“I love you.”

“I love you.” She didn’t mean it, and he knew it. Life had changed since those summer years. He thought about how long it had been. Did he love her?

No. Not anymore. He closed his eyes and thought about their good times, before it happened.

He remembered the first day he met her. Their philosophy professor had taken a group of his most dedicated students down to the lake. He taught them in the Socratic Method. They sat around a tree and spoke for hours, about the human condition. He sat next to her, catching her eye when she looked around at the ducks swimming in the water.

He remembered the sun shining through her chestnut hair, during their spring picnics at the park by the lake. He remembered her joie de vivre, the passion that burned in her hazel eyes. They returned to the lake. He brought a picnic basket along. He could not afford much, but luckily she loved peanut butter and jelly almost as much as he did. He brought two apples for dessert. They walked around the lake holding hands, and happily munching their apples. They talked of philosophy, and their childhoods. They quickly fell in love, and spent many days in beach others company, sitting at the lake, watching the ducks, and wishing to make the world a better place.

He remembered scrimping and saving for a ring. A quarter carat was all he could afford. He brought her back o the lake, just another of their spring dates.

He remembered the precocious breeze. He loved to watch the way the wind gently tossed her hair. He loved the way she delicately nibbled away the crust of her peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich, leaving the soft, delicious center to be devoured in three exquisite bites. He packed the wax paper and apple core remains of their lunch. They stood and folded their blanket, before putting it back into the picnic basket. She reached her hand to his. “Oh! Wait.” He reached into his pocket, smiling uncontrollably. As he produced the thin golden ring, with its small diamond her eyes lit up. “I almost forgot…” he acted embarrassed at his own feigned forgetfulness “Would you marry me?”

He remembered the day exactly one year later. They had spent all year frantically planning. They found caterers, and florists; they chose invitations and a cake, but for all their planning their most important plan was their plan. He would finish his law degree, and work to help people in need, and she would work side by side with him as a paralegal; they would have two children, a boy named James, and a girl named Ashley; they would find a nice house, in a good school district, and teach their children to love life. The year sped by. They returned to their park, friends and family in tow. They stood by the lake and were married by their favorite professor. They thanked everyone, and left for Europe to see the birthplace of philosophy.

He remembered the day the test turned up positive. She was pregnant. They were going to be parents. They hugged. They called their families. They told their friends. They found a bigger apartment. Their firm was slowly growing, as they took case after case of families wronged by the government that was supposed to protect them, and people discriminated against by the society to which they belonged. Their plan was coming to fruition.

He remembered the day it turned. He had been sleeping peacefully. He was enjoying a dream of his child. A dream of his wife. A dream of bringing his child to the lake. He awoke in confusion. She was confused. Her panties were soaked with blood, and her abdomen wrenched with discomfort. They made a trip to the emergency room. The doctors determined that their child was dead. They cried. They promised each other they would try again. They promised each other their undying love. They went home. For the next two weeks they suffered through the loss of their child.

He remembered the next time they found something had been growing inside of her. She had been feeling weak. They thought it was the after affects of an unfortunate event. She had not stopped bleeding in the nearly four weeks since the miscarriage. She went to her gynecologist. The tests came back. Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. Cancer. They went at it head on. They would work together and destroy this roadblock. Their dream was too important for a few malignant cells to destroy. Their dream would find a way.

He remembered the day their dream collapsed. He had moved to greener pastures. He had taken a new position at a law firm, dealing in intellectual property rights. He wanted more money to afford her cancer treatments. She told him not to abandon their dream; they would make it through somehow. It was a beautiful spring day, the wind pushing the leaves on the trees. They drove to the doctor’s office; hands locked tight, silently comforting each other. They waited. The waiting room was always an uncomfortable place. The nurse led them into the room. They waited for the physician. She sat on the uncomfortable table, with its noisy white paper. The doctor came in. They noticed the doctor looked uncomfortable. He sat down in his chair and told them there was no option. She would have to have a hysterectomy or else she would die. He looked to her. She was crying. He saw the woman once he loved. He saw the woman who would have helped raise their children. All he had worked for had fallen apart. He cried.

He remembered when he loved her. It did not seem fair to leave her after what they had been through together. He dreaded going to work on another of Microsoft’s cases. The dream was dead.

He looked at the woman he used to love, turned off the light, and went to sleep.

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