Last weekend I found out that the man who was my lover and best friend for 10 years has died. Not only is he dead...he was murdered, nearly 2 months ago and I had been so busy and disconnected from the news that I had not even heard about it. 

We met through work when we were both married to other people in 2001 and it quickly escalated into an affair. From that day forward, for the next 10 years, we saw each other at least 5 days a week and talked/texted dozens of times a day...every day. What started out as two lonely people grasping for something to keep us afloat developed into a deep friendship and a love so meaningful that I could never fully describe it with words.  He was kind, loving, open, and hilariously funny. Our relationship endured my divorce, the death of loved ones in both of our families, a terrifying health scare for me, etc. etc, etc. For almost a decade, I was accepting of the fact that we couldn't be together openly. The love I felt for him was strong enough to sustain anything, I thought. Eventually, even though I knew he loved me tremendously, I recognized that he was never going to be able to find the courage to leave his wife, and I needed more companionship and openness than he could offer me.  Our breakup in 2011 was tearful and devastating for both of us, but we both knew it had to be done.

We texted each other some over the next year, but had nearly completely lost touch until May of 2017 when I ran into him while grocery shopping. We stood near the checkout line talking at that supermarket for almost 2 hours. All the old feelings came flooding back, but for me, the feelings of friendship were the strongest. I wasn't interested in rekindling a romance, I had missed him being my friend. I could literally talk to him about anything, and so I did. We started texting and talking on the phone immediately again after seeing each other at the grocery store that day. I quickly realized, though, that he wanted to pick up right where we left off, and I couldn't do that again and I was not going to cheat on my boyfriend. He explained that over the years since we split, his relationship with his wife improved for a while, but they quickly fell back into their old patterns the way relationships do. His father had passed away right after our breakup, and he admitted he had been in a terrible place emotionally for the years that followed. He was so deep into that depression, that the more we talked, the more I realized that he needed more than just me to "snap" him out of his funk. We talked about how both of us felt tangled in this web of familiar, yet unfamiliar feelings about each other, and how much we wished things were different. We both commented how as much as we loved talking to each other, it was taking an emotional toll on both of us, knowing that we didn't want the same things from our relationship. The last time I communicated with him was a text message I sent him every year on the anniversary of his brother's death to let him know I was thinking of him. He thanked me, but did not seem to want to communicate much more than that, so I didn't push it any further. That was 5 months ago.

Because our entire relationship took place in secrecy, we never met each other's family (although we knew just about everything there was to know about them), no longer really had any friends in common, and the city where we live is large enough that gossip doesn't swirl like it does in a small community. As far as I know, we currently only had 1 mutual acquaintance, and a single post on her Facebook page was how I discovered the news about his murder.  I contacted her and she sent me a link to the news story.  He was strangled at a hotel, less than 2 miles from his home. Four people have been charged with his death and each person is charged with first degree murder and robbery, although the story said he had money in his pocket when he was found.  The story said that his death was still being investigated, and that a motive was not clear.

I am left with so many questions. Why was he at a hotel? Had he left his wife? Did he know the people who killed him? Was he having another affair? Was this a personal attack meant specifically for him or was he just at the wrong place at the wrong time? Was he terrified? Was he doing something illegal? The hardest part has been trying to deal with the fact that I may never know the answers to these questions.

The regular ways to mourn a person's death do not apply here. Since I didn't hear about his murder until nearly 2 months later, I couldn't attend the funeral. Obviously, I can't talk to his family or share tears and stories about him with friends, because no one knew about us. I want to attend the trials of these 4 monsters who have been charged with his death to make sure they pay for what they have done, but I don't want to upset his family even more than they already have been if they are going to be there. I have no idea how to deal with all of these feelings and this blanket of pain that I am under.

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