It’s a song by Kenny Chesney from his Radio and the Road album. I’m not a Kenny Chesney fan, or a country music fan, but this song hits too many chords in my life to escape notice.

Doomed love is only romantic when you hear songs about it. Going through it either builds or destroys character. I met Annie six years into my marriage. She was a decade younger than jaded ol’ me: fresh faced and gorgeous, with a slim, firm young body. The physical attraction between us was strong. The emotional attraction was stronger. We became very good friends.

There was no lack of drama in Annie’s life. She had a knack of making drama happen. Looking back I think there were times she manufactured it: not consciously,not intentionally, but manufactured drama none the less. It added an edge to an imploding work place, and a slowly unraveling state funded program.

The biggest lie I told myself about Annie was that we had a spiritual connection. It was an easy lie because on the surface we did, both being seriously moral Catholics. But the truth was I lusted after her, and the “spiritual” connection we had was window dressing to rationalize a love that could never be. I came within a whisker of being unfaithful, but I stayed true to my wedding vows. Small credit to me. I discovered my own weaknesses through Annie, and I was much weaker than I imagined myself to be.

I lost control of my emotions and my behavior with her. I would have done anything she asked me to. Eventually I found myself helpless, compromised. My life seemed to be disintegrating. I thought my marriage was going to end and Annie and I would be together forever. In short, I was losing my mind.

A priest told me I had to flee. A job opened up in another county and I took it. The program collapsed shortly after I left. It was a traumatic experience that landed my former supervisor on the psych ward. Annie landed on her feet somewhere else. I had lunch with her once afterwards, and things weren’t the same. I had started to see through her, even though I think I was still in love with her. It hurt when she told me she had met a guy and got engaged. But I never held anything against Annie; I couldn’t. Besides, what was it to me? I was married.

Annie got married and gave birth to a daughter who had uncontrollable seizures. Annie couldn’t bear her daughter’s sufferings, and smothered her with a pillow. Two days later she rented a motel room and shot herself in the head. I went to the funeral: a miserable affair intended to “celebrate” Annie’s life. Made me realize I could never go back to being a Protestant – and that Annie was lost to me forever. After we separated I’d had a dream that gave me hope the love between Annie and I would be requited during our human lives. Her funeral put the lie to that dream.

A few years later I heard “Who You’d Be Today” by Kenny Chesney. The song still goes to the bone, especially the last line: “I’ll see you again someday.” Chesney is talking about heaven. Annie didn’t die well, and I wonder if she’ll be in heaven someday. I pray she will, and I have a modicum of hope. What we would say to each other in heaven is another matter entirely.

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