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Love Stories of Hawaii

Second Chance Love

Jim and Niki Hart
Dedicated to the man of my life, Jim

Submitted by Niki

The summer I was 16 years old, I dated a guy named Mike. He was a few years older than I, and although I thought he was really a great guy, after a few dates we agreed there was no chemistry between us. Mike told me he had a friend that he thought I might like, and would I care to meet him? Mike drove me to the house where his friend Jim was roofing, and I was nervous when I looked up at this tan, blonde haired, blue-eyed magnificent man. What a shock when I realized he was shy and soft spoken and not at all vain! My heart was pounding like crazy, and I wondered what was wrong with me. I did not know about love at first sight, and it was later that I realized that is what it was. We had two dates, and although we spent very little money, we had so much fun. We had similar interests, he had a great sense of humor, and was so gentle and a genuinely good person. On our second date Jim told me he had already joined the Army since he was sure he was going to be drafted any day. I was crushed and scared, as I already knew our boys were going to Viet Nam and dying or coming home broken. I put on a brave face, and wrote to him while he was in basic training, and later when he went to medical school and paratrooper training. My mind was screaming NO NO NO as I thought he had a death wish, taking medic training and paratrooper training and then engineering. The daily news was announcing our casualty lists like weather reports, saying things like "In Viet Nam today, 53 men were killed, 112 were injured, and 8 men reported missing in action." The letters Jim wrote me were so sweet, but so full of stories of building a mock Viet Cong Village and tunnels and on knowing he was not going to die. I was so young and so immature that it soon became hard for me to ignore the writing and not read the fear and the worry between the lines. This made my letters get farther and farther apart How could I write what I did in school today when the Army was training him to kill or be killed, and those awful news reports were on every night? Eventually, Jim wrote me a letter that said he was sure I had found someone else, and not to write him back as he would tear up my letter. I was crushed, and my mother advised me to write back as if I never got that letter. I did not take her advice and did not write again. I spent the next three years wondering about him. Was he alive? Was he home? My mother re-married and moved us to another state, so I could not even drive by his house or go see his Mom to find out After graduation, I met and married a man that physically resembled Jim but was nothing like him inside and spent three years married to him. When we divorced, I moved back to Amarillo and went to Mike's house to find out about Jim. Mike was not sure Jim would want to see me, or how he felt about it, so I let the situation alone. One afternoon I was doing laundry in the apartment laundry room and I heard a soft voice say, "What are you doing here?" There he was, and just the way I remembered. My heart did those same little jumps and I told him I was doing laundry. Several months later, he convinced me to marry him, and we have been so happy. The only thing lacking in our marriage is that we never got to take the honeymoon in Hawaii we could have had if I had only been more mature and written back as my mother advised.

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