I don’t remember exactly when I met her.
I joined the 74th AES in 1992. She was already a member. We were both flight medics. I just know it was sometime my first year there.
I don’t even remember exactly how we became best friends, but we did.
Our relationship had its turmoil and drama. It’s changed. She’s changed. I’ve changed. Don’t we all?… I think it’s called maturing. Growing up. Anyways, she is still my best friend.
So our friendship started out likely on a drill weekend. The Air Force Reserve calls them Unit Training Assembly, or “UTA” weekend. First weekend of every month. As a flight unit, we had the additional responsibility to maintain flight time. So, we probably averaged 5 days a month. There was always extra time or missions to pick up, temporary assignments. Travel opportunities abounded, and we took advantage of all we could.
In the 5 years I was at that unit, I traveled to near every continental state. I also traveled to over a dozen foreign countries. I did it as I went thru Nursing school, so always had a backpack full of heavy text books. This all before the Internet and cell phones. Often times those books never got opened. I settled for B’s and C’s in exchange for the life experienced I gained. It was worth it.
Anyways, Chives and I became inseparable. Her boyfriend and a guy I was seeing were good buddies. We all hung out and partied. Wow some of those memories still make me smile.
The guy I was seeing went in to break my heart. We weren’t in a committed relationship. We lived several states apart and both full-time students, reservists and employed. There was little time to nurture a long distance relationship. But I did fall in love with Him. Only he didn’t know. And I didn’t know he was in love and secretly engaged. Then married. I found out 3-4 months later. After we’d travelled and been intimate. So he as a newlywed cheated on his bride. I was raging mad at him! I had a few drinks and made a scene. In public no less, at the Base Club parking lot. The curtain closed on that relationship with me saying, “You Fucking Asshole. I loved you.” If I remember correctly, I cried and puked the rest of the night. And then, nursed a hangover the next day. I went on to mend my broken heart in some self-destructive ways but made a lot of friends and had a lot of great first dates!
She went on to marry the guy she was seeing. They had a baby soon after, he just turned 18. She then went thru the loss of a baby at nine days old, and then a few late-term miscarriages. She desperately wanted more children, but her body just failed her. She is truly blessed with her son. She absolutely treasures him. They both do.
She went thru those years as I had 3 children in 44 months. It was the hardest thing to tell her that I was pregnant. I wanted her to be pregnant too. As much as she did. And my pregnancies were complicated, my son 10 weeks premature. My second pregnancy, was spent 20 weeks on bed rest, 3 weeks hospitalized. She was born at 37 weeks. She is my angel baby. Then my Boo, I carried until 38 weeks, but worried constantly that something would go wrong. Nothing did. She completed our family.
our friendship was strained, but we didn’t talk about it. I know what she was going thru was hard and I going thru what I was going thru, was difficult too. We couldn’t support one another, I think conveniently because of distance. We live about 3 hours apart. That’s not far when your single. But once your married and have a baby, It’s crazy far! This was still before cell phones were handed out and used like SS numbers. We didn’t have them, so communication was like it was, a call or two a week. For a while we had a weekly scheduled call date for an hour on Sunday. Eventually those dwindled and calls became sporadic. We played phone tag. Weeks, then months would go by. Then a few years with just a call or two.
We reconnected thanks likely to Facebook. Over the last few years we’ve spent time together meeting up at hockey tournaments or dance competitions. We talk rarely, but text pretty frequently now. Sometimes weeks will go by. I think we are both committed to getting together this year for a weekend. I’m still passive. I’m afraid to commit to a plan. I don’t know that I can see her right now. I don’t know that I’m ready.
See for years, I’ve known a secret. After she lost Isabelle, she had an affair. He was married. They worked together, out-of-state and away from their spouses. I don’t know the ending of that affair, only that her husband never knew. He still doesn’t. I truly was able to empathize with her. I totally got what she found in her affair partner and why she needed it. She was trying to replace the loss, fill the “unfillable” void, that only comes from the loss of a child. There’s a hallow space, that never completely goes away. You always remember.
She was just as crazy in love with her husband. He just couldn’t connect with her emotionally about the loss of their daughter. He’s a great guy. An awesome dad. Kinda gruff, doesn’t like to deal with complication. He’s a big city cop. Big in physic too, goes to the gym and takes care of him self. Enjoys good beer. He’s good company and he adores his wife. They live a comfortable and happy life. The adore their son. The are crazy in love. I’m sure there are things I don’t see, she’s pretty conservative. Maybe reserved is better… Maybe both. But publicly she lives a happy life.
So, does her husband need to know? Should he know? That’s rather complicated. I always thought he should know because “it sucks not knowing.” I think Chives knew that, but we didn’t talk about it. And I was never going to tell or even hint to him about her clandestine affair. I promised her I’d tell no one. I will go to my grave with her secret.
So does he need to know? I can say that now, So many years later… No. Absolutely Not. Why would that do anything good for anybody? And imagine the destruction. Just seems insane to even consider telling him.
She told me because she knew I wouldn’t judge her, because well, I still go by that philosophy. I just don’t judge. I’m also good at secrets. I have several that will go to my grave. She also knows some of mine.
But I have this secret. My husband’s affair. I haven’t told her. And I’ve thought about it a few times. Because I’m sure she’d listen and be great support. Truly. But I find myself raging mad at her sometimes. I’m afraid of what I’d say to her. Text messages are easy. They are toneless and short generally. Simple exchanges that keep us connected but without substance. Still nurturing.
So does she need to know? I wish I knew the answer. I spend a lot of time thinking about telling her and what I’d say, questions I’d ask. Like, “what were you thinking?” Because I truly don’t get what my husband was thinking. Fundamentally. Doubt I ever will.
I’d love the opportunity to pick her brain and not have it affect our relationship, to get inside the mind of a cheater. But I can’t. I won’t. Because I don’t know that I want to know the details. You can’t unknow some things. And those are the things I’m afraid of. The things I don’t know. So I don’t ask the questions.
I truly believe there are things we’re better of not knowing. Like details. Details of my husband’s affair. It took up years worth of his life, but amounts to a few hours of collected data, the few details that he’s given me. The letters I exchanged with the other woman. not much really, because I haven’t asked the details. I can tell you the crazy thoughts I’ve had about his affair. My imagination is wild. But honestly. All I know about their sexual relationship (puke) is that, “it was good.” Yeah, he said that. And they never used protection. “Not once,” as she had to tell me in email. so the rest is all unknown. I come up with new questions in my mind constantly. But the answers if I asked…First off, if my husband were honest, which he wouldn’t be… I’m pretty sure that they would all hurt. Every single thing he could say would hurt more than not knowing does. Right? That’s what I tell myself. I believe it even. So I don’t ask.
So that’s where I am with Chives. She hasn’t asked what’s up with me. I suspect she shows that something is. She knows me. We are best friends still. But she is afraid to ask. And I’m afraid of telling her. So neither of us go there.
Her daughter’s birthday is coming up soon. She only lived 9 days. She was a micro premie, born at just 24 weeks gestation. Such a profoundly difficult start to life. She was able to fight if for 9 days. She died in her mothers arms. She still grieves for her. For the past few years I’ve acknowledged her birthday and anniversary of her death. It’s brought us much closer. Her husband has long forgotten, as only a man can do. A man can never know the pain of the physical loss of a child. Just won’t. Just so that doesn’t sound sexist.
So she and I will connect about Isabelle’s short life. It will nourish our relationship and foster time to pass until enough goes by that I can decide one day that she never has to know about my husband’s affair.
Won’t she be better off not knowing?