Maybe it's a testament to just how much stress I live under on a daily basis, or maybe it's something else.
I do know that waking up each day was a miracle in many ways. I died when I was at home.
Maybe that sounds dramatic, but it is true. At that point, I had been sleeping on the couch for a few months and "The Runner" and I had stopped having sex months before. We stopped shortly after the third or fourth time that he told me that falling asleep with me was uncomfortable for him. I only happened to move out to the couch because I fractured my hand and had to sleep with it elevated. I always look back at that time and wonder just how much happiness he was hiding when he fell asleep at night.
Finally, his words and his actions didn't matter. I was forced to sleep apart from him because of a medical reason, not because I couldn't take a hint.
I remember a trip I took with "The One" that October to Chicago. We had planned on spending the weekend doing random things, but then heading to a party with one of our friends.
It was extremely cold and windy that weekend and that became our excuse to stay indoors. The truth is that we had already gotten to a point where we didn't want to be apart for more than a few hours and we definitely didn't want to spend what little time we had with other people.
I can go back into my memory banks and tell you everything about our time together. I know exactly what we did; what I wore; how he looked; what we laughed about and I can also tell you when the tears started during each trip.
Each time we saw each other it was a Friday through Sunday. I would never be able to sleep on the Saturdays before it was time for one of us to go home. So I would wake up and either sit in bed next to him and watch him sleep, or, more often, I would curl up with a blanket near a window and look outside.
If "The One" woke up and asked why I was awake, I'd always have some excuse ready. The truth was that I never grew comfortable being in love with him as much as I honestly was in love.
I could never forgive myself for having those 72 hours of happiness. And yet, I never felt the guilt that I told myself had to be there.
Having an affair is not something I ever imagined myself getting involved in and I wanted to be devastated. Sometimes, I believe growing up Catholic did me a great disservice.
And then there are other times when I realize it is just me: I need to be the martyr, even if only to myself. That has to be it.
How do I know this? It is easy: I had never felt the type of love or connection that I felt to "The One". Never.
And to be honest, I won't ever feel it again. Oh, I will (and do) love. But never will I find my match in the same way. Yes, that is an extreme statement, but I am okay saying it because there is only one him and there is only one me.
That's a fair statement that any of us can understand.
Sometimes, I have a fleeting image of us together and I wonder which of us sabotaged the relationship. Then I realize, no, that's not what happened. We fell in love, we loved, we faced adversity and our timing was off.
But before it was off...we had our first Christmas together. And it was like a movie with all of its perfection. Even though it was in Atlantic City in the most ridiculous hotel ever. But we had Denny's. And presents.
And lots of love.
(Heart caption info: Lyons Township High School art teacher Jamie Rey's acrylic heart, located in downtown Chicago)