I’m Here For You



September 17, 2004

Hey Greta,

I wanted to let you know that I’m here for you and my heart hurts for you. I know I can’t be the friend you used to have or replace anyone. I know that completely and I don’t expect to do that, I can just be me. And while I may not know a lot about what you’re going through, I know what I’m good at and that’s being there for someone whatever they may need. I may not understand everything, but I’ll try my hardest. I’ll try my best to help you and let you know that you’re not alone in this. I know nights are the worst for you and I know that I may not have much to offer, but I’m here for you. If you hit a low and need a voice (or someone physically there), I’m here. I don’t care when it is or what time it is. I’m very serious about this. 3am? Call me. 1am? Call me. 2pm? Call me. I don’t care. I’ll keep my cellphone by my side. If all you need is just to hear someone else (regardless of topic or none), just to feel comfort, I’m here.

Want someone to talk a nonsense topic to distract you? Fine. I can do that. Need someone to just sit there and neither one say anything? I can do that, too. Need someone to listen while you vent, cry, etc.? I can do that, also. If you need me to talk to you on the phone every night, I will. If you need me physically in the house for whatever reason, I’ll do it.

Greta, I want you to know that’s what friends are for. I know what it’s like to do everything on your own and not depend on other people. Believe me, I know. I know what it’s like to hold it all in and try to keep going. You and I share a lot of characteristics in that respect. So don’t underestimate me or think I’m not strong enough. Believe me when I say I know how to be there for someone. That hasn’t changed in me. But also know that I won’t push you or whatever into anything you don’t want. I’m not like that and I think  you know that.

Anyways, I wanted you to know this and I know I wrote it in an email and didn’t “speak” it to you, mostly because I didn’t want people to overhear and I organize my thoughts better when writing. And just because I don’t speak it, doesn’t mean that I don’t mean it. I mean this very much. I know what it’s like to feel alone, Greta…very much so…and using your advice, don’t let that and other feelings prevent you from reaching out. I’m offering myself for you for whatever you need in any way, even if it means sleeping at your house sometimes.

I’m determined to help you through this, and I truly believe God put us together for a reason. There’s no doubt in my mind that our friendship is a God thing. Just takes me some getting used to it. I feel honored that you’re willing to share any part of your life with me, including tougher things you’re dealing with or have dealt with. Anyways, before I babble too long…

I’ll see you before you or I leave work…




I really appreciate your offer. I just need to take some time to grieve the loss of a friend again and figure out how to move forward in light of all that has happened.

I will not hesitate to call or ask you for anything. I just am feeling kind of alone today and it has nothing to do with you. Lately, I have been reminded of all that I have lost and it is a drag.

My nights are the most difficult, but they are also the times I wrestle with God the most and sometimes I need to do that.

So thank you for your offer. I might just take you up on it sometime. But just as you have asked me to be patient, I am asking the same of you.

I am looking forward to spending some time tomorrow with you watching the Pitt and Penn (pencilhead) games. Ha ha.

So thank you again for being you.




A New Type of Relationship



September 15, 2004


I know…it’s in my head, but it’ll take time. I’m used to always being the one giving, not getting anything in return, and the fact that you do so much for me is difficult for me to understand or make sense of (I know you’ll say you don’t do much, but you do. Just the fact you listen to me is more than enough).  Most of the time, I don’t feel like I deserve it or that I’m worth it, that there are people who need things much more than I do. Which is why I have so many problems now. Ironic, huh? I’m so busy suppressing my feelings and thoughts to help others that I screwed myself up. Ugh.

Anyways, sorry…I told you I wouldn’t write much anymore, that I would try to speak it (of course, you’re with a client…how convenient for me!). I’m not very good at this, Greta. I’m trying. I get so frustrated and mad at myself. I won’t ramble on…Lord knows, I could write forever. I’m glad that comics made you laugh. That made my day.

Talk to you later,



I know it will take time for you to get used to this new type of relationship. I understand that. I just think if I keep reminding you of the fact that you matter you will eventually believe it. My intentions are not to pressure you, but to help replace that negative thinking with the truth, and the truth is that you matter to me, to God, and to the world.

My prayer is one day you will not only realize that, but believe it. So until that day I will constantly remind you of that fact.






