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I’ve gotten to know Bobby better during the last two days, and it surprises me. Maybe “better” is the wrong word… maybe “again” would be the more appropriate choice. It’s been a combination of several circumstances:

First, and this is the biggest change, Sue moved out and we’re suddenly faced with just each other. We haven’t lived with just each other since the Charlotte days in 2006. When we moved back here, we lived in a *very* small apt right next door to Jen & Tom, and it felt more like a dorm than where we actually lived. Then Sue moved in with us in Nov-07, and has lived with us until this past Wednesday. Bobby and I had kinda forgotten what it’s like for it to just be us.

Then, Saturday morning, we went to a seminar with Jennifer & Tom. You know when something happens and it seems like it’s the perfect thing at just the right time? That’s how this was. It was a huge event with Phil & Amy Parham from “Biggest Loser.” I’ve never watched “Biggest Loser,” but Jennifer is a fan and convinced us to come with them Saturday morning. I wasn’t expecting much — figured it would be just a larger version of a WeightWatchers meeting. But I was wrong. They talked about much more than weight loss… they talked about how weight is often a symptom of a bigger problem, and only addressing the real issue will allow you to lose weight and keep it off.

When they spoke, it’s like they were speaking directly to Bobby. I could tell that he was tuning in — completely tuning in — and he was quiet and thoughtful when we left. They talked about their story leading up to their time on the show… everything was just dandy, and then it all went to hell. Their small business went under, their youngest child started having difficulties that were diagnosed two years later as autism, and everything was just generally spiraling out of control, including their weight & their health. Little by little, things got better — but what connected with Bobby is that someone else GETS IT. The stress of being a small business owner, the worries of children (or in our case, the lack thereof), the heartbreak of someone you love being medically beyond your control. And you put your mental/physical/spiritual health on the back burner because everything else is pulling you in 100 different directions at once.

On the way home, he talked and talked and Jen, Tom, and I just listened. Bobby rarely really talks, and when he does, it’s best to stay quiet and just let him get it out. He said things that he had never told me, about how he feels like he’s walking a tightrope, doing a constant balancing act, to make sure that he’s the stable one, the one that everyone else can lean on. When he feels like he’s cracking, he just turns up the “mask” — the jokes, the occasional pissiness, burying himself in his work. All so he won’t have to expose just how close he is to breaking. It scared me to hear him say those things because I do depend on him, much more than I even realize. But it also made me feel closer to him — like he could trust me, and maybe he needs me just as much as I need him.

Then on Saturday night, his grandfather had a massive heart attack with subsequent diagnoses of a blood infection and pneumonia. Yesterday, and then this morning, I’m watching him and trying to figure out how I can help, and he’s buzzing aimlessly, barely holding it together. Meetings for work, phone calls from his mother updating him on his grandfather’s declining condition, knowing that he should be at the hospital, but that his business is depending on him — I can feel myself becoming frightened by the tone of his voice because it doesn’t sound normal. It’s hurried, higher than usual, his words are rushing into each other, and I know that he’s barely holding himself together.

I don’t know how to help him. And I have to be careful of how I say this, because I don’t want to be misinterpreted… but I feel rejuvenated knowing that he even NEEDS my help. Because usually he doesn’t — I don’t like that he’s hurting and scattered and jumbled. But I do like that he needs me. Him needing me makes me feel stronger. I’ve been taking and taking for over a year now — it feels good to give back.

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