I met J at a party about 6 months before the birth of his first child. I fell for him almost immediately. His wit and quickness blew me away. And he has the most mischievous smile with a twinkle in amazing blue eyes. Oh yes, and an accent to make my knees weak.
I didn't realize he was married. In a moment of brazenness I told him I really wanted to kiss him. I saw him hesitate briefly, but we did kiss and it was amazing. I was smitten. We met again a week or two later and even though at that time I did find out he was married we set out on a friendship that included sex. Sometimes I think we tried not to - certainly I think he tried not to. I didn't promise him anything, nor he I. After a few weeks J begged off the relationship and we minimized our contact to a phone call now and again.
His daughter was born with severe medical issues, no doubt putting stress on a marriage that was already very difficult (at least for J). Although he admitted loving his wife he found her very difficult to live with. A few months after the baby was born J and I got together again. Again it lasted a very few weeks; was restricted to very few get togethers and they were always very short and often did not even include sex. But an hour of conversation with J was more stimulating and enjoyable than entire evenings spent in the company of other men.
Six months later I received a Happy New Year greeting from J via email. Sporadically we had exchanged emails and the odd telephone call. I responded and we agreed to get together for a drink and a catch up. The baby was doing well, all things considered, but their marriage was more stressed than ever and his wife had recently proclaimed that she wanted a divorce. I felt so bad for them all and encouraged J to hang on to his marriage if he could.
During the weeks that followed we spent a bit more time together as J looked for a place to live and spent much of his time outside the house. We went together to the same annual party where we had met the previous year. It was the only 'date' we ever had and it was an amazing evening. We danced together and laughed and went home early to make love. Mostly I remember the dancing and how J liked to hold me so close to his body that it felt almost as if we were one when we were dancing.
I seldom thought that J and I would ever have a future together. Even if he hadn't been married, there were things about him that I think would have eventually caused me pain and I recognized them relatively early. Besides, at the time that I met J I was not interested in pursuing relationships. I was deeply wounded from my own horrible marriage that had ended the spring before J and I first met.
Shortly after that date, J called me to tell me that his wife had accessed his email and found out about us. They say that people who get caught in their affairs want to get caught and I often think that J wanted to be caught. Finding out about me seemed to galvanize his wife's resolve to stay in the marriage and eventually J felt he must give it a chance. His wife corresponded with me via email a couple of times. She was very accusatory and hurt and hurtful. J and I had coffee once or twice over the next few months but then we settled back in to our own lives and rarely corresponded.
About a year later I gave J a call to see how things were going. Their daughter was very ill and they did not expect her to live too much longer. She had been in the hospital for months and they were working to bring her home for palliative care. J also told me that they were expecting a second daughter in a few months. I called again a few months later and his workplace told me he was away for the week. I thought "either the baby has died, or the new baby has arrived".
Very occasionally when I am driving in J's neighborhood late at night I drive down his street to see if I can see him sitting outside having a cigarette. I know that is his habit, even if I don't know exactly which house is his. One night not so long ago I spotted him. I stopped the car and whistled softly out my window in his direction. When he looked up he recognized me immediately. He told me that the baby had died the previous month and that the new baby had arrived 12 hours later! We promised to get together for a drink one day soon.
In the following days I sent J an email of both congratulations and condolences:
It was really nice to see you this evening - if just for the moment. I'm not sure I reacted appropriately to hearing of [baby's] passing. I am so sad for you and [wife]. As I drove down Bathurst a wave of sadness swept over me and I wanted to cry for all you have been through in the last 3 years. I can't imagine the feelings that you have been going through - for to even try to imagine them overwhelms me. Happy for [new baby] - sad (and perhaps relieved and happy) for [first born]. Guilty for feeling happy and relieved and sad and .... it's just too much ...
Sometimes I wish we had never had what we had... perhaps if we hadn't we could just all be friends and part of one another's lives, and I could have known [your daughters], and it wouldn't be so difficult to just get together and talk politics and freakonomics and parenthood and how the world should be... perhaps even [wife] and I would get on - you love her - perhaps I would too.... it's just all a fantasy....
But we did and I can't really be sorry. Neither can I forget, nor completely let go.. I will always think of you and wonder how you are doing and every once in a while I will just appear - like tonight.
It still remains true - that an hour of conversation with you was more exciting and stimulating than an entire evening of love making with many others. It also remains true that you had kisses that made me feel I was 15 again.
I do hope we manage to get together for that beer every now and again.
My deepest deepest sympathies for your loss. And my most warmest congratulations on [baby's] happy arrival!
As always, I remain ...
Your friend and kindred spirit...
J called me one day a couple of weeks later (and a couple of weeks ago) and we chatted for almost an hour. I followed up with the following message:
Thanks for calling tonight. It was nice to catch up, even though at times I found our conversation a tad awkward. I'm not sure why really - probably we were both in 'odd' spaces. Me: sleepy and still reeling from the legal battle depression stuff. You: sleep deprived, grieving, and as always struggling with the mild existential angst that we share.
I spent a lot of time this evening on [first born's] website and both her's and [new baby's] blogs. It's a gift you give to share your family and your experiences with the world. Thanks.
My heart is full and warm for you and your life so full of family and friends. Hang on to it J. It's really all there is.
Very very soon after sending that last message I received a voice mail message from J's wife. She had somehow discovered that J and I had been in touch, was furious and accused me of tempting a married man. I attempted to speak to J before I responded in any way to her message but he did not return my message. I finally wrote the following to his wife and copied him:
I received your voice mail on Sunday. I wish to assure you that I have no intention of pursuing a relationship with J. Yes it is true that I have spoken to him occasionally. I have called him a couple of times for professional advice re: web design and marketing. I have also called him a couple of times to inquire as to the health and well being of all of you (especially baby). I have also run in to him on the streets once or twice. That is all.
I suppose you are correct in saying that my motivations for contacting him on those few occasions have been selfish, in that I was the one seeking something: (advice and/or information). However, I certainly did not think that my calls could cause him, or you, any pain or suffering. I am notorious for keeping in touch with friends - if only through the occasional phone call. I find it difficult to dismiss people from my life completely. I choose my friends because of a real connection that does not just disappear when circumstances change. I did not for a moment expect that I was "fucking with his brain" as you put it. It is obvious that you have issues with trust or you would not be so hurt and angered by our occasional conversations. However, I do not wish to make things any more difficult or painful for J than they already are. Therefore, you can be assured that I will not be calling him again anytime soon.
Whatever happened between J and myself is in the past. I wish him (and you) all the best. I also wish to offer my sympathies on the passing of your daughter. And my congratulations on the recent joyful arrival of another daughter.
I have not heard again from either of them and this is how it should be. I check the websites for the girls that J maintains now and again. Perhaps I shouldn't. His wife's accusations haunt me.... did I 'tempt' J? What role do I / did I play in upsetting their life? Before I backed out of J's life when they decided to keep working on the marriage I asked him what his feelings were for me. He told me he felt tenderness. I too, feel tenderness for J.
I have promised them I will not contact J. So I won't. I hope I just bump into him once in a while so I can see that mischieveous smile again.
I miss him.