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Pauline Lerner

No news, bad news

May 8, 2009 at 4:40 AM

I got some bad news about an ex-boyfriend today.

I had lost touch with him and our mutual friends since we broke up.  Then, about two years ago, I got a frantic phone call from one of his friends. She said that he had gone absolutely crazy, had been in the psychiatric ward of the hospital a few times, and was bedeviling her. She was considering sending him a note saying not to come by and visit her any more. This was serious business. He had told me that she had been his best friend (no dating), and sometimes his only friend, for the last 15 years. I tried to follow up with her, but she did not respond to me. In retrospect, I can see that he had had intermittent bouts of moderate to severe depression.

Today she mentioned him on Facebook, so I wrote to her and asked for details. She told me that he had been living in Texas with his girlfriend for a few years. He had just come to town to see his family before going into the hospital in Texas for surgery for lung cancer. He has three cancerous lumps in his lungs. This was not surprising, since he had smoked 3 packs a day for years, but it was upsetting. I don't know the details. There are some kinds of lung cancer which kill fast, and others which do it more slowly. I asked our friend about his psychiatric problems. She told me that he was still crazy, but his girlfriend keeps it under wraps pretty well. I told her that I'd like to send him a card, and she said that she'd get his address for me.

Former boyfriends are in a class by themselves. This one was a dedicated amateur musician, and we spent many happy hours playing music together. That's one of the things that made him special. Our relationship was intense, but brief and rocky. I miss the good times we had together, but we had too many bad times. I have never wanted to resume a dating relationship with him, and I really don't envy his girlfriend now. However, I still care about him as an old friend -- and a little more. There is a soft spot in my heart for my old beaux.

The days ahead will be hard for him, and all I can do is wish him peace.

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