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“Could you rewrite my experience?” – that was the email’s title. In the email itself, Ben (not his real name, of course) gave me permission to take editorial license with his story.  So, I have, and what follows is the result.  “I hope it meets with your approval, Ben.  Thanks for honoring me with your request. ”   (Note:  I have never met Ben in person.  And, he has not seen what I did with his idea until now that it is in print.)

There in the lobby, they found a table, a little off by itself.  They knew they would not have much time alone.  Other activities on the schedule would begin shortly.  They were not young, but they viewed each other as if they were, for that was the image they both carried during the years each had followed the paths of their respective careers. They began talking in low voices, leaning forward toward each other.   

“Do you know how much I’ve been looking forward to sitting here, looking at you?”

“Yes, I think so”, she said.  It was the answer he had hoped for, but also had wondered if he would hear. 

He reached for her hand, which she also was hoping would happen.  He gently caressed her fingers with his.  It was a sensation she had not felt for longer than she wanted to remember.

“Do you know how much I love you?”

Softly, she said, “I hope it’s as much as I love you.”  He couldn’t keep his eyes from watering as he looked intently at the woman he adored without ever having had the freedom to affirm it until now.  He had been dreaming that someday he would hear those, her, words.  Not from just anyone.  No.  They would have to be from her, only her. 

“You are crying,” she whispered.  

“I can’t help it.  I have longed for the moment when we would be able to say to each other, ‘I love you.’”   He looked into her eyes, while wiping his own, and said slowly, “I love you.  I want to spend the rest of my life with you.  I want you to be the most loved woman there is.”

She smiled, with gentleness, and then allowed the smile to widen before saying, “We still have a lot to learn about each other, don’t we?  Are you afraid we will find some things that we won’t like?”

“The thought has never entered my mind.  If you find things about me that you don’t like, that cause you pain or uncertainty, how could I not want to fix them?  I want you to be happily in love for as long as we live.”

She gazed, silently.  No man had ever talked to her like this, at least as far as she could remember.  He gave her time.  He knew she was pondering.  But, he didn’t know about what.  Inside, his heart was racing with the question, “Have I said something that offends you?”  But, he waited.

“How is it that you can express yourself like that, say things in that way?  I have never had anyone express their feelings about me the way you do.  I don’t know how to respond.”

“Knowing you love me and hearing you accept my love for you, fills my heart with joy, wonder, longing, hope.  If I speak in gentle ways, it isn’t because you are breakable.  You are strong.  You are smart.  You know what life is about. I know those things about you.  My gentleness is like that of the man who tenderly holds a large and exquisitely cut diamond in his hand.  The diamond is not only beautiful, but it is super strong.  We aren’t going to break it.  But, I still would hold the diamond with gentleness, because of my respect for and admiration of how valuable it is. 

“If you will allow me to love you entirely and hold you in my heart entirely, the sensation of having a diamond in my hand will be only a shadow of what I will feel for you, how I will treat you, and how I will love you.  The diamond will envy you.  And, I will be the happiest man alive.”

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