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A few months after we began dating, I found out he was sick. He didn’t look sick then, like he would later. He said he had a disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis, which clogs the bile ducts of the liver with scar tissue. Bile backs up into the liver and destroys it. The only cure, he said, was a liver transplant — and he was at the top of the list, which meant he could get a call any day. He had actually sneaked away from his doctors to go on vacation with me the week before this conversation, knowing the whole time that if a liver became available for him, he wouldn’t be able to accept it.

That’s a lot to process, I said.

You can break up with me, he said. I’m giving you an out. Otherwise you’re in it for the long haul.

It was a deal. I anted up.

Probably the most disconcerting thing about Greg’s death was how fast I was expected to recover from it. When you are a 25-year-old not-really-a-widow, because, after all, he was “just a boyfriend,” you hear often that you are Young! And Still In Possession of Your Looks! That You’ll Find Someone Else! I wanted to tell all these well-meaning people that Greg got new livers, but someone forgot to put my heart back in. I didn’t take any time to work through my grief. I didn’t think I could. I went back to work a week after he died and just a few days after we buried him. I wanted to forget the bad at the end, and was simultaneously terrified I would forget how great the rest was.

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