To Have Loved...

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Coffee Date

Brayden took me out for dinner the night I finished my internship to celebrate a new beginning in my career. We went to nice restaurant in the heart of downtown. It was really nice and I enjoyed myself all night.

He spent the weekend with me since we only had a couple weekends left together before I went back to North Dakota. I was going to leave right before Christmas if everything worked out the way I planned, which was just over two weeks away.

While I was sitting alone the following Monday, I looked around my apartment deciding what to pack up first, but really didn’t have any motivation at the moment. I started going through apps on my phone and opened up my messages after seeing a text from Mom congratulating me and asking when I was heading home.

I stopped by Ian’s last texts that he sent me back in October, to which I still never replied. “This might be my last chance to see him…what can it hurt?” I thought to myself.

“Hey Ian, it’s Sarah. Yes, this is still my number and I’m sorry I didn’t reply sooner…”

“Are you still wanting to go out for coffee one day? I’m in town for a couple more weeks and would love to see you again…”

“Message me back if you want…”

I sent him a few messages and waited to see if he would write back, but he didn’t. I played around on my phone for a little while and then turned on TV to watch the game shows. I know it’s not much of a life, but I had nothing better to do at this time.

After eating lunch, my phone rang and I noticed it was a North Dakota phone number.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Hello, may I speak with Sarah Bishop please?”

“This is Sarah,”

“Hello Ms. Bishop, this is Valerie the human resource officer at Sanford Medical Center and I just had a few follow up questions after your last phone interview if you have time.”

“Of course, now is a great time.”

“Our team was excited after the full interview and would love to have music therapy added to our services provided. Being fresh out of college, how confident are you in the development of this new program here in Bismarck?”

“Of course this will be a new opportunity for the both of us, but I spent a lot hours working with a team of therapists in nearly every area of the hospital where I interned and was able to write down guidelines, procedures and develop interventions in each area. I am very confident in starting a new program, even if we started in one area and branched out from there.”

“If we were to start in one area and expand, where would you see the program beginning and why?”

“I did a lot of research on the Medical Center and think the best place to start would be on the children’s floor. There are many reasons I chose this to start, but some of them include easing the fear of being in a hospital; assisting with pain relief; providing an opportunity for self-expression and stress reduction, depending on the ages of the children and for their families.”

“Thank you. Since you have researched our center, I know you are aware of the variety of patients we serve from surgical patients to behavioral health. As the program would expand, is there any area that wouldn’t benefit for your services?”

“Music therapy could benefit every area, but may not be the most effective for every patient. There would still need to be referrals made, assessments completed and treatment plans created based on individual needs, but most definitely could be used throughout the Center and external clinics as the program grew.”

“Those were the additional questions we wanted to ask. I have a few members of the team sitting with me and they are asking me to offer you a position here at Sanford starting the first Monday in January if you are interested in accepting.”

“Absolutely,” I said excitedly, “I will accept the offer and can definitely start then.”

“Wonderful. I will send you some paperwork through your email that will include a starting salary; hours to start with, however, you will be able to flex those as the program gets underway; some forms for payroll and the employee handbook. We will require a drug screen and TB test within the first week since we know you are still out of state. Do you have any questions for me?”

“Not at this time, but I definitely call or email you if anything comes up. Thank you for this opportunity and I look forward to working at Sanford and with the team.”

“We look forward to working with you as well. Welcome to the team! Have a wonderful day and we will see you next year.”

“Thank you and see you next year!” I hung up the phone and screamed in excitement!

I quickly sent a text to Mom and Stacy and told them the good news and both replied saying they were happy for me. I told Mom I would be home just before Christmas, but I was looking for an apartment to move into as soon as I could.

I then grabbed my laptop and searched for an apartment in Bismarck and found a couple of nice ones that were in my price range. I called a couple of them, but they weren’t available right away. The third one I called up did have an opening on January 1st and we talked about what it would take for me to apply.

He emailed me all the paperwork and several pictures of the apartment that was currently available. I looked at them and really liked what I saw so I started filling out the paperwork and returned them. I had the money for the deposit and first month’s rent, so it was just a matter of getting approved.

Yes, I know I should have had something set sooner than this, but I was so busy that I didn’t think about it. I could always stay with my parents until I found something. Also, I kind of wanted to wait until I got the job officially.

I received the email from Sanford and printed everything I needed to fill out and reviewed the hours and salary. It was a reasonable offer since I was new to the field and we were in a moderate income location. I would start by working 8:30 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, with occasional evenings and weekends depending on my caseload or needs of the patients.

