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Twenty years ago I met – and lost – the love of my life

It all began on a mid-summer day in 1994 at the company picnic. I didn’t know it, but Mike had come to the party because he knew I’d be there. I only thought of him as an obnoxious co-worker. He sat with my family all day and at the end of the party, he wanted to go out afterwards.

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I told him I was going home but he begged to come over to my place and I said yes. Later that night, we sat in the living room and talked and watched some funny videos. He actually leaned over and gave me a kiss. I was very surprised, but I was noncommittal. When he went home at midnight I thought, “I can’t date someone I work with. I don’t even like him!”

The next day, he called me after trying every Alderman in the phone book until he reached the right number. He asked me to dinner. I tried to put him off, but he begged and pleaded until I relented. At 6 p.m., I ascended the stairs to his apartment,  and I wondered what in the heck I had gotten myself into.

Mike answered the door. He had been preparing dinner. As I entered the apartment, he talked to me from the kitchen as he tossed the salad. For the first time I noticed Mike in a new way: He was bubbly, funny and friendly. He was a short, brown-haired guy with a hard Maine accent, tearing lettuce and preparing dinner for me.

I was impressed. I had never been pursued like this! Our first dinner was salmon, rice, peas and tossed salad. I was soon to learn that with Mike, there’d be a lot of unforgettable firsts I was to enjoy with him! It was a wonderful evening full of conversation and laughter — and the night I fell in love!

We had a strong connection and soon became inseparable. He begged me to move in with him, which I did.

Humor and fun abounded on our many adventures that summer. We experienced Colonial Williamsburg together, visited Monticello and the petting zoo at the fair. We went to lake parties, birthday parties, and Civil War reenactments. We traveled to Virginia Beach and enjoyed a day on the pier, had a beer with some shrimp, and we talked about our future. He encouraged me to follow my heart and become a teacher. He would get a ferry job so we could be together all the time. He was tired of sailing around the world as a merchant marine.

Later, we took a romantic walk on the beach. I was so happy, and it was a summer I’d never forget.

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As the summer flew by and fall came and went, we had received the blessings of both our families. Mike and I decided that we would visit New England after Christmas so I could meet his family. November arrived, along with my 30th birthday. I got to spend it with Mr. Right! We had wonderful evening with my family and friends. The holidays were fast approaching and we went to all the hockey games. We spent Thanksgiving in Walt Disney World and by mid-December, Mike was off to do a short job on the Gulf Coast before we went to meet his relatives. Although we’d spend this Christmas apart, he would be back soon.

I never saw him alive again. He accidentally drowned while on this job. I was devastated.

Although 21 years have passed, I can happily reflect on our great friendship and the love we shared. We made the most of our time together, not only in having all kinds of fun adventures, but appreciating each other and letting each other know it.

Mike was the guy I had always dreamed of. He healed the wounds from a terrible relationship that almost ruined my self-esteem. He showed me I could be appreciated and loved for being myself. He showed me that it was the little things that mattered in life. Those last six months in 1994 are full of cherished memories that I will continue to visit for the rest of my life.

Although I have moved on in life and am married, I can always take the time to visit my Pinterest board dedicated to those special days. My most popular pin comes from the board, “Memories of a Lost Love,” a Walt Whitman quote: “We were together. I forget the rest.”

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