E-mail from Kat to Greta:

Resentment – “To feel again,” clings to the past, relives it over and over, picks each fresh scab so that the wound never heals.

Forgiveness – to release, to hurl away, to free yourself.

I think I’m stuck in the past of ungrace…unforgiveness. I hold grudges and anger against the things that have been done to me. I haven’t forgiven them, or myself. Which totally applies to something you [Greta] said…processing and going through it to find healing and grace (paraphrased). I can’t let go until I’m willing to forgive. But how do I find the strength to forgive? To offer grace? It seems I could spend a year crying out my forgiveness, and it will still linger.

“The first and often the only person to be healed by forgiveness is the person who does the forgiveness…When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover that the prisoner we set free was us.”

Just a thought to ponder.


Response E-mail from Greta to Kat:


You’re right that forgiveness plays a part in the process of healing, but I don’t think it is the first thing you need to do. You can’t force  yourself to forgive others who hurt you.

Maybe the first step is to acknowledge the hurt and talk about it and how it affected you and still affects you.

Forgiveness will come, but in its time…and maybe that isn’t now for you.

And if I haven’t told you lately, I enjoy our time together whether we discuss something serious, silly, or work related.




E-Mail From Greta in Response to Kat

Email from Greta in response to Kat, September 9, 2004.


I want to take a chance to answer some of your questions you emailed me from last weekend.

  1. How did you see what I was feeling? It was just a feeling inside me that something inside you was hurting and what I saw on the outside wasn’t really how you felt. I think God had a lot to do with it.
  2. What gave it away? I could see it in your eyes. Your eyes tell me what you are really feeling.
  3. Did Al and Ashley talk to you about me? No.
  4. Did they recommend you talk to me? No.
  5. What made you offer now? (since we don’t know each other extremely well, yet…although maybe it’s because we’re similar in a lot of ways…scary thought, huh?) It was the situation with the miscarriage that really prompted me to talk to you now.
  6. What did you see? I saw the hurt and loneliness behind your humor and mask.
  7. What do you see? I see someone who is scared and hurting.
  8. Just some FYI’s…I don’t want this to be a friendship based on helping me (selfish thought, huh?) or always about me…I want it to be a real friendship. All I’m looking for is a friend…someone who cares, can confront, can challenge, can love and go beyond the fluff surface stage of friendship. And not be intimidated by my “tough” talk or “independentness” (is that a word?). Don’t be serious with me all the time…have fun, be dumb, be silly, whatever. I love humor and laughter. Don’t treat me like a client…treat me like you would a friend. I hate to be so serious about this and it probably shows how too emotional and intense I am, but I hate playing games (yes I know…hypocritical of me…since I did that in answering your questions at dinner…I’ll try not to). I’m more of a person where either you are or you aren’t. Believe it or not…this is how I reacted to Alex’s question of if I wanted to date…he was a bit scared of me…but he persevered (no…this friendship won’t lead to marriage). Do you understand my thoughts on this? Yes, I understand what you are saying. I don’t want you as a client of spouse (LOL). I want to be a friend, co-worker, older sister.
  9. It’s hard for me to accept that you want to be a real friend to me and that you care that much. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that I’ve acted the way I have so far…I’m a skeptic, what can I say? I hope over time you will let your guard down and learn to trust again.
  10. Why do I hold on to hurts so much? It is just the way you learned to cope. Why can’t I get over them and move on? When we don’t think we are able to express our feelings we bury them and hold on to them. You cannot get over them, but you can process them, heal them, and move on. Why do I carry it and not let go? (you may not be able to answer this). Because it is all you know.
  11. Do you believe in soulmates? I do believe in soulmates. I have had two in my life. Do you believe God has only one person for you or more than one? I believe that God uses different people to come into our lives for different reasons. I don’t know if there is   person for you, but I hope and pray there isn’t for me. It would be a very long life alone because I know that I have had soulmates in my life. I look forward to when the next one comes into my life.

I’ll look at the other e-mails later today. I really want to be able to answer your questions before we go away this weekend.

Until I return…Greta


Penn State Football and Flat Tires

The Lion Shrine at Penn State.

