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Love Stories: “This Is Not What You Signed Up For”

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Did you catch last week’s Modern Love? “How I got Here” is the story of how the fun fling of a divorced woman turned into a love story to remember. Be warned, it’s definitely a tear-jerker.

We began to date. Every Friday he drove to the valley to take me out to dinner. After a long week, I loved dressing up and dining out. I loved having my girls pick out my earrings, then answer the door to a man bearing flowers. Sure, they were teenagers, eager to get rid of me on a Friday night, but they also saw how a woman should be treated. And they saw that I was a woman worthy of respect.

Soon, we added Saturday nights at his house. After shuttling the girls to their activities, I primped for hours, shedding my valley mom skin with each mile through Topanga Canyon to Santa Monica. Once the ocean was in view, my transformation was more than physical. By the time I arrived at his house, I had done everything possible to make myself beautiful, to feel beautiful. And he was a worthy audience, appreciating every detail. All I had to do was breathe.

Four years later, Leslie Lehr’s post-marriage boyfriend became her second husband. Two years after that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of running away, her new husband has stuck with her, making her feel beautiful and loved and cared for, even when she is weak and swollen and sick.

I didn’t want him to see me like that, helpless and weak. The chemo fog descended and I couldn’t get my words right or my thoughts clear. I felt stupid. I felt ugly. Most of all, I felt guilty.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “This is not what you signed up for.”

“That may be true,” he said. “But neither did you.”

Now we sit in bed watching TV every night. My favorite fashion show is on and he turns to me. “This is the perfect date,” he says.

He stills called her beautiful, and he still means it.

Read the full story at The New York Times. Make sure you have a tissues.

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