She Writes Love...
jogging down the path.
    “I’m happy you changed your mind.” He smiled.
    “Me too.”
    The morning air was crisp and it felt exhilarating. Ben talked about his job, which led into a conversation about the hospital and then his wife, Amy. We must have run over five miles before he suddenly stopped. He tried to catch his breath and I could see the tears swell in his eyes. He didn’t need to say a word to me. I knew that expression too well. It was the same one I saw every day when I looked in the mirror.
    “Not here, Ben,” I said as I took hold of his arm and led him over to an area by the beach where nobody else was.
    “I’m sorry,” he said as he wiped his eyes. “I feel so stupid.”
    “Please. Don’t apologize and don’t feel stupid. It’s me you’re talking to. Why didn’t you tell me what today was?”
    He wouldn’t look at me. He only stared straight ahead.
    “Would you tell me?” he asked. “I’ve dreaded this day for a long time and I’m sure you’re probably feeling the same way.”
    “Maybe it helps to talk about it,” I said as I stared straight ahead at the water.
    “Do you really believe that?”
    “I don’t know. I don’t ever talk about it,” I said as I wiped the tear from my eye.
    “Maybe we should try it,” he softly spoke.
    I took in a deep long breath. “It was our one-year wedding anniversary and we were taking a road trip to Montana. We weren’t leaving until that afternoon and he decided that we needed to go for a run before we left because we were going to be in the car for a long period of time before stopping for the night. That day, we decided to run in Griffiths Park and we were about three miles in when I noticed he was sweating really bad. I asked him if he was okay and he said he was. Then, suddenly, he stopped and I heard him call my name. That was when I turned around and saw him vomiting while grabbing his chest. I ran over to him and grabbed his arm. I remember screaming at people to call 911. He fell to the ground and just laid there. I’ll never forget the look on his face. It was blank – no expression – and then he had stopped breathing. A couple of guys had stopped and one of them was an intern and he started performing CPR. I held his hand and yelled at him not to do this to me over and over again. Finally, the ambulance arrived, but by time the paramedics got to him, he was already gone.”
    I was shaking and Ben could see it. He put his arm around me and I backed away when I saw a woman not too far from us smoking a cigarette. I ran to her.
    “Excuse me, but do you have a cigarette?”
    “Are you okay? Here,” she said as she reached in her bag and pulled one out. She handed me her lighter and I lit it.
    “Thank you. You have no idea how bad I needed this.”
    “I think I do.” She smiled. I handed her the lighter and walked back over to Ben.
    He sat there and didn’t say a word. He only stared at me as I sat down next to him and puffed away on my cigarette.
    “A fucking twenty-seven-year-old health nut who was in incredible shape dies of a massive heart attack. So when people look at me and tell me that smoking will kill me, I laugh, because he did everything right.”
    Ben reached over and took the cigarette from me and put it out. “You don’t need that. You need this,” he said as he wrapped his arms around me and hugged me tight.
    I could feel the tears fill my eyes and I had to stop them. This day wasn’t about me and I’d be damned if I ruined it for him. I was there to help him get through it. I broke our embrace.
    “I’ve never told anyone about that day in detail.”
    “I’m happy you chose to tell me. Will you come with me to the cemetery? If you don’t feel comfortable with going, I totally understand.”
    “Of course I will.”
    “Really?” he asked.
    “Yeah, really.” I smiled.
    Ben followed me to my house to drop off my car and then we drove together in his truck to the cemetery.

Chapter 20
    Ben
    H er

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