Today is the big day. Marty's been gone exactly two years.

I was on the porch last night, freezing my butt off, talking to him. I'm still angry with him. But it's not the same anger that I have always felt. It's different. It's an anger that doesn't really exist. At least it doesn't feel like it exists anymore. Maybe I am holding on to the anger because it's the only thing I have left. It's so easy to be angry with him for leaving me. It's so easy to remember the hurtful things that he said the last time I talked to him. It's so easy to remember him purposely not looking at me the last time I saw him. It hurt so much to see him look the other way, purposely avoiding me. I try to hold on to the thought that maybe he didn't look at me because he knew that he hurt me, maybe he was hurting too. Maybe he still loved me and that's why he couldn't bear to look at me. Maybe he still loved me and maybe he couldn't look at me because he missed me so much. Maybe he knew he made a mistake.

But that's all that I am left with. Maybes. And memories of hurtful things that never should have been said, especially not as his last words to me. I always liked to think of myself as the strong one. He used to tell me that if it wasn't for me he'd be dead. As much as it hurt me to say that I still took some weird sense of pride in knowing that he spoke the truth when he said that. Everyone who knew about his depression knew that was the truth and he didn't waste much time in proving it's certainty. He died three weeks after he broke up with me.

Everyone tries to tell me that he ended our relationship because he was preparing for his death. Breaking off relationships and giving stuff away are the planning mechanisms for death. But why couldn't he tell me that he loved me and that he was sorry for hurting me before he left? Some people think that if he had I wouldn't be able to continue with my own life, always pining away for him. That might be true, I might still be thinking about how much I love him and how much I miss him but wouldn't that be better than sitting here angry, thinking awful things about myself? Since he died I have tried with all my might not to think about those awful things he said to me and about me. They weren't things that can be easily dismissed. They were inadequacies that hold a quantity of truth, a quantity that I can't define. I don't consciously repeat his words to myself but I do find myself thinking of them when I do something that might give quality to them.

It was his choice to leave me. And that's exactly how I think of his death. I always thought that things would work out between us. I never thought that our break up was forever, I thought that we were forever. We still are forever because there is no way that I will ever be able to forget him. But at the same time, it just might be that I won't ever be able to forgive him.

When I talk to Marty I feel like I am arguing with him. I feel like I am defending myself for being angry with him and the idea that I need to forgive him so that he can move on with his life, wherever he is, always appears in my head. But I don't want to forgive him. Maybe because if I do I will lose the last connection I have to him. It really does feel like that is all I have left of him, anger.

I hate the fact that the only time I think about him is when I am angry with him. I hate that all memories of him surround those mean things he said. I hate that all I have left is anger. I don't want to let go of him. When he was in the hospital I held his hand every day. I promised him that I would always be there for him, always to hold his hand when he needed it. I can't remember him promising the same to me. But what I hate the most is this overwhelming urge to cry - but never having the tears to shed.

To forgive and forget. Can one exist without the other?

A response to myself

Dear Debbie,

Before you read this please know that I have done my usual advice routine. It's long winded and it takes me forever to get to the point, but read it all. You need to. And when you find yourself doubting Marty, yourself, and/or life, read it again. And always remember, I love you no matter what!

I have read your articles and I am sorry to hear that you feel as you do. But you need to remember the golden rule of life: Everything Happens For A Reason.

Marty was your best friend in the world. He loved you more than anything and as you have said, he knew that if it weren't for you he would have died much sooner. Those are very powerful words, "If it weren't for you I wouldn't be alive right now." What an enormous responsibility someone else's life is.

You need to remember that you did the best you could for him. You also need to remember that as you have already said, it was his choice to leave you. Surely if he had left the choice of his life to you he would be alive right now. But he isn't and you need to deal with the fact that you are.

I know that one of your biggest fears is that maybe Marty didn't love you as much as you thought he did. Questions such as 'How could he do this if he loved me so much?" and "Why wasn't I enough?" you ask yourself every day. These questions are painful and can't be answered. When Marty died he took the answers with him. But instead of focusing on these unanswerable questions and those hurtful words he left you with you need to search out your own answers. You need to live in the here and now. Just as Pavlov trained his dog to drool when the dinner bell rings you have trained yourself to fall back on those words whenever something goes wrong. You gave Marty the best four years of his life. Everyone who ever saw you two together knows how much he loved you. You know it, it was written all over his face. He never hesitated to tell you how wonderful you were. And for the first time in your life you let yourself believe that you could be that great. So take a look at your life. Examine it and find those wondeful gifts that Marty gave you. That sense of confidence in yourself. That love of life that he couldn't find for himself. And remember that you wouldn't be the wonderful person you are without him. He taught you so much about life, he taught you things that he couldn't hold on to himself. If you do nothing else, remember the lessons he taught you and live them as he couldn't.

Marty was a great man, but you are a great woman. Marty seemed like he was the one for you but he wasn't. A friend of mine once gave me a book about something called 'the meantime'. The meantime is a time of learning. A time for finding yourself and discovering what you want in a relationship. Marty was your meantime. Marty helped you find yourself. I watched you while you were with Marty. You two loved each other so much but you spent so much of your time on him that you lost yourself. But you can't blame him for that because that was your choice.

Choices play an extremely large role in our lives. Marty chose death over you, but you chose Marty over life. Those painful things that he said to you are only painful because they do hold a certain amount of truth. You spent so much time looking for Marty that you forgot yourself and now it's time for you to live.

The golden rule of life says that Everything Happens For A Reason. Sometimes it's difficult to find that reason and sometimes it takes someone else to point it out to you. And for that reason I will show you why it had to be this way.

Marty first thought about suicide when he was very young, years and years before he ever met you. He tried it years before he met you. His fate was decided way before he ever met you. You wonder to yourself, "What purpose did Marty have if he was just going to die anyway?" Well his purpose was you. He lived as long as he did so that he could teach you. Whether you believe in God, or fate, or whavever your belief, you must know this: Marty was a gift. His purpose was for you, and you alone. Take those lessons and live your life to the best you can. He taught you to love. He made you question life and it's purpose and through those questions you found the answers you thought he didn't have. You don't want to believe that you are a special person but you are. And he showed you that. Now get off your butt and do something with the life you have. Don't waste his gift. Give it to others. Show the world what love is and live love to its fullest. He showed you the meaning of life, he showed you that there is no time to waste. So don't waste it.

You ask if forgive can exist without forget. Well I think by now you must konw the answer. There isn't much to forgive. Just as you did the best you could, he did the best he could. You don't need to forgive him, and you won't ever be able to forget him, even if you wanted to. Everything that you are today is a result of knowing him. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day but teach him how to fish and he will eat forever (or something like that). Marty was the best teacher you have ever had. Pass his wisdom on to family, friends, and students. And know that you are strong.

And always remember, you gave him the best four years of his life but he gave you more than that, he gave you life itself.