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Three long lonely years

I am writing this to hopefully show that love is possible. I hope that each and every person reading this finds her love.

Fifty-three years ago I was seventeen. I was in my third year of high school and in the second year of my friendship with a boy named Michael. (names are changed)

Michael and I were very close friends. We were the kind of friends that share everything. We were open and honest with one another and we never lied. Except for about one thing, that is. You see, I had deeper feelings for Michael than that of friendship. I assumed he knew, which was a stupid thing to do, and I also assumed that he didn't feel the same, which was another stupid thing to do. That year, Michael asked for my help with something. He told me that he wanted to date my very best friend. I was devastated, but I agreed to help him, all the while hoping he'd see how much I cared for him and change his mind. He never said anything, and so I kept my mouth shut. Three years went by. Three long, lonely years.

The day that the relationship between my friend, Sara, and Michael ended was the day my life changed forever. Sara had moved off to a college that was two hours away, leaving Michael and I at the same local college. The tried the long-distance deal, but of course it failed. She ended up going out on him, and crushing his heart. When he found out about her little affair, he ended it right then and there.

He came to my place and asked me to go on a walk with him. I went and we talked for hours and hours about his failed relationship and all the things he regretted. I'll never forget, he told me that the thing he regretted most was all the love he wasted on her. That tore at my heart. I knew he wasn't ready for anything new yet, so I just let him know that, like always, I was there for him. He thanked me with a big bear hug and kissed me on the cheek. After we walked back to my house and I had gotten into bed, I was filled with a new sense of hope. Maybe our love would get the chance it deserved! I hoped and prayed that he would see the light before it was too late.

A week went by and he hadn't hinted at anything at all. I was a very impatient young lady and so I drove over to his house and knocked rather ferociously on his door. When he answered the door, all the well rehearsed thoughts left my head. I was once again lost in the abyss that was his beautiful blue eyes.

After I had sat down and he was in the kitchen getting us a drink, I remembered why I had come. I had to confront him. (I was such a stupid little girl.) When he returned, I was ready. I stood up and boldy said, "Michael, I care about you." He was taken a-back, but said, "Well, Catherine, I care about you, too," he sat down, "is something wrong?"

"Yes, something is wrong, Michael! I've tried so hard to show you how I feel about you and you don't notice! I thought you knew before you went off and danced around Sara for three years, but maybe I was wrong. Do you know how I feel about you, Michael?" I was fuming, slightly, and the poor boy was scared to death.

"No, Cath, I don't guess I do if I missed it that many times. I'm sorry if I've upset you... I just didn't know. Actually, I still don't."

"You're IMPOSSIBLE!" With that, I stormed out the door, and down to the car. I kept walking and didn't look back as he ran down the steps and tried to stop me. He kept yelling, "Cath! Catherine! What did I do? Please don't leave!" But I was too stubborn. He got in his car and followed me. He may have not realized how I felt about him, but he still cared about me and he wanted to fix whatever was wrong.

I was driving much too fast and didn't see the tractor that pulled out onto the road until it was too late. I slammed on the brakes and spun the car around completely before barely missing the tractor, hitting the ditch and causing the car to flip twice and land on it's side. Michael, however, saw the tractor pull out and eased onto the breaks. He stopped the car when he saw me start to spin and jumped out. He told me later that when he saw the car flipping, he couldn't breath. His heart was a lump in his throat as he ran to the smoking car and pulled my battered and limp body from the wreckage.

The only part of this that I remember was opening my eyes for what couldn't have been more than a minute and seeing his terrified face over me. I whispered, "I'm sorry, Michael," before slipping back into unconsciousness once again.

Michael tells me that the thirty minute ride to the hospital and the four days after that I was in a coma were the worst of his life. The nurses all confirmed that he never once left my side. He held my hand the entire time I was asleep and refused to leave. I woke to the sound of his voice reading to me and his fingers entangled with mine.

I didn't say anything at first, I just watched, entranced by his voice. When he felt my stare and brought his gaze up to meet mine, the visible joy in his eyes could never be matched. He dropped the book and pulled me into the tightest hug I've ever had. Thinking back, it kind of hurt considering all the broken bones I had, but it didn't matter. He pulled away and held my face in his hands.

"Catherine Rhoten, I'm so sorry that I didn't see it. It took me three years, and a devastating car crash to see it, but, you... you.." He was unable to finish his thoughts, so I helping him out.

"I love you."

We wiped away each other's tears and fell back into each other's arms.

"And, I love you, Catherine," he said into my hair.

I was released from the hospital two days later, and we were married in just a few months. We had to wait for my leg to heal, so that I could make it down the aisle. (Although he asked, I refused to be pushed down the aisle in a wheel-chair.) We will have been married for fifty years next January. We have three children, and eight charming grand-children.

Not a day goes by that either of us don't think about the day we almost lost our love, and not a day goes by that either of us fail to tell the other that we will always love them.

Thank you for reading my story. I hope it has been a blessing and inspiration to you.


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