Love always finds a way. Through misunderstandings, disappointments, pain, even lost time, life will bring soulmates back to each other. Some couples cross paths many times before they fall in love. Some couples go through extremely difficult experiences and grow stronger together. And in the case of Ben and Maya, their love survived six decades apart before they found each other again at a chance meeting at a grocery store. This story was inspired by an experience of a reader of AmoMama, where it was originally published.
Love At First Sight
Ben waited for a cashier at a grocery store in New York but the woman ahead of him was holding up the line. She looked like she was in her eighties, and she wore tattered, worn clothing. She tried to whisper discreetly to the cashier, placing only a small loaf of bread on the counter. However, the cashier didn’t have much patience for discretion and loudly responded, “If you can’t pay for the bread, just move along.”
“Please,” she begged. “I only have a few cents and I haven’t eaten in days.”
When the cashier refused again, Ben felt sympathy for the poor woman and offered to pay for her. When she turned around to thank him, the two locked eyes, and waves of memories passed over them. Memories from over 60 years ago.
Ben first saw her at a party. They were both in their late teens, at the beginning of their adult lives. And when Ben saw Maya across the room, it was love at first sight. She was stunning and her movements were full of confidence and grace. He approached her and the two began talking as naturally as old friends. Soon, they left the party to walk through a park, holding hands, as if they were the only people in the world.
They began to go on dates regularly and their love thrived. They vowed to spend the rest of their lives together. However, there were many forces keeping them apart. The law, for one. Interracial marriages were not legal in the U.S. until 1967. Maya was Black; her parents moved to America soon after she was born. Meanwhile, Ben was born and raised in Arizona as were his grandparents.
The couple decided to elope, but Maya’s mother got wind of the plan and didn’t let her leave home. At the same time, Ben’s parents moved states to bring him away from Maya. They thought Ben was “ruining his life” by pursuing a relationship with her. They went as far to trick him into believing that Maya was unfaithful to him. Devastated, Ben gave up.
However, Maya continued to try to contact him. She was upset to learn he had moved away without a word. But she managed to find his new address and mail him multiple letters, professing her devoted love to him. But Ben’s parents intercepted these letters and Ben only found them after his parents died when he was sorting through their belongings.
Realizing what happened, he traveled back to Arizona to return to Maya but he couldn’t find her. No one knew where she had gone. It’s like she had vanished into thin air. Ben finally gave up and moved to New York. There, he met Valerie. His relationship with her had none of the initial fire he experienced with Maya, but after some time, they were happy together. They got married and had three daughters.
Finding His First Love Again
Ben had finally recovered from the betrayal and heartbreak in his young adult life to face another tragedy. He learned that Valerie had a rare form of cancer in its late stages. There was little hope for recovery and she died only months after the diagnosis. Their daughters had already grown up and left home at that point.
For the first time in a long while, Ben was alone. There was little good to look forward to and no one to share it with. Until he ran into Maya at the grocery store.
He recognized her immediately despite her aging and her shabby clothes. But she was cold as she thanked him for the bread and left the store. He caught up with her and burst out his story, how he found the letters too late, and he couldn’t find her in Arizona. And most importantly, he had never stopped loving her.
Happily Ever After
The two began crying and Maya explained her life, which was much less fortunate than his. Her parents forced her into a marriage to a man who was later killed years later in a car accident. She moved back in with her parents to take care of them in their old age. But after they passed and she became old, there was no one to care for her. She was left on her own with little resources and unable to get work because of her age.