EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – FEBRUARY 13, 2008
By Rich Trzupek
She awoke to an empty house for the first time in almost twenty five years. It was perhaps true that he was still there, but as she scanned his sleeping face searching for some sign of recognition, she was consumed by the terrible feeling that, after nearly three decades of marriage, she was laying next to a stranger.
When she came downstairs, the emptiness was, if anything, stronger. She wished she were making breakfast for three or four, not two. But, she realized, breakfast for two it would be, from now on. The boys had their own lives to lead. She knew that.
A “good morning” crept from her lips, not nearly felt, when he finally made it to the kitchen.
A glance at her face told him needed to know: last night’s tears were only a beginning. “Honey, I-” he began.
“Don’t start,” she cut him off. “You don’t understand.”
Coffee passed in silence, as he tried in vain to concentrate on the paper. Finally, he decided it was time. There weren’t any other options.
“Listen hon, there’s something I-”
“Please, just leave me alone.”
“No!” he cried, the strength of his voice startling her into silence. “Not until you hear what I have to say. I know – I know – that life has changed, but it’s still our life. That’s what matters. I know I haven’t been the best husband or father. I know I’ve been away too often and that I have my moods. I know it’ll be different, with both of the boys at college. But, it’s still our life and, well, I wanted you to know how I feel – how I feel right now, this minute. So I wrote… this.”
He withdrew two crumpled pieces of paper from his robe and placed them on the table in front of her. She unfolded them quietly and read the words he penned after she had fallen asleep on a tear-soaked pillow.
This is what he wrote:
You asked me a question a long time ago and never asked it again. Perhaps you found the silence too powerful.
Over the years I have contemplated the answer, through days that were sometimes
painfully long, but usually all too short; through nights of passion and longing and tears and joy. I have contemplated the answer while we watched our children flower. It seemed to happen overnight.
And so I have mused, as the brush of time painted our faces with lines of caring and worry and laughter, and colored our souls in many hues of wonder and compassion
We have lived, you and I. We have traveled roads both temporal and spiritual. And though neither might appear as they once did, nor as we supposed they might, your hand has rested in mine throughout the journey, even when I could not touch you. It is for this which I am most blessed.
Not for the dreams that came true, nor for the dreams that would not come true, but that we could always dream anew. That your vision, if not mine, could become mine, and that my vision (I pray) should become yours.
The obstacles could not matter, they only made me grasp your hand the tighter. Darkness could not matter, it only made me wish for you the more. Vanity could not matter, for vanity is a mirror which blocks the light leaving only selfish images. Fear might have mattered, could have mattered, but while we might not have found courage enough alone, we always found enough in each other and for that I will ever be grateful.
It is remarkable how little this world resembles the one we had known. It is remarkable how much we have changed, you and I.
Once, we believed that life might be conquered and that we would revel in the victory. At times, it seemed that life swept us along, helplessly, toward fearsome battlefields unwanted. Now, I see that victory mattered little, if at all. The journey has been everything and, toward whatever end, I am glad the journey has been with you.
You asked me a question, a long time ago, and never asked it again…
You didn’t ask me if I loved you; I have told you that I love you more times than I can count. You didn’t ask me if I would always be there for you; for you knew that honor would bear but one answer.
You asked me if you were “the one”.
I tell you now that you could not be the one; that to be but one would have been too little.
You have been more than one. You have been: friend, counselor, partner, teacher, student, and yes – lover. You have been there, when and where I needed you, and have understood when I might need only to reflect. We have shared more than just love. We have shared meaning and purpose and truth.
And you ask, “are you the one?”
With my last breath I would tell you: I’ve only now begun to understand all that you are.
She looked up, the tears running down her cheeks matching his own, to find that thirty years had suddenly fallen from her husband’s face. She could remember every detail as clearly as the day when they promised themselves to each other. She reached for his hand.
“Let’s get dressed darling,” she said “and take a walk. It looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day. And you know what? I’d hate for us to miss it.”