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Cheryl Lavin: Can’t stop thinking about woman he let get away

We all know how the stories about old lovers reuniting are supposed to end. The couple, separated by years and miles — and maybe a spouse or two — come together and wham! The years and the miles (and the spouses) magically disappear. The connection is immediate and the lovers pick up where they left off.

Not so fast . . .

Sammy got divorced after seven years of marriage. It was a “polite” divorce and they both moved on. He met Justine one day on his lunch break.

“She was a wonderful woman, open and honest and as uninhibited as any man could want.”

Things were going great until Justine had the nerve to say those three little words that can strike fear in the heart of a man.

“She said, ‘I love you’ and scared me right out of my skin.”

Sammy could have responded with a joke, with a smile, with a simple thank you, with an admission that he had feelings for her but wasn’t ready to put a name on them yet. Instead, he laughed in her face. Out of nerves, he says, but still. “I immediately saw the pain in her eyes. She walked out.”

For the next few years, they kept in touch, but Justine refused to see him. Eventually they lost track. A few years passed and they ran into each other. Justine gave him her number and told him to call. Sammy didn’t call. Two weeks later they ran into each other again. Justine asked him why he hadn’t called. He had a good excuse. He had gotten married that past weekend.

“She turned and walked away and I knew that I had caused her pain again. The only person at my wedding that knew I had run into her was my best man. In reviewing the pictures from the ceremony, I noticed he was always standing at the door. He said it was in case I decided to run out and meet Justine.”

Sammy moved to the West Coast with his new wife and they had 17 great years and three not so great ones and then they got divorced. “Throughout all of this time I wondered about Justine and when I moved back to the Midwest, I made a sincere effort to locate her.”

He found her brother’s phone number. He called and asked him to give Justine his number. When he didn’t hear from her, he wrote her a letter in care of her brother.

“Nothing happened so I wrote a second letter. Five days later, I got a very short letter that said, ‘From the sound of your letters you don’t know that I’ve been happily married for the past 20 years.’ She was right, I didn’t know and I was embarrassed.

“You know you always read about lost loves and how wonderful the reunion is and I was sure hoping for that storybook ending but it obviously wasn’t meant to be. I’d just like to tell Justine that I wish her the best. Just the couple of months that we spent together made me a better person and I will always think of her as the person who, maybe unknowingly, provided the directions for me to grow up and become a better man.”

Did you reunite with a lost love? How did it work out? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to cheryllavinrapp@gmail.com.

And check out my new ebook, “Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front.”