Ted came into my life, however peripherally, at a time when all the beliefs I had held smugly for many years had been shattered. True love, marriage, fidelity, selfless motherhood, blind trust—all those marvelous truths were suddenly only wisps of smoke blowing away in a totally unforeseen gust of wind.
But Ted seemed to embody what was young, idealistic, clean, sure, and empathetic. He seemed to ask nothing but friendship. He was, in 1971, a decisive factor in the verification that I was a person of worth, a woman who still had a great deal to give and to reap. He was most assuredly not a predatory male eager to “hit on” a newly divorced woman. He was simply there, listening, reassuring, giving credibility to what I was trying to become. Such a friend is not easy to turn one’s back on.
I have no idea what I was to him, what I seemed to remain to him. Perhaps I only gave back to him what he had given to me. I saw him then as quite perfect, and he must have needed that. Perhaps he could sense an emotional strength in me, although I surely did not feel it myself at the time. He may have known that he could count on me when the going grow perilous for him. In time of deepest stress, he would turn to me, again and again. And I did attempt to help him, but I could never really assuage his pain because Ted could never bring himself to expose the soft underbelly of his anguish. He was a shadow man, fighting to survive in a world what was never made for him. It must have taken incredibly effort.
- The Stranger Beside Me, Ann Rule