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10 Years Gone

In the story we would tell ourselves, we lived in Brookline.

We had one of those oversized duplex houses, with four bedrooms on each floor and ample front porches. I lived upstairs. She lived downstairs. I was less bothered by stairs than she was.

And we would talk about how she would babysit my children, never having children of her own, even in our 20-something fantasies, and then I'd come back from date night with Mr. and she and I would spend the rest of the night on the porch, whiling away the hours with bawdy jokes and gin and tonics. She loved smoking Camel Lites. And really, once you have Stage 4 cancer, why would you stop smoking?

The night she told me she was dying, I had a date. An Internet date, in the early years of Internet dating, and he was a nice boy who didn't have a cell phone and was going to meet me at a place in Harvard Square after his class. She met me at the B-Side Lounge and told me of the past months of painful cramps, laid out on her bathroom floor,…

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