“I’m at work, can I call you when I get off in 5 minutes?”
After what seemed like ages my phone sprung to life to the tune of ‘Electric Feel.’
“Hi,” I said.
“Hi,” he replied. He let out a deep breath and I could feel myself breathe with him.
“It’s good to hear your voice,” he said. I could sense his crooked smile on the other end of the line and I struggled to stifle a giggle. I was overcome with giddiness. He sounded exactly the same as he did when I met him 6 years ago. He chuckled in response. The atmosphere was warm, electric, familiar.
Of one thing I was sure: I was the love of Maddie’s life. Time and time again he had chosen me over all others. Except for the original devastating betrayal where he chose drugs BUT my mind disregarded that fact. Every time I would get fed up with his lack of direction and would yell, “What do you want to do with your life?” he would reply, “I want to be with you. That’s all I care about. Nothing else matters. I want you.” My mind was fully aware of his previous dedication, but I approached the next statement with trepidation.
“So.. you’re getting married soon,” I said.
“Yeah,” he said. The giddiness started to fade.
“Do you love her?”
“Yeah. I do,” he said and my heart flinched in reaction. He continued, “I never understood when you said that you could love more than one person at a time. It’s always been you. But now with Emily,” he paused to gather his thoughts and choose his words carefully, “I love her too Cait, and not for the same reasons and not in the same way, but not in a lesser way.”
So this is what it had felt like whenever I had flaunted my other men in front of him? It was awful.
“Oh,” was all I could manage to get out. Maddie could sense my withdrawal.
“Cait, it’s not like that. I have waited for you, for you to want me, for you to finally decide that I am enough for you, to see what I knew all along, which is that I can make you happy,” he said. I could hear him grow emotional. “God knows I love you Cait. I have been planning our life together for some time now but you never showed up.”
I started to grow emotional.
“I love you too. I wasn’t ready then. I was scared that if I tried again with you that I wouldn’t be ready and then it would be my last shot. I’ve already wasted so many chances. I just needed it to be right. I’m ready for it to be right. I don’t want to live without you,” I plead, more desperately than I had anticipated. I was full on crying now. On the other end I could hear him shedding a few manly tears and then laugh at the ridiculousness of his emotions, like he always did after beginning to cry. Knowing this was happening just made me cry even harder. We just sat there on the phone while he composed himself.
“You’re ready to be with me?” he asked.
“Yes. Don’t get married, please,” I said, between gasped breaths.
“Okay,” he responded.
“Okay. I won’t marry her.”
I listened for any cues to him being facetious. He wasn’t. My mind caught up to the reality of the situation.
“But you’re getting married in less than a month!” I said.
“I know,” he said. “But if you’ll have me, if you really want me then I’m prepared to call it off and move to California.”
I was reeling. My emotions bounced off the sides of my brain and I felt dizzy like I was about to be sick. My original excitement was now confronted with a surge of commitment and responsibility. Could I promise him that I would be with him? I hadn’t even talked to him for 5 months; did I even know if he had his life on track, if he had stopped using? Did I really want him or did I just not want to share him with anyone else? Then, out of nowhere.
“Okay.” I said.
“Okay?” he questioned.
“Okay. Sleep on it tonight to really make sure, but okay,” I grinned into the phone. He breathed out a sigh of relief.
“I love you, Maddie.”
The line went dead and I lay there glued to my bed, my body embedded into the mattress by the force of the conversation. I smiled and did my best to fight off the doubting thoughts that approached my mind.
“He still loves me,” I whispered and fell asleep.
The next morning I awoke to a text from Maddie and two calls from an unknown number. The text read “Crashed at Em’s last night. She saw you called and wants to talk to you.”
I scrambled to see if there was a vicious voicemail awaiting me and thanked the Lord when there wasn’t. My next thought went to the phrasing of the text: “she saw YOU called ME.” Incredulous! Does she know her fiancé is the one who actually called his ex and told the ex that he was calling off the wedding? How dare he cowardly pin this on me?
“Um. I have nothing to talk about with her. And did you correct her in that you were the one who called me?” I texted back furiously.
A few minutes later: “She doesn’t think we should be talking and I agree.”
And then “The truth is, Cait, I just love her more than I love you.”
And that was that. What do you say to something like that? I was so exhausted from the intense high and low of the past 12 hour encounter that the tears just started pouring out of my eyes with no consent on my part. I just sat there on the edge of my bed, stoic while tears streamed down my face, looking at the end of a 6-year relationship as it was displayed on my phone.
A week or so later when I woke up early to get in some last minute studying in for my summer finals I pulled up FB, just for good measure. There on my newsfeed were dozens of pictures of Maddie and his new bride and her son in their wedding apparel, celebrating their marriage with family and friends. I was confused because I thought I had deleted all of our associates from FB but I guess I missed one. The reality of the end hit me like a bus. There was little else I could do except for sit there and keep breathing.