The first time we associated outside of work (besides the dinner), I was as nervous as school girl on a first date. The butterflies were doing back flips in my stomach. It had been four years since I had a one-on-one relationship outside of my husband, Alex. It was a Saturday and Greta had invited me over to her house that evening to watch the Penn State Nittany Lions football game. Alex and I were fanatic about the team and went to almost every home game. Alex had two tickets for this game, but he was taking his friend Scott, which meant I was stuck at home. For the most part, I was okay with it as it was exhausting traveling three hours one way for a football game (no matter how much I loved the team). If kickoff was at noon, we left home between 7 and 8am. Most times we didn’t get home until late evening. And if it was an afternoon or night game? You’re talking one, two, or sometimes three in the morning. As I said, exhausting.

But for this game, I was going to Greta’s house instead. At the time, Alex and I were house sitting for friends of his from work. We were also baby sitting, but as they were teenagers, we didn’t dare call it that. So it was house sitting with two teenagers. I borrowed their truck for the week so that Alex and I would have two cars for a change. As I drove to Greta’s, I was on edge, wondering how to make small talk, what would it be like, hoping it would go okay, worried she wouldn’t like me or like spending time with me. Can you tell I was a bit insecure?

I finally made it and the night was a blur. Greta had munchies laid out on the coffee table to enjoy while watching the game. I found out she was a Pitt fan and I teased her about how horrible they were (definitely not in the same league as PSU). We watched the game, and I tried to point where Alex was sitting in the stadium. It was hard to see because there were so many people and the camera never focused very long. And that’s it. That’s all I remember. Greta told me later that I was incredibly shy and quiet the entire time. I was so nervous and so focused on being “proper” that I never was fully present. I also knew I had to be home at a certain time to take care of the kids and wait for Alex to get home. He wouldn’t want me out too late without him.

On the way home, it poured, flooding the streets. I hit a huge pothole that I couldn’t see under a vast puddle. It sounded like a cannon boomed. I inched along a bit and heard a thwunk-thwunk-thwunk. That wasn’t good. I pulled over to the side of the road. Damn it! I blew a tire. Thank God for cell phones. I called AAA who said they would be there in approximately 45 minutes, which typically translates to an hour and a half. I sat and waited, drumming my thumbs on the steering wheel. There’s not much you can do when you’re on the side of the road and it’s pouring rain. I called Greta to tell her what happened, and grinned the entire time. I actually had a friend to call.

The Makings of a Soul Friend

You never realize how much your past impacts your future until it’s all laid bare. I do things and have no idea why. It doesn’t make sense. Where did that come from? Why did I do or say these things? Why am I so afraid of love? Of loving and being loved? Why do I feel so lost and alone? Why do I not allow myself the affection and belonging I crave? Why do I bury all feeling and never let go? Then, one day, when my past is pulled to the fore in all its ugliness and nakedness…exposed…does the light begin to dawn. I see now! I’m beginning to understand! Although, many times, I’d rather not see. I’d rather not understand. I don’t want to remember.

It becomes unbearable, too painful, to dredge up the memories long pushed away. I can never do this on my own, the power and weight of these thoughts and memories would crush me. Bury me into oblivion. I’ve stuffed them in a vault that’s sealed like a caulked coffin made of marbled stone. Immovable. Cold. Firmly contained. Shut. A dungeon of memories, a dark, dank cave of pain and hurts and anger. Locked up tight, repressed with a Great Wall of China built around the room. No one can enter, not even me. But there’s always a single, dim candle burning, a chink in the wall, a peeling corner of the caulk on the coffin, just waiting to be broken and spilled out.

But I discovered I’m not alone. I don’t have to face these villains by myself. God silently whispers persistently, telling her to reach out and look beyond my crafted mask, my smile that never reaches my eyes. She listens and resists – What is God thinking? Is He crazy? We’re not really friends, just barely know each other and God wants her to risk her trust, step out on faith and offer a life-preserver. Ignoring her fear, she does what He asks, she listens. And forever I’m grateful for her listening.

A simple, painful conversation over dinner and my carefully constructed facade slips so slightly, a sliver of reality seeps through to the fore and she catches it. And holds on. And never lets go. That’s all it took for my wall to begin crumbling, even the real Great Wall of China one day fell. Walking the shadows with a person who shares my soul. I feel safer. Less threatened, and I begin a journey of self.

