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Letter to Marlene
It would have been 48 years together, Today.
It was about twenty years ago, it's hard to move on from such a thing.
You missed some of her firsts, like when she first drove a car, it was just like I missed our lasts, like our last few minutes together.
I remember our wedding day. By now it feels impossible that we even got married, that you were ever here, that I was ever able to hold you in my arms.
You were always smiling, at least to me. Maybe I wasn't there enough to know when you weren't.
I miss you.
Mistakes are commonly made throughout life, some bigger than others, I never fully understood the impact that I had; we had a little girl and you left so soon.
Blame. Blame is the worst part of it all, I mean, who can I blame? You? Me? Others? Us? I sometimes get angry, I'll admit. I start to blame you, I get defensive and obsessed with the idea that if only you had talked to me, if only you had… if only.
“If only” is so dull and empty, The words give you other options that you wish you made. They show what the future could have been but isn't. They're the constant reminder that it isn't how you would like it to be. That isn't how you had planned.
Marlene. We met at seventeen and married at twenty-two. I remember our late nights, when you first met my parents, and of course when you thought your dog ran away because you could not find him, but turned out to be sleeping in the basement.
I am seventy years old now and my memory is fading, the picture I held of your face for so long has become distorted and I can no longer hear your sweet, sweet honey-like voice.
I can no longer smell your perfume in the house, and I can't recall your laugh. Everything is dotty and scattered; it's beginning to frighten me.
Darling, Marlene, I can't wait to see you again. It has been a long twenty years, our beautiful Daughter has some of her children, Weston and Stevie. Stevie is about the age that our daughter was when you left.
My memory may be fading but I can clearly recall the day that you left.
Around forty years ago you had our daughter, Kace. I have never been so in love with two people at the same time, you were becoming a mom, and we made a healthy beautiful baby girl. I remember you cried hard when the nurse finally brought her in, sleeping as if she had done all the work in that hospital room. I remember You and I looking at our baby, you were so happy. The feeling I got when I first saw Kace can never be replicated or forgotten, feelings such as these are so hard to describe or even imagine because they come in specific situations that you must feel while there, I felt the same strong indescribable feeling when I lost you, however, it was far from happy.
It was around twenty-six years ago when we started to fail. I regretfully say we now, because when I had you I was only blaming you. I did not want to admit to myself that I, too, have faults. You would blame me for not being attentive to you when you spoke, for not noticing when you got your hair done, when you had a new outfit on; and you were completely and utterly right, and I regret every single day for only merely hearing you but not listening to you. Marlene, I hope you were able to forgive me, You have been on my mind from the moment we met. There has never been a day where I have fully forgotten you. I wish I knew what would happen, I would have been home.
The day I lost you. It was mid-January, the weather was cold and dry, the atmosphere felt still and it was quiet as I left for work. You stayed home from work that day, You weren't feeling good, You threw up in the morning. Marlene How I wish I told you I loved you in the morning. I am so sorry I never said it more, that morning was a bad one, we didn't talk. We had a really big argument the night before, over something so fickle and stupid I can't even remember what it was about. It was not worth the outcome. Marlene, I knew my chances were up but there were better options… If only.
Mid January stabs me like a newly sharpened frozen knife every winter. It isn't any better for Kace, either. Every January I go back to that morning. I should have known something was off. You looked unbearably sad, and so tired, and yes while it was the morning, it was off-putting. Not enough for my brain to move past the petty argument and apologize. Not enough for me to stop for a few moments to ask how you're feeling. Not enough for me to remind you that I was still so in love with you. Not enough for me to stop completely and just stay home. If only.
I pulled away, drove Kace to school, and left you home, for all I knew you were sick but I did not know the extent. The day was slower than usual and while I knew I was still angry, all I wanted to do was see you. I never got to hold you in my arms one last time.
When school let out, I got Kace and dropped her off at home and started to head back to work. It was the daily routine. No more than fifteen minutes passed by before Kace had called me seven times and left five voice messages, playing on speaker in my car as I raced back home. I believed I had time when I knew I didn't. I wanted to be superman, but I am only human, barely feeling like a man. Marlene, could you forgive me? I know I am stubborn, and I hope you know that I love you. I remember the argument and I wasn't very nice.
The House was loud that night, the argument got out of hand, Marlene. You were screaming and crying and I was right there with you, just screaming back. I truly cannot recall what it could have possibly been about. You told me you hated me, and I said it right back. My words repeat in my head like a scratched broken record, “you could die for all I care.” It echos and lingers, repeats and distorts like a broken voice box in an old doll; and as I recall you wished death on me as well, the hateful speech was nowhere near one-sided, but I had a few more straws left, while you, my love were on your last one.
By the time I got to the house I heard the sirens coming, Kace was smart like her mother in that way, she always knew what to do. Kace was beyond herself when I got in the house, she had never hugged me so tight, I just held her in my arms.
There you were Marlene, Kace had brought you to the floor and put you on your side, she tried to help, knowing she had come a little too late.
Marlene I had never felt such a pain in my heart, never felt so defeated and hopeless, It is my fault and I know that. My body feels permanently sunken in and there's a little pit that moves from my stomach to my throat, almost as if it's playing games with me. I went to therapy and they told me otherwise, but if only I had just talked to you in the morning.
The last time I saw you, there was foamed up saliva coming out of your mouth and your skin wasn't its natural lively color. I held you in my arms for only so long before the paramedics took you from me. Your eyes were half open and you had clearly just left, your once rose-tinted cheeks were now light gray. You smelled the way you always did, the perfume bottle was used for the last time that morning. I truly hope you were able to find peace. I hope you were able to become happier, I am so sorry for making you get to that point. I am so sorry for my words, I would take them back in a heartbeat.
In a heartbeat.
It's been years, not a day went by when I lived for myself, why was I allowed to live when you weren't? Why was I more deserving of having a heartbeat? All this time I lived for others, mainly for Kace.
Kace is older now, she has her husband and a family, she doesn't need her dad. It has been about a good month now since the last time she called. It has been a while since I have seen our grandkids, Stevie and Weston. Oh, Marlene how they would have loved you; Kace no longer calls, she is busy. She has been busy for a while now.
She doesn't need her dad anymore.
Deep down I know she blames me, even though she says it isn't my fault. She would never show signs of hating me or resenting me for living when her mom could not, she is stronger than that. But I know she blames me and for that I'm sorry Kace, For I took away your mother.
Why did I get to keep my heartbeat all this time? Marlene, you didn't have that opportunity, I know I was the cause. I had to have been the cause. You didn't deserve to hear the words that I spoke.
“You could die for all I care”
I just know they repeated in your head as you left. I believe Kace can move on without me, I'm seventy, and my brain is scattered. I don't need to be here, I have lived enough, I miss my wife. Marlene I can't even remember what you smelled like. I can't remember your laugh. I feel like I am losing you all over again, I can't lose you again.
Marlene I'm coming to visit, I always knew I would see you again. Please, I hope you haven't forgotten me. I'm coming to visit, I'll even stay for a while. Please, say you have forgiven me, Marlene. I have missed you more than one can imagine, there is so much that I want to tell you. Marlene I hope you let me in, I will see you tonight.