When you remain friendly with an ex, you can feel it when there’s another seismic shift in your relationship. So it was with my California-based old flame Mark (a.k.a Sparky).
After breaking up in the summer of 1995, Sparky and I kept in close touch, communicating at least once a month and rekindling things whenever business brought him to New York. As 1998 began, I was surprised that two months had passed without a word from him. Sensing that something was wrong, I decided to call Sparky. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the winter of ‘98...
February 27th, 1998
There’s a hole in my heart today. The reason for it -- the unexpected revelation that Sparky and I are through, for good.
I’d sensed Mark pulling away from me when I moved here a couple of months ago. When he failed to call on my birthday, I wondered if that was his way of saying he was letting go.
Then, on my way to work yesterday, two songs that always remind me of him came on the radio. I had the strongest impulse yet to get in touch with Sparky.
“Call him,” my mother urged when asked for her opinion. “He’s been a very good friend to you and you never know what’s going on in someone’s life.”
So, I dialed Mark’s work number. A secretary answered and then he picked up.
“Hello there,” he said, sounding very upbeat. “I’m so glad you called.”
“I figured I should find out what’s been going on in your part of he world,” I replied.
“Happy belated Birthday,” he said (He didn't forget…). “How are you? Is everything okay?”
Anxious, for once, to skip my end of the conversation, I quickly brought him up to date on work, grad school applications and Mom’s condition.
Finally, I asked him--
“So, what about you? Are you sick or married?”
“Well, you’re partly right,” he answered, adding that a lot has changed in his life recently.
I fell into a chair as Mark told me that he is indeed ill again -- and that he got remarried two weeks ago. Tears welled up in my eyes and I fought to steady my voice.
Mark said his diverticulitis and colon cancer returned during the holidays and that was why he didn’t call on my birthday (he didn’t want me to worry). The marriage happened on Valentine’s Day in Hawaii.
“I’m really glad you called,” Mark kept repeating. “I just didn’t know how to tell you.”
“Understandably so,” I said meekly.
* * *
The shocking news of Sparky’s marriage felt like the final death knell for our complicated love. It would only be a matter of time, though, before fate threw us together again.