Holding my hand and guiding me, lighting my way, she walks side by side with me. She refuses to leave or run away no matter how ugly and brutal it gets on my path. She reminds me that she’s here forever to stay and walk through this life together. I begin to face things we’ve ignored most our lives.

And now we’re here, sharing our past and our present, our journey’s together, our ugliness and goodness. Nothing hidden, all laid exposed, and loving each other completely. Our walks are more similar that we ever could have thought or imagined. Our being together is not even a question. We share too much to dismiss it as coincidence.

We share, we hope, we laugh, we cry, we love and we heal…together…attached by our “souls.”

Do You Believe in Soul Mates?


Greta held my hand, quietly let me pour out my story, and never offered a clichéd response. She knew I needed to let it all out, to rail against the injustice of it all. To finally tell someone of the gut-wrenching pain that I was burying inside. Once I was done, I was spent. I had nothing left in me. I was mortified that I had blurted out my problems. It’s not something I was supposed to do. I was supposed to suck it up and soldier on, take one for the team. What would people think of me? Of Alex and I? We worked so hard at appearing perfectly happy. We couldn’t let anyone know that our precocious selves had royally botched things up.

And then I ran. Okay, not literally, but figuratively. How could someone see so easily past the walls that I had painstakingly built? I was suspicious, wondering if someone had said something to Greta, prodding her to speak to me. Did someone recommend she talk to me since she has a background as a professional counselor? Why talk to me now after all this time of me being “invisible?” Yes, I was a bit paranoid, skeptical, and unsure. Anxiety was a roiling river in my stomach. I couldn’t believe that I had told someone of our problems. What would she think of me? Of us?

That weekend, I e-mailed Greta, the beginning of a year of “book length” e-mails back and forth (okay, mostly “book length” from my end). I dumped my anxieties and suspicions on her, begging her to tell me the “truth.” Here’s what the first one looked like where ellipses where my best friend, punctuation was a luxury, and riddled with insecurity:

Hey, Greta…I know this isn’t probably what you want to see first thing back to the office, but I’ve been thinking and I figured I’d write it all so I don’t forget (which probably won’t happen). In any case…just so you know, we don’t need to discuss this at work since it can take away from work time and you getting things done. (me too…) So whatever works for you or not at all…I’m easy to please. This is just a list of questions for you…answer what you choose. You’ll discover (if you probably haven’t already noticed) I write easier than I talk. I think clearer…I don’t know why (okay…I do…but we won’t go there). Anyways…just some things to think about…maybe it’s all nonsense, maybe it’s not, I don’t know. All I ask is that you always be honest with me (don’t hide anything from me…including criticism, etc.). Here it goes:

1. How did you see what I was feeling?

2. What gave it away?

3. Did Al and Ashley talk to you about me?

4. Did they recommend you talk to me?

5. What made you offer now? (since we don’t know each other extremely well, yet…although maybe it’s because we’re similar in a lot of ways…scary thought, huh?)

6. What did you see? What do you see?

7. Just some FYI’s…I don’t want this to be a friendship based on helping me (selfish thought, huh?) or always about me…I want it to be a real friendship. All I’m looking for is a friend…someone who cares, can confront, can challenge, can love and go beyond the fluff surface stage of friendship. And not be intimidated by my “tough” talk or “independentness” (is that a word?). Don’t be serious with me all the time…have fun, be dumb, be silly, whatever. I love humor and laughter. Don’t treat me like a client…treat me like you would a friend. I hate to be so serious about this and it probably shows how too emotional and intense I am, but I hate playing games (yes I know…hypocritical of me…since I did that in answering your questions at dinner…I’ll try not to). I’m more of a person where either you are or you aren’t. Believe it or not…this is how I reacted to Alex’s question of if I wanted to date…he was a bit scared of me…but he persevered (no…this friendship won’t lead to marriage). Do you understand my thoughts on this? Am I being way too out there or unreasonable? Sometimes I can be…sometimes I think to much.

