I set everything aside for the next three years until her death, the first of someone I truly loved in my entire life. Our connection was immediate. It was like we had met in another life. Despite the age difference between us, I would daily forget she was what others may consider old. We both felt like we were in our 20s, and we would admit that to each other regularly, without it ever getting uncomfortable. It was just perfectly magical.

My friends were really supportive and were all eager to meet her. I was very selective about who I introduced her to, though. It was like I was taking them to meet my new girlfriend, and all the butterflies that come with that. The last thing I wanted was for a woman with such gentility, who in many ways saw me as perfect, to see me with a bunch of goons.

In the beginning, it concerned me that someone might think our uncommon bond was weird or inappropriate, but it wasn’t even remotely the case. Because anyone who knew our relationship understood it, and her family was thankful that their mother had someone like me that made her happy.