I cannot expect you to understand. You are not aparent. You don’t have to make the horrible choices—ormaybe you do. Maybe you just made a horrible choice ofyour own by leaving me. All I can say is there is nowinning. How do you choose between your own fleshand blood and the love of your life? You can’t really…Icould only choose because Chloe Ann is young andneeds me. She wouldn’t understand the choice. But you,Vera, you might understand. You might see where I amcoming from. You might be able to forgive me.
Please forgive me.
That night I went back home. I don’t feel I have toassure you that nothing happened between Isabel and I—but nothing did happen. I talked to Chloe Ann. I triedto make as much peace with Isabel as I could in herdrunken state. I at least got her to calm down. I slept onthe couch.
The next morning, I woke up early and madebreakfast. The three of us sat together, as a family, forthe last time. Isabel was terribly hung over but she hadsoftened. Perhaps she finally saw how over it was andhow there would be no us, no going back. What wasdone was done.
So we put on sad smiles and ate, and Chloe Annwas delighted to have us all back together. Our smilesgot sadder.
Then Isabel drove me home.
You see, love is a strange thing. It can disappearcompletely. It can leave you, so far gone it is just a markon the horizon, and you wonder how you ever felt love tobegin with. But even with it gone, fragments still remain.There are imprints. You can destroy a house and ruin itto the ground but you’ll see indents in the earth, the waythe ground is different where the house once was.
We talked, Isabel and I, for a long time. She wasstill angry, bitter, as I expect she’ll be for a long time. Iwould be too, if I were in her shoes. Perhaps this is whatmakes everything so much harder, that I know howothers see me, that what I’ve done is reprehensible tothem. But she had relented to what was, to the newreality. And in our words about the past and the presentand the future, I could see the remains of what once was,see the ghost of our marriage, that time when we had abit of hope for each other.
I am not in love with Isabel. I am in love with you. Ido not even love Isabel. I love you. But for that moment,I cared about her more than I had in a long time. Iworried for her. I wanted to make things right, eventhough it seemed impossible. Perhaps it was because Iknew this was really the end, and it was time for us bothto move on for good.
I kissed her goodbye without a second thought. It isin my nature to be physical. It is in my nature to betender. There was no meaning in it except for sinkinginto old habits and the bittersweet notion of sayinggoodbye. You see, though I no longer love Isabel, theghost of the marriage still remained. I said goodbye tothat ghost.
Of course, I know how that all looked to you, and Icannot blame you for running, blame you for leaving.Things had gotten hard, and I was shouldering so much,hoping you could shoulder it too. I should have never putyou in this position and dragged you all the way herewhen things were so unbalanced, but fools are those whofall in love, and I was a fool. I still am. And for any griefand pain I have caused you, my dearest Estrella, I amdeeply sorry.
All I can say is, if I ever get a chance again, I willnot mess it up. I will be good to you. I will be better thangood. And I will fight. Even if you pull away, I will pullyou back. I just hope you have enough room in yourheart for a tired old fool like me who still makesmistakes when he should know better.
I love you.
Come back to me, my Estrella.
I stare at the letter in my hands as I do every night whenI wake up and can’t fall back asleep. I can barely seefrom the light filtering in through the curtains, but Iknow every word, every sentence, by heart. This is toremind me what I’m fighting for, to remind me how hardit was when Vera left me nearly a year ago.