8. It’s hard for me to accept that you want to be a real friend to me and that you care that much. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that I’ve acted the way I have so far…I’m a skeptic, what can I say?

9. Why do I hold on to hurts so much? Why can’t I get over them and move on? Why do I carry it and not let go? (you may not be able to answer this).

10. Do you believe in soul mates? Do you believe God has only one person for you or more than one?

That’s all for now. You’re probably grateful. As I said, you don’t (and I don’t know that you should) need to talk about this during work hours…maybe at lunch or whatever…I don’t want to distract you from other work you have to do. I’ve managed this long…longer won’t kill me.

Take care…hope you’re having a good weekend. See you on Tuesday.



Slat by Slat, Nail by Nail, The White Picket Fence Was Coming Down

Greta told me once that she could never figure out where I went or what I was doing. She thought it odd that I didn’t want to socialize with my coworkers. She didn’t know that I was trying to be ‘invisible.’ If I avoided making friends or getting close to someone, I could avoid being hurt. Oh, the irony.

I called Alex in the afternoon at work to remind him that I was having dinner with Greta that night. There were quiet pauses in our conversations by this point, strains of uncomfortableness, lacking the words to fill the silence. It wasn’t so easy to talk as we used to. Too much pain, hurt, and resentment filled the void. I gently hung up the phone and sighed deep, trying to ease the tightness in my chest. I expected after five years that things would be different. That we would have children running around. That we would love each other even deeper than when we started. That our goals and dreams we thought we shared would soar. Yet, it was all crashing down and I didn’t know how to stop it.

Greta and I went to Applebee’s for the fateful lunch, as I like to think of it now. I often wonder where I’d be now if it wasn’t for that lunch.

“Kat, you need to talk. You need to get it out. I can see it in your eyes.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.”

“Don’t give me that. I’m a counselor. I know pain when I see it. You never talk to anyone unless you have to. You avoid us all in the office. You just had a miscarriage and you haven’t said a word about it. You didn’t take time off. You haven’t shown any emotion at all! There’s no life in you. I’m really worried about you.”

“Really? You really see all that in me? I thought I hid it so well.”

And then the floodgates flew open. I poured out my heart and soul to Greta, someone I barely knew, but who could see past the steel wall in my eyes to the drowning pain beneath. It was in that moment that I began to be saved. Maybe that seems a bit melodramatic, but it truly felt as though someone had offered me a rope to climb out of a despairing pit. I told her of my failing marriage, how we argued all the time from the little things to the big things. I told her about my dwindling self-esteem, my lack of interest in sex, my anger and resentment toward Alex for treating me as though I was just an object. I complained of our money troubles and how Alex would rather talk with his father and gain his opinion instead of discussing it with me. In a broken voice, I shared about my desire to have children, that we had been trying for two years, started going to an infertility doctor, only to have a miscarriage and how I went alone to the doctor.

Alex and I bitterly argued the next several days about having children after the miscarriage. He demanded that I go back on birth control as though that would fix everything. He didn’t think it was the right time for us to have kids, we couldn’t afford them, that he had enough and wanted to stop trying. He blamed it all on me – that I was the one who pursued trying to get pregnant. He accused me of not telling him that I had stopped the birth control, even though we did have a conversation about it. I became the one with the problem. I was the one who failed at getting pregnant. I was the one who wanted to have a child to begin with and never took his feelings into consideration.

As the damning words piled on, my back bent under their weight. Yet, I stayed silent, bearing witness to his pain and anger. I was ashamed. I knew he was hurting, too, but neither of us knew how to reach out to the other. We were lost in our own worlds.

At that moment, we began to separate. Physically and emotionally. It was easier to distance ourselves from each other than it was to work through the anger, the hurt, the loss. It scared me. Instead, we struggled to bear our happy-go-lucky facades that we were known for. People didn’t press, didn’t push, didn’t ask, so it was easy to bury it. I told Greta that was when I realized Alex and I were broken, and I didn’t know how to fix us. My white picket fence dream was being destroyed slat by slat, nail by nail, until there would be nothing left but splintered wood forgotten on the ground.