After sending everything back, I sat back on my couch and just enjoyed the moment. I was now a career woman and couldn’t be any happier.

******

A couple days later while eating breakfast, I heard my phone ding with a new message. I opened up the screen and saw that Ian responded to me.

“Hi Sarah, I was beginning to think you were finally done with me. LOL”

Before I could respond, another text popped up.

“Yes, the offer still stands and I would love to go get coffee with you. Let me know when works best for you.”

“Good morning Ian, I’m free anytime right now; just tell me where and when. Oh, can it just be the two of us?”

“Good morning, I’m glad I caught you. How does Saturday look for you?”

“Saturday looks good and any time.”

“I’ll send you a place we can meet at and a time. And yes, it will just be the two of us.”

“I’ll look forward to hearing back from you and see you on Saturday.”

“See you then…J

There is no backing out now; I guess I’m meeting with Ian on Saturday. I sighed before rereading the messages and finished my breakfast.

My mind was on overdrive the rest of the morning, so I tried calming it down doing what I do best: write a new song. I pulled out my notebook and started pouring out lyrics on a page. I read through it, changed some words, went back to read it again and did this several times until I was satisfied.

I had a melody in my mind, and I pulled out my keyboard and staff paper and started playing what I imagined until I had a basic song. I know it was nowhere near finished, but I was happy with what I had and it helped calm me down. It was a love song about a lost love and the hope to reconnect; I guess my story and my hopes.

******

Saturday morning arrived and I was actually getting nervous as I was getting dressed for the day. Ian had suggested coffee and breakfast around 9:00 at a coffee shop not too far from me.

As I was heading out to my car, I saw Brayden in his window watching me and I waved. He waved back and gave me a small smile. He knew where I was going and he tried to talk me out of it, but I needed to do this even if this was the last time I saw Ian.

I pulled up the coffee shop and took a deep breath before getting out and locking up. I entered the shop and saw Ian sitting in a booth and walked over to him. As I approached the table, he stood up and we gave each other an awkward hug.

“Morning Sarah, thank you for coming,” he started out. “I wasn’t sure if you would actually show up.”

“Morning Ian. Honestly, I wasn’t sure either, but here I am,” I replied with a half smile.

“Good morning, can I get either of you anything to drink or eat?” a waitress came up and asked once we sat down.

“I’d like a French vanilla cappuccino and a Danish please,” I answered.

“I’ll take a coffee, black, and a chocolate muffin,” Ian replied.

“Thank you, I’ll be back with that for you,” she smiled and walked away.

“How are you Sarah?” Ian asked me.

“I’m doing OK; just looking forward to going back home and starting a new job. How about yourself?” I asked him in return.

“I was doing great, but life gets complicated at times. I’ll be fine though. Where is this new job?”

“In Bismarck at Sanford Medical Center; I start right after the new year, so I’m heading home just before Christmas to spend some time with my parents before getting my own place.”

“That’s great; I’m happy for you.”

“Thank you Ian,” I looked up at him with a smile. “So what have you been up to?”

“Well, I finished my degree in Criminal Justice back in May and am currently enrolled in the Police Academy here. I have about three months left and then I’m not sure yet if we are staying here or where we are going.”

“By we, you mean you and Olivia?” I asked him.

“Yes, that is what I mean,” he replied looking down.

“So can I ask how and where you met?”

“We met a couple of years ago at school. A friend of hers introduced us at a party one night and we started dating shortly after that.”

“So when did you decided that she was the one and ask the forever question?” I asked kind of sarcastically.

“After graduation, she kind of pushed me to make a decision on what I wanted for us. She wanted a full commitment, but I was hesitant.”

“So it was either get married or she’d leave you?” I tried not to smirk while asking him that question.

“Yeah, kind of like that,” he sighed.

“So why did you propose if you really weren’t sure about it?”

“Here you both go,” the waitress showed up at that moment and handed us our coffees and food. “Is there anything else I can get for you?”

“No, not right now,” I replied, while Ian shook his head.

“OK, well I will check on you in a little while,” she said before walking away.

“Are you two having issues?” I asked being nosy, “You said you were doing great, but now things are complicated.”

“Let’s just say she wasn’t happy that we ran into you a couple of months ago nor is she happy that we are meeting today.”

“So you told her you were meeting me?”

“Yeah, and she tried to stop me,” he answered honestly.

