Lisa Garzone married John Joyce in 1994. They had four children together, and at one point, says Lisa, they were best friends. But their marriage ended badly.
"John became alcoholic, and things got volatile," she says, "so we had to have him leave."
John wound up living on the streets. "He stopped showing up for visits. I tried to follow where he was, and I knew that he was homeless — that just always worried me. I didn't want him to die on the streets."
Many years later, John met Megan Smith, who worked with the homeless. He was still on the streets then and hadn't been in contact with Lisa for about 12 years.
"But it was a different place and time in his life," Megan tells Lisa during their StoryCorps interview in Pawtucket, R.I. He was sober, and later found an apartment.
Then, says Megan, John found out that he had cancer. He died last year.
"I met you the day before John died," says Megan, who was with John for four years. "The reason I didn't reach out to you sooner was because John didn't want to do more harm."
"I can remember just looking at him and having great sadness," says Lisa. "And I kissed him on the forehead, told him that I loved him, and I whispered in his ear that I forgave him."
After the memorial service, Lisa and Megan decided to get together. The two had dinner one night, "then we sat in the car and talked for like another three hours or something," Megan recalls.
"It was pouring rain out," Lisa adds, "we got out of the car so I could have a cigarette, and then in the pouring rain we just hugged. And I just said, 'I hope that you'll be a part of our lives.' And you have been ever since."
Audio produced for Morning Edition by Jud Esty-Kendall.