I’m married to an older man. We met at his first wife’s funeral. They never had any children. After 10 years of IVF cycles, they had to accept that their dreams of a family were not meant to be. They talked about adopting and had considered the orphanages in Africa and Asia but before those plans could be realized, she died from heart disease.
I was devastated when I heard the news. She was my English professor in my first year in university. I admired her greatly and it touched me when she said to me on the day of my graduation, that I was one of her top students.
That was five years ago. We kept in touch through Facebook and email. It was a very sad day for me when I heard of her passing. At the funeral service, I read a poem which I had written for that particular occasion and when I left podium, there wasn’t a dry eye in the church sanctuary. The turn out was big. Lots of friends, family, students and their parents, faculty members and neighbors. Her husband and family were surrounded by people offering their condolences and support.
I never imagined that I would end up falling in love with her husband and was glad that we didn’t meet while she was still alive. I was standing at the graveside when her husband came over to me. I wasn’t sure if to hug him or shake his hand. He ended up hugging me. “Thank you for that beautiful poem. Lynda always talked about how very gifted you were. She was very pleased to receive the collection of poems you sent her.”
“She was my inspiration. Besides God, she always made me believe that I can accomplish anything in life, not matter how impossible it might seem or not matter the obstacles. I will always be thankful for the impact she has had on my life.”
“And I will always be thankful that she married me. There was this other chap whom her family liked better than me but she decided that I was the one she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. And we’ve had fifteen wonderful years of marriage.”
I gently squeezed his hand, blinking back the tears. “I’m so sorry for your loss. I feel as if a beautiful light has gone out of the world.”
“Yes. For fifteen years she was my light. My life will never be the same without her.”
We stood there at the graveside, holding hands and then, friends and family joined us. I moved away, to give them space. After the service was over and the coffin was lowered and dirt thrown on it, we all headed back to the church for the repast. I mingled with former students and professors from the university. Many of them complimented me on the poem. One of them said that she had bought the collection of poems from the bookstore and that she loved every single one. “Perhaps, we can have lunch together sometime and you can autograph my copy.”
I smiled. “Perhaps,” I replied. While she chatted about the poems she particularly liked, my eyes strayed over to where Mason was. He was talking to a couple of the faculty members. I found myself thinking about what an attractive man he was and feeling guilty about it. At one point, he glanced up and caught me staring at him. Nonplussed, I turned away and feigned interest in what the student was telling me.
When it was time to leave, I went over to him and again expressed my condolences. We were alone, albeit not for long but long enough for him to say, “Thank you for being here. It meant a lot to me. Is there a way I can get in touch with you?”
I gave him my business card, shook his hand and left. All the way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about him and hoping that I would see him again. I waited for him to call and he did a couple of days later. He invited me to have lunch. The restaurant wasn’t far from where I worked so I walked and he was already there, waiting. I was so happy to see him, more than I should have been. He seemed pleased to see me too. We had a pleasant time, talking about different things while enjoying the mouth-watering Mediterranean cuisine. Unfortunately, the time went very quickly.
He walked me back to my office. When we were standing outside on the sidewalk in front of the building, I said, “Thanks for lunch.”
“Bernadette, I-I was wondering if I could see you again. I enjoy your company and was hoping that we can see more of each other–as friends.”
“Sure,” I said, although I was disappointed that he just wanted to be friends but I understood. He had just lost his wife so chances were, he wasn’t ready for another relationship and besides, maybe friendship was all he wanted with me. It was better than nothing. “I’ll call you over the weekend.”
I reached up and kissed him on the cheek before I turned and went through the revolving doors. We spoke over the weekend and we saw each other often. We spent Thanksgiving and Christmas together, just the two of us, no friends or family and it was wonderful. In the Spring, we took a two week trip to Greece and in the Summer, we visited Italy. He was the perfect traveling companion. We had a blast and before we had even left Naples, we were planning our next vacation. We thought somewhere in South America would be fun like Argentina or Costa Rica.
Then, one day I realized that I was in love with him and wondered what I should do about it. Should I continue seeing him or should I stop because it was hard for me to just be friends with him when I wanted to be more? Should I avoid him or should I level with him? I was afraid that leveling with him would cost me our friendship but how could I continue to pretend that being friends was all I wanted?
I decided to come clean with him. One evening after we had finished having dinner at his place, I said to him, “Mason, I have something to tell you.”
He frowned. “What’s on your mind?” he asked, looking concerned.
“I know that you just want us to be friends but that’s hard for me because–because I’m in love with you.” There, it was out. Silence followed my declaration. I stood there, nervous and wondering if I had made a mistake. I had to tell him, didn’t I?
Then, he was reaching for my hands and pulling me towards him, his gaze intent on my upturned face. “I’m in love with you, too,” he said.
My eyes widened. “You are?” I couldn’t believe it. My heart leapt with joy. Two years have passed since Professor Canfield died.
“Yes, I am. These two years that we have been together have been the happiest. I didn’t think that I would fall in love again so soon after losing Lynda. I realized it when we were in Capri and I was taking photos of you in the gardens of Villa San Michele. After I recovered from my shock, I wanted to tell you but decided that it wasn’t the right time. And also because I wasn’t sure how you felt about me.”
“When I realized that I was in love with you I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I thought of ending our friendship but then, I decided that I should tell you how I feel.”
“I’m happy you did.” He leaned over and kissed me.
A week later, he proposed. And now, here we are on our honeymoon in Nayara Springs in Costa Rica. I truly believe that Lynda would be pleased that her husband has found happiness again and with me, of all people.