The Beginning of a Friendship

I frowned at my dinosaur of a computer, unfocused and lost in thought. I rubbed my aching lower back as i stretched my feet out under the desk. How much longer do I have to deal with this pain, I wondered. It’s been almost a week already. I huffed. My blonde bangs fluttered from my breath. I leaned forward to continue working on the newsletter project for work. It was due by the end of the week, but I was exhausted, mentally, emotionally, and physically. As much as I tried to push through and ignore what happened, it kept creeping into the back of my mind like a nightmare. As I forced it from my mind, I pounded the keys on the dirty cream-colored keyboard, chipping a nail in the process. Damn it! I really need to get out of here. I can’t do this today. But this has to get done. I sighed, frustrated. All I needed was a faster computer and things would be better. I was almost done with the newsletter, but had to wait an eternity for the program to do its thing. It was like watching the sand through an hourglass, speck by speck – literally as the hourglass appeared on my computer as it whirred and chugged. I hung my head in my hands, bracing my elbows on the desk. My back and pelvis still ached, although I was glad it was mostly bearable now.

“Hello? Kat?”

“OW! Ouch! Crap!” I shouted as I bashed my knee on the corner of the desk, startled by the voice.

“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry, Kat! I didn’t mean to startle you,” apologized Greta. She stood in the doorway, concern clear on her face. I rubbed my knee and smiled half-heartedly.

“It’s okay, Greta. I didn’t’ know you were there. I was in lost in thought, I guess. What’s up?” I spun in my chair to face Greta. We didn’t know each other well beyond being co-workers for the same Christian non-profit agency. I tended to avoid the people in our office as much as possible, which proved difficult since there were only four of us that worked full-time and it was a small office. Not that I didn’t like them, but I kept to myself, unsure and shy when faced with people I didn’t know well. Most days, I met my husband, Alex, for lunch instead of hanging around the office and left for the day as soon as it was time. I didn’t linger, as Alex would question where I was and who I was with. It was easier just to do what I needed to do to avoid the somewhat “polite interrogation” from Alex.

“I just wanted to check on you and make sure you’re okay. How are you feeling?” asked Greta.

“I’m fine,” I curtly replied. “Just tired and have a lot to do. I think I’m going to leave early today.” I avoided looking at Greta and began gathering my things. I didn’t want to face her inquisitive gaze. I couldn’t stand the pity. It was the last thing I wanted now. I already saw myself as a failure and didn’t need someone reminding me of it.

“Kat, do you think we could have dinner together one night? Just you and I? I need to talk to you about something.” Greta cleared her throat and stepped aside as I headed for the door. I paused, unsure of how to reply. Normally, I would say no since Alex didn’t like me to go out much without him, but I figured this probably has something to do with work. We had a stressful fundraising banquet coming up and I knew Greta was responsible for a large part of it. I tucked a curl behind my ear thoughtfully and cocked my head, looking at Greta.

“I suppose we could,” I replied hesitantly. “I would have to check with Alex, but I think it would be okay. When?”

“How about tomorrow night at Applebee’s? We can go right after work.”

“Okay. That sounds good. I’ll let you know tomorrow.” I slowly walked out the door, letting it bang shut behind me, as I headed to the car. I was meeting Alex at my parents’ house for dinner and then home. We often went to my parents’ house for dinner as they lived nearby and enjoyed spending time with them. Plus it saved us money as we didn’t have to pay for the food. I wasn’t sure how Alex would respond to me going to dinner with Greta, but I guessed it would be okay. It depended on what kind of mood he was in at the time. Hoping for a good one, I got in my black Saturn and went on my way.

Dinner was good – melt-in-your-mouth roast beef, creamy mashed potatoes, and tangy homemade applesauce, my favorite. My mouth still waters remembering it. That night, I hopped in the shower to get ready for bed. Normally, Alex showered with me at night, but he was too busy playing his new X-Box game. Sometimes, he was like a big kid. We had only been married for four years, but it felt like I had known him forever. Sure, there were problems, but what marriage didn’t have them? I hummed to myself as I scrubbed, letting the warm water pour over me. Alex had agreed to me have dinner with Greta tomorrow night.

