Iris was 82. I just adored this woman. She's been gone a few months now, and I miss her.
A few weeks before she died, we talked about her life. She'd lost her husband of fifty years. Not long after his death, she got sick. Then she called me. She wanted to talk. About herself, about her marriage, and about her life. "Things I'd like you to hear." she said.
She first spoke about her husband. "Bob wasn't my first love. I had a couple of those. One in high school, a boy name Jack that I just adored, and another man named Sam about two years before I married Bob. He and I were in love. We talked about marriage, but about a year and a half being together he was killed in a car accident."
"I loved him so much. I'd found my soulmate. And I lost him."
"About a year later, I met Bob, and he filled the gap of that loss in my life. And I grew to love him. I was so grateful to him. He was a wonderful father to our kids, and we shared a lot of common interests. We had fun together."
"But my love for Sam never died. I would revisit his letters, look at his pictures, and think about him. For years, I missed him."
"Then Bill appeared." She turned her head, looked out the window and said, "It was as if he was Sam's twin. We understood each other instantly." I asked how they met. She said, "I was in a secretarial pool and I was promoted. I was good at my job. Bill was my friend's boss and his office was near my desk."
"We just "got" one another. Just like Sam and I. Same humor, same ease, same...well, same attraction."
"We were great friends. Eventually, he was transferred to another part of the business, I got another job somewhere else, so we saw one another maybe three times a year."
"But the connection never waned. I developed another soulmate. And we stayed in touch."
"And I know what you may be thinking. Nothing like that happened...but, if I'm honest, we talked about it. I just couldn't do that to Bob."
"I've never told anyone about Bill until this very minute. Not my kids, not my friends. Why I'm telling you now I'm not sure. I guess I wanted somebody to know. I'm not doing well. I'm aware I may not have much time."
"But I have held his love in a quiet place, a part of my life I've kept private. Until now."
At that moment, the phone rang. Iris picked it up. She put her hand over receiver and said, "Could you excuse me? I have to take this call." I hugged my friend, grabbed my things and headed for the door.
And as I left, I heard her weak but excited voice speak to the person on the phone.
She said, "Oh, Bill, I am so happy to hear your voice. How are you, my dear?"