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I was more than a little sad when I heard the news several months ago that "Guiding Light" was finally going to air its last episode, but I wasn’t surprised.

Daytime soap operas have become an endangered species, and my former favorite had never been at the top of the ratings.

The one question that loomed in my mind was whether Josh and Reva would get together yet again and finally be allowed to live happily ever after. I memorized the date in September when the final episode was set to air and silently promised myself I would watch it.

I shared the news with Ron, who pretended to be oblivious. My big, tough Marine hubby would never admit it in public, but he, too, once kept up with the residents of the imaginary town of Springfield.

The fact that we knew the histories of many of the characters on "Guiding Light" was one of the few things we had in common when we started dating back in the late 1980s.

Like most men, he blames his mom and sister for "making him" watch the longest-running soap opera in the history of television. However, I know the truth.

Once upon a time, he was just as hooked on it as I was. And once you’ve entered the crazy world of daytime drama, you never quite get those outrageous storylines out of your system.

I started watching "Guiding Light" with my mother back in the early 1970s before I had even started school and continued to keep up with it throughout my high school years.

Then I lost interest for a while as life itself became enough of a soap opera to keep me from watching daytime TV. My aunt, Becky, provided me with updates when something really big was going on.

I didn’t have time for "Guiding Light" again until Ron and I were newlyweds living on Okinawa. There was no cable TV in base housing when we moved to the island in 1993, but the Far East Network provided us with two soap operas; one of them was my former favorite.

For the next three years, I kept up with the Spaulding and Lewis clans once again. Unfortunately, we were six months behind the episodes that were airing in the United States.

So when we moved back, I suffered from a unique form of jet lag that resulted in soap opera confusion for many weeks. Luckily, I could rely on Becky to explain things to me.

I continued to be a faithful viewer until the actor who played the longtime villain, Roger Thorpe, became seriously ill and left the show.

When Michael Zaslow (aka Roger Thorpe) left the show, so did I.

That was more than a decade ago, but it was not long enough to prevent me from caring where my favorite characters were going to end up when the final curtain fell.

Unfortunately, when the last episode was set to air, Tommy and I were waiting for a doctor’s appointment at the Fort Belvoir family practice clinic. The closer the time came to 3 o’clock, the more anxious I became.

"Do we really have to keep watching CNN?" I wanted to scream. Couldn’t they change the channel to CBS for one historical hour?

Somehow, I managed to control myself and spent the long afternoon wondering what had finally become of my former friends. I didn’t have to wait for long.

I happily discovered a week’s worth of episodes waiting for me on the CBS Web site when I got home and savored every one of them. Ron kept finding excuses to come into the room so he could catch a quick glance of Holly or Vanessa.

I was halfway through the final episode when my mother called. She had not watched the show in about 20 years but also wanted to see how it would all end.

"So do you think Reva is going to be waiting for Josh at the lighthouse in a year?" she teased, already knowing the answer.

In half an hour, I knew it, too. It was a bittersweet moment, but after so many years, it was worth the wait.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 19 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or visit her Web site at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.

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