“I’ll do everything for you, babe.” I will prove you that I will fumble through the ordeal of freezing water.” Miłosz was quick to give shape to his idea and instantly removed his shoes.
“Stop it! You have drunk several beers. This is not the best idea!” I got irritated even more.
“Sue, if you’re going to nag him like this, maybe he should change his mind.” My friends started to make stinging remarks.
“Well, do whatever you want, I do not want to look at this!” I went back to the forest. I could still hear Miłosz chanting; he was making funny faces before jumping to water. Then he ran across the jetty and disappeared under the water surface.
I looked around. My friends were whistling and screaming, all delighted with Miłosz’s performance. But I kept looking at the water surface close to the jetty, and still couldn’t see him. I became hot.
Everything lasted for several hours. Perhaps even several dozen of hours? Boys jumped to water after him and started to reanimate him. Someone called for an ambulance. We went to the hospital. The doctor took him to the operating theatre. This was like a bad dream. This couldn’t be true.
Doctor told us that the only thing we can do now is to wait. No more and no less. Miłosz remained unconscious. There was a risk of paralysis.
After several weeks a phone with an unknown number called me.
“Miłosz woke up, please arrive at the hospital as soon as possible.” I heard the nurse’s voice.
I arrived there in less than an hour.
“Miłosz…” I whispered.
A pale, immobile boy was looking at me.
“Sue… You’re here…” He whispered with a relief. “I’m sorry for everything.” I spoiled it all.” I noticed a tear rolling down his cheek.
“Hush… Do not say anything. I will stay by you, just rest.” Miłosz, soothed, closed his eyes and fell asleep.
I was close to him, but I didn’t know if I can cope with this. I felt a terrible fear that I won’t make it. I screamed in pain so many times that it shouldn’t be like this. It was unfair. Everybody was counting on me. I was his fiancée. Nobody, even for a moment, thought about my feelings. Nobody would dare to think that I will stop loving him, get cold feet and just run away.
There were moments, when I felt overwhelmed and just wanted to run away. But I felt an obligation to stay close to him. Now he was awake. And I was scared instead of being happy.
Days were passing faster and faster. I was visiting Miłosz at hospital every day after my work. Sometimes, these were automatic visits. Finally, one day, I said to myself that I need to leave for a while. Miłosz tried not to show that he is aware of my lies. Instead, he perfectly pretended to be understanding.
Unfortunately, I did not escape from this situation. Every day I was thinking what to do. Run away and blame myself until the end of my life? Or perhaps I should rather stay, not knowing if I am doing the good thing also.
When I came back, I went to the hospital immediately. I was still afraid of an honest conversation. But Miłosz was already prepared for it.
“Sue, don’t you think we should postpone the wedding? You know, I would really like to dance on my own wedding.” He started jokingly.
“In my opinion you should fully recover.” I answered evasively and smiled right on cue. “So, for when? For when do you want to rearrange the wedding?” I swallowed in my dry throat.
“Don’t know, maybe for never?” His face grown a little sad.
I wasn’t able to utter anything. This was my only approval.
“Sue… I know that you are getting tired. I thought this through when you weren’t here. I love you, but I don’t want you to be unhappy with me.” Miłosz sad it very bluntly for a change.
“I want you to know that I will not be mad with you, if you decide to walk away. Besides, I put you in an awkward position. To do such a stupid thing before the wedding.” He tried to make a joke again.
“Miłosz, it’s not like this. I mean, I don’t know what to answer.” I felt my cheeks were burning with shame. “Everyone was expecting me to be fully ready, to be close to you. Nobody ever asked how I was coping with the situation. I am an egoist, I know. But I am overwhelmed with all of this. I fail to manage it. I am afraid of walking away, and I’m afraid of staying. I don’t know what I want.” I burst out crying for good.
“Sue… let’s make an arrangement. I thought this through.” Miłosz looked at me with his warm eyes.
“What arrangement, what are you talking about?” I whispered, terrified.
“We will both recover”. He continued. “I will stand up on my feet, and you will find your happiness. We will support each other, even when we stop seeing each other. I know that you want my happiness and I want yours. Let’s not worry to death about the future. Let us live here and now. It was a difficult time for both of us. Take a rest and later we should go about our own businesses. Remember that you are most important for us.”
These were most difficult and wisest words I could hear. We remained close to each other, kept supporting ourselves, but we both went our separate ways. After some time Miłosz thrown his wheelchair aside and started to walk on crutches. At the hospital he met a girl with whom she is until today. I also understood that it wasn’t true love. But now I am really happy. I met Ksawery and had no second thought when he asked me to marry him and when we were planning the wedding. And if something happened to him. I would be the first person to stay by him. Totally out of my own will, without this feeling of duty. You just feel it.