Would have, could have, should have. We all have moments in our lives where we look back sometimes and wonder, if I only did this or that, would things have been different? Better?
That’s what “Lisa” wondered about her “perfect” relationship with a Chinese man she met in the US (a fellow who, incidentally, joined the US Army after 9/11 and while he was still a Chinese citizen). Their romance suddenly unraveled after tragedy struck during her stay with him in Texas. Read on for the entire story, and my thanks to Lisa for sharing.
I met a Chinese man while I was living in California and he was visiting from New York. He had moved from Northern China to the US when he was 15, and held a job in sports management. We came to find we had so much in common with each other. Our favorite sports teams were the same, and we shared the same life goals and values. He even related well with my family.
As we continued talking to one another over the phone, I came to understand he had a troubled life because of a tumultuous past marriage that later left him a widower. He felt guilty about the relationship he had with his lost wife and as a result pushed good people out of his life. He also had trouble sleeping at night, which I had noticed.
One day, he was given the opportunity to move to Texas for a job transfer — an opportunity that meant we could live together eventually. It was the first time a man ever spoke to me about marriage. Five weeks later I came to Texas to visit with him for two days. We had a great time together. His parents loved me even though their English was limited. He told me that they were just happy that he had found someone he cared about and made him happy. I honestly believe they thought I would be a future daughter-in-law. Everything was perfect.
On my last night there, it was raining outside. His dad wasn’t feeling well, but he still drove to work that night. Unfortunately, he got into a horrible car accident that was his fault, which we learned when he called us. We dealt with the insurance claim since our English was better. Later that night, when we picked up his mother from work around midnight and told her what happened, she mentioned that her dentist had passed away that day. So much tragedy in one day. I felt so guilty. If we hadn’t been out that day visiting the city, maybe we could have convinced his father to stay home?
Still, that night his mother told me how happy she was to know me. She then gave me a lot of her clothes to wear, and had me try on everything. I flew home the next day and everything still seemed okay. I received a text from him telling me he couldn’t wait to talk later when I arrived home, and that he was still working with his father to deal with the insurance claim.
I landed three hours later and called him, only to discover his attitude had changed completely. He seemed frustrated and wouldn’t tell me anything. I was so confused, and every call became shorter and shorter. One day later, he sent me a text stating he didn’t want to speak to me or anyone. I just didn’t know what to do.
Then I did something really impulsive. I flew to Texas one week later to confront him because I felt like I needed answers. Finally, he told me what happened in a text. His family lost a lot of money from the accident, and he wanted to end our relationship because he had to worry about his family.
I stayed in a hotel that weekend, and he came to visit me there once to give me some money for the plane. He looked defeated as he sat down on the bed. He wouldn’t look me in the eye when he explained what happened, and said I deserved better. I yelled at him and told him not to tell me how to think. But he said it wouldn’t be right to keep me in the relationship during that time. He didn’t want me to wait for him because he didn’t know when he would be ready for me. He sacrificed himself because he wanted me to have a better life with someone else. There was so much guilt and shame in his face. I never saw anything like this. I took out his army tags that he had given me and he told me he wanted to keep them (I still have them to this day). He suggested what to order on the hotel menu and turned on the TV. Then he kissed me and I told him for the first time that I loved him. Before he left, he held me and kissed me again. He said quietly that he wanted to make it work.
I was forced to go back home without him. I felt horrible and alone. I thought about it every day and just didn’t know why he had to leave me over this. It was awful but it wasn’t our problem. I think I was even angry at him for ending something so beautiful. He moved to Texas without me. And from what I have heard about him he hasn’t tried to make a life for himself there and instead lives like a hermit. I heard from a friend that he tried dating but nothing ever worked out. Since moving he has closed up. He told me that once he ends things, it is over. There is no chance he would come around even if he still loved me.
I’ll always wonder what might have happened between us, had his dad not gone to work that night.
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