After we graduated, Hannah and I didn’t see much of each other. We both worked forty hours a week, and we just didn’t have much time for each other. I worked at the grocery store near my house, and Hannah worked as a waitress at a local diner that her uncle owned, mostly until 11:00 at night, and sometimes later. We hardly went out together anymore, maybe four or five dates all summer. And when I went to visit her at her work, she was always too busy to say anything more than hello. We talked on the telephone now and then, but certainly not like we used to. We used to talk for hours on the phone, and that always caused a lot of fights between my siblings and me.
And then the summer was just about over.
Before she left for college one depressing Saturday morning, I helped her pack her parents’ car. I drew a heart in the late August dew on the car window.
“I’m gonna miss you, Biff,” she said, writing our initials in the heart.
“Me too,” I said. “I wish I was going with you. We hardly got to spend any time together this summer, and now you’re going away.”
“I know,” she said, exaggerating a frown. “I’m so sad.”
I kissed her once on her sweet lips.
“C’mon, Hannah,” her father said, interrupting our moment together. “Let’s get going.”
We promised to write to each other, and I promised that I would “wait for her,” much to her parents’ dismay.
A month earlier Hannah and her family went to an orientation at her college. They left Friday morning and they didn’t get home until Sunday night. So Mr. Zimmerman was no stranger to the route to Maryland, and I think I remember that he was to return home that same evening.
When she was all ready to go, she hugged and kissed her mother and brothers. And then she turned to me. I hugged her and kissed her goodbye on the lips. And then, with one last wave to her mother, brothers and me, she was off to Maryland.
Hannah was crying as they drove away. I could have cried too, but I didn’t.
And little did I know, that that would be the last time I would ever see “Hannah Blue Eyes.”
We wrote back and forth for the first couple of months. I included the usual stuff: How’s school? How’s your roommate? How’s the weather there? Etc. Then, about the end of October, I received a letter from her that was very short, which was very uncharacteristic of her. Usually her letters were long and she told me about everything that she was doing. I figured that she was just very busy and that the next letter from her would be the kind I was used to.
But I never got anymore.
I wrote her four or five more letters, but I didn’t receive any response from her at all. I tried again and again, writing something like, “Please let me know if you receive this letter,” but she never wrote back to me. I didn’t know what was wrong. Maybe she was hurt or had to go somewhere. I wanted to call her parents, but I was sure that they wouldn’t help me at all. And I hoped that if something had happened to her, they would have let me know.
Then I resorted to calling her school on at least three separate occasions to try to get her phone number if she had one. If she did have one, we never made any arrangements to call each other, due to the pricey long distance charges. I was told that unless I was a family member, they couldn’t give me any details. Then I told the person who took my calls to leave a message for her and ask her to get in touch with me.
But I never heard from her.
Then, I stopped calling and writing to her. I didn’t want to stop, but what was the use? Plus, I wasn’t even sure if she was receiving my messages or letters. Perhaps there was a problem at the college mailroom.
A million things went through my head: “What did I do wrong?” “Is she seeing another guy?” “Did her parents tell her some lies about me?” “Is it because of her religion or my religion?” I don’t know what happened. I suspect that there was probably another guy in her life, but I didn’t know for sure. And I knew that she wasn’t the kind of girl who would do something like that to me, to us, or she would at least break up with me if she felt she needed to.
I kept all of this from my family and friends. When asked how Hannah was doing, I always said that she was doing well. But my mother suspected something was up when she hadn’t seen any letters from her in the mail, and I told her that she was too busy to keep writing to me.
At Thanksgiving time, I knew that she would be home, and I hoped for a phone call from her. It never came. Finally, I borrowed the car and went to her house on the day after Thanksgiving. I figured that she would be home at least until Sunday.
When I arrived, I was in shock. There were no cars in the driveway and a “For Sale” sign was on the front lawn. I parked the car and went to the front door thinking that maybe somebody was home anyway. As I passed the living room window, however, I saw that the place was empty. They had moved. Hannah never mentioned that they were moving, and I wondered if she even knew.
I looked around and I saw a neighbor watching me. Desperate, I asked if he knew where they went.
“I think they went to Connecticut,” he shouted.
I waved a thank you, got in the car and went home.
I didn’t know what to do. I was hurt and confused. Finally, I went to my mother and told her the whole story. My heart was broken, and for the first time in years, I cried. My mom held me like she used to when I was a child, and her shoulder quickly became damp with my tears.
After all of these years, I never found out what became of Hannah. I still think about her now and then, sometimes once or twice a week, sometimes once or twice a day, and sometimes more. In my mind, she’s still that cute, blue-eyed 17-year-old with that beautiful, reddish-brown hair. I can still see that great smile and those big dimples of hers, and I can still see her crying and waving goodbye to me.
It still hurts. I thought everything was fine between us, and then, poof! … she was gone. What bothers me just the same is that I don’t think that I ever told her that I loved her. Perhaps I said it in a letter, but I don’t think I ever said it to her face-to-face, or eye-to-eye, or cheek-to-cheek.
Like a book that fell apart in the wind, the last chapter is forever lost.
© 2011 Biff Remington, Model Citizen - 9/18/11
Hannah, circa 1977