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Part 4
The Realization

I was sitting in a luxury hotel room that looked out over the ocean with my friend DW. I‘d been graciously invited on a tropical family vacation to Fort Lauderdale.

It was getting late in the afternoon. The wet heat coming off of the ocean was lifting and the breeze was cool and calming. I was staring at the beads of sweat rolling down the glass of my frozen margarita. I took out my phone, by impulse, not involved with the family conversation, mostly in Spanish, that was taking place around me. I started aimlessly scrolling through my texts, marg in one hand, and phone in the other, with my knees pulled up and my feet on the end of a big kitchen chair.

Since Green had just left for Basic, and because I missed him already, I started going through our old conversations. I’d never done this before. I’d never had the need. He was always right there, after all, and we were always in contact via text or phone before he went away.

The texts are long gone now. I’ve since upgraded from a flip phone to the iPhone and somehow these messages have been lost somewhere in cyberspace

One by one I read them, steadily and carefully. It was beginning to dawn on me that every message was exceedingly tender and sweet, constant affirmations of love and kindness, sweet statements about how amazing I was, how I deserved the world and how I should never forget that.

Suddenly, something changed in me. Perhaps feeling a little goaded on by the tequila but something profound and painful and intense happened. It was like I was walking down a New York street in the 1940s and had a piano had been dropped on me. The tears began to rush from my eyes; my hands began to shake uncontrollably.

I knew I was about to fall spectacularly to pieces so I made a quick escape from the room. I said I wasn’t feeling well and needed to take a walk—a headache.

Without any idea how I got there I was sitting in a quiet, unnoticed corner of the hotel sobbing my heart out. Feeling, all over, such a penetrating consumption of my cold heart. It felt like heated liquid was being pumped through my veins, filling them, stopping them up.

It was then, in that moment, that everything became clear for me.

It suddenly all made sense. I was madly, passionately, head over heels in love with Green.

And now it was too late. He was gone. I’d spent two years being ignorant and blind, not feeling the way I should have, letting the perfect guy stand in front of me without ever so much as a thought. My mind was rushing with various contemplations, my heart was racing. I wasted all of this time. We could have been together. We could have faced this military thing together and maybe I could have waited? No, maybe if we’d been together we could have found another path. We could be together now. Like we always had been. Playing Yoshi Story on my PS2, watching fight club, drinking Jack Daniels. Just being together and loving each other. Nothing would have mattered; nothing would have hurt so much if we’d only had each other. I wasted all of that time. All of our time. Being a foolish, foolish girl.

I know that I couldn’t have made myself love him when I didn’t. So, why now? Why now, Universe? It felt like some cruel joke. A joke well-played by darker forces at work, for I had been exceedingly morally remiss—sleeping around, cheating, drinking to excess—why would I deserve happiness? Why would I deserve Green?

Then the darker thoughts crept in.

What if he’d gone to basic and had given up on me. What if he didn’t love me anymore? What if, after everything I put him through after every insane freak-out, unhealthy relationship, all the times I screwed him over—what if he really had finally had enough?

This terrified me the most. That now that I had finally realized my love, his would have dissipated. Enough fellow Marines telling him I was a whore, a tramp. Constantly telling himself, maybe, that I was a bad person, always putting myself first, never having much consideration for others. All of these thoughts were buzzing through my head as I made my way back to the hotel room. Exhaustion had over taken me. As I lay awake in bed, anxiety stricken but too tired to move a muscle, I knew what I had to do and that if I didn’t, I would be lost forever.

As soon as I walked through my door, at home in Chicago, I ran to the kitchen table. I found one of dad’s yellow type pads and began writing. It was letter to Green at boot camp. I poured my heart out. I wrote until my hands hurt and my thumb and fore finger were blistered. I told him everything. How I didn’t know what I had until he left, how he was the love of my life, how I had finally come to my senses. And the most important thing of all, did he still love me? Could he ever forgive me for the way I had been for the last (nearly) 2 years.  I spent 3 hours writing the letter. I went over every word so carefully—I didn’t want to leave one thought left unsaid. He needed to know everything so that I could find some solace.

With trembling hands I crammed the letter into an envelope, stuck 5 stamps on it and mailed it to Private Green’s training camp, the same place I’d been getting cordial “I miss you” letters,  written in chicken scratch, on notepad sized Military paper for the last 3 weeks.

More to Come