I was pretty pleased that I got to have a “night out,” even if it was only dinner most likely about work. I gently washed my stomach and my hand stilled, remembering what could have been. I closed my eyes and leaned back against the shower wall, cradling my stomach. My forehead creased as a tear meandered down my soft cheek. I tried so hard to hold the sorrow in, willing it to stay buried underneath my fragile façade. Stop it, Kat! There’s no point in dwelling on it. Get over it! Alex did and you can, too – I would often mentally berate myself. I dried off, and crawled into my bed, letting the blankets envelop me like a warm hug.

Miscarriage and Macaroni and Cheese

The front door banged. I startled from my nap and realized Alex was finally home from an exhausting day at work. He was a shipping and receiving manager for an innovative healthcare technology company. The days were long and weary, but I couldn’t complain about his decent wages and health benefits. I gathered my strength and pushed myself from bed, shuffling out to the living room to greet Alex and share the news.

“Hey honey. How was your day?” I asked as I leaned against the oak door jamb in the cozy living room.

“I’m okay,” sighed Alex, “It was a rough day, but otherwise good. What’s for dinner?” I frowned slightly at Alex, but stuffed my emotions down. Alex had a hard day and didn’t deserve my complaining.

“I hadn’t started dinner yet. I just woke up from a nap. Can we order out since I’m not feeling well?”

“Oh, that’s right. You went to the doctor’s today. How’d it go?” Alex plopped on the hot pink couch from Ikea and flipped on the tube. He wanted to catch the score of his beloved Penn State football team.

“Well, it wasn’t that great. Alex…can you mute the TV? I have something serious to tell you.” I sat on the couch next to Alex, hoping to get his attention. He muted the television and turned slightly to face me, a questioning look in his eyes.

“What happened, honey?”

“I went to see Dr. Lee. She said that I’m having a miscarriage. The baby was only a few days old.” I paused, unsure what else to say. Alex gently cradled my soft small hands in his rough ones, smoothing my knuckles with his thumb. He stared at the floor a moment, quiet, our breathing the only sounds. He lifted his head to gaze into my eyes and caressed my cheek with his hand.

“I’m so, so sorry, Kat. I know how much you wanted this baby,” Alex spoke softly. “We can always try again. What else did the doctor say?”

My eyes filled with unshed tears at his tender words. I bit my trembling lip, unable to stop the tears from falling. Alex gathered me in his arms, rubbing her my in slow circles.

“Shhhh…it’s okay, Kat. Don’t worry. We can try again. It’ll be okay.” I sobbed anew as the grief ripped through me.

“I’m so sorry, Alex! I don’t know what happened!” I cried. I blamed myself for losing the baby, blamed my body for betraying them.

“It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t anything you did. You know that.” Alex rocked me gently as my crying subsided into sniffles.

“I need a tissue,” I mumbled into Alex’s plaid shirt. “I think I got snot all over your shirt.” Alex chuckled and reached over to the end table, grabbed a tissue, and handed it to me. He watched me as I sat up, attempted to smooth my hair and dab at my eyes. Smiling wryly, I reached out and lightly touched a wet spot on the front of his shirt.

“Don’t worry, Kat. It’ll all work out and be okay. We’ll figure it out. Do you want me to make something for dinner so you can rest?” Alex slid a tendril of my curly blonde hair behind my ear.

“That would be nice,” I sniffled. “I don’t think I feel up to doing much yet.” Alex stood, patted me gently on the shoulder, and headed to the kitchen to scrounge up something to eat. Most likely it would be macaroni and cheese since it was Alex’s favorite food. Every time we ate it, I remembered when we were dating how Alex would stock up on the boxes of macaroni and cheese. He ate it for almost every meal, claiming it was cheap and easy for a bachelor. I remembered that at one time, he had almost 100 boxes stashed in cupboards from a sale they had at the grocery store. I shook my head ruefully and smiled. It was nice to have the old Alex back. I hoped this was sign of better things to come in our relationship.

I hated fighting with Alex. It tore at my heart. The last year had been particularly difficult. It seemed all we ever did was argue about everything. It didn’t matter what the topic – money, friends, not enough time together, even what to eat for dinner. Most of the time, I would just go along with whatever Alex had decided or said, but occasionally I would fight back. We ate dinner, relaxed and watched TV on the couch together, and turned in early for the night, both drained from the day’s events.