“I know how that goes,” I smirked thinking about mine and Brayden’s conversation last night.

“Your boyfriend tried to stop you?” He looked at me curiously.

“He’s not my boyfriend, but yes, he did.”

“But I thought…”

“He told you he was, but we are just good friends…with benefits, I guess you could say. I knew I wasn’t going to be staying around here and I didn’t want a long-term relationship.”

I could almost see Ian change his demeanor like he was glad I wasn’t in a relationship right now.

“So you were saved from my question earlier, but I’ll ask you again. Why are you marrying Olivia?

“Look Sarah, I love her and I’ve made my decision to be with her. I may not be ready right now, but I know this is what I want,” he answered defensively.

“OK, OK, I’m sorry I asked,” I replied backing off.

“Shit,” I heard him mumble under his breath. “I didn’t mean to snap at you Sarah.”

“I pushed it so don’t worry about it,” I sighed looking around the restaurant to distract me a little.

“How is your sister doing?” Ian asked after a few moments of silence.

“She is great. She and Jake have two kids now and are really happy.”

“Wow that is great news. I’m glad she found her happiness after…everything.”

“Yeah it is. She has accomplished quite a bit in the last few years and I’m proud of her.” I smiled thinking about all that she has overcome and what she has accomplished thus far.

“I know you said you were starting a new job at the Medical Center; what will you be doing?”

“I will be starting a music therapy program there. I’m going to start in the children’s hospital and branch out from there. It will be challenging, but I’m looking forward to it.”

“Are you still writing and performing?”

“I write a little, but I did a lot of playing during my internship and will continue once I get going. I don’t plan on performing concerts or anything, but will utilize a variety of instruments.”

“I have to admit, I kind of miss hearing you sing and play from time to time. I liked listening to you, especially after a long day of school and work.” He looked at me with a smile that I haven’t seen since we were together.

“I kind of miss those evenings as well,” I admitted and smiled back at him.

We continued to talk for another hour or so and reminisced about the past, talked about our families and more about what we have done over the last few years. I told him about my relationships I have had and he told me about some of his flings before finding Olivia.

I could tell he cared about her when he talked more about her, but I didn’t see his face shine like it had when he talked about his other passions or even when he talked about our past. I know there is nothing I can do right now but to be happy for him, but I hope he can find the happiness he deserves with her.

For the last ten minutes, his phone has been vibrating almost non-stop. I suspected it was Olivia trying to contact him, but he kept ignoring his phone.

“Ian, if you need to answer that, you can,” I told him as it vibrated again.

“It’s just Olivia and she can wait,” he answered.

“Look, she is already upset that you are here with me, don’t make it worse,” I said with a sad smile.

“Give me five minutes…don’t go anywhere, please.” I nodded as he walked to the front door to call her back.

I called the waitress over to pay the bill for the both of us while Ian was on the phone. I didn’t want to come between them, so I was prepared to leave when he came back.

About ten minutes later, Ian came back to the table just as I was getting ready to get up. “I’m sorry that took so long,” he started, “She can get…no, you don’t need to hear about her anymore. Please stay a little longer.”

“Ian, it’s been nearly two hours already and I have to get home to take care of a few things myself.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want you to think you have to leave right now.”

“I’m sure, besides, I don’t what else to talk about if we stay longer,” I said with a light smile, even though I really didn’t want to say goodbye yet.

He looked defeated, but agreed. “Keep in touch?” He looked at me with a question on his face.

“I’ll try,” I answered. “It was good to see and spend time with you again Ian.”

“Thank you for coming, Sarah. I truly enjoyed being here today, with you.” He smiled and proceeded to help me with my coat before putting his on as well.

We walked out of the coffee shop and to our cars. I turned around to say ‘goodbye’ and came face to chest with him. I looked up at his face with a slight blush on my cheeks.

“Goodbye Sarah,” he said as he pushed my hair behind my ears as the wind blew it around. I closed my eyes on instinct at the feeling of his fingers brushing my cheeks and neck and shivered.

“Goodbye Ian,” I whispered. He kissed my forehead before backing away from me and I opened my eyes. I watched him return to his car and he gave me a wave before driving away. I got into my car and headed back to my apartment.

When I got home, I curled up on the couch in a daze. I knew there was no future for us, but deep down I was secretly wishing that our meeting today was enough to rekindle what we once had.

By the end of the day, I told myself that this was my time now. It was my time to start a career doing what I love. It was my time to be independent in my own home. It was my